Oats may play an important role in improving satiety, diet quality and digestive, cardiovascular and general metabolic health, says a new, wide reaching collection of scientific reviews.
The higher viscosity of the beta-glucan fibre in oatmeal enhances satiety and boosts beneficial gut bacteria, the findings showed.
A review of 29 studies concluded that oats and oat bran might provide benefits in some cases of bowel disease (one of two studies on ulcerative colitis) and constipation (14 studies).
A review of the most recent and compelling studies on oats and oat bran and cardiovascular disease risk factors concluded that oats and oat bran lower total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) or bad cholesterol by 2 and 19 percent and 4 and 23 percent respectively.
The effects are particularly prominent among people with high cholesterol levels, the study noted.
"Eating a 60-gram serving of oatmeal might lower cholesterol significantly, said the study's lead author Frank Thies from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, Britain.
To put it in perspective, an LDL-C reduction of 4-6 percent is estimated to reduce coronary heart disease risk by 6-18 percent.
What's more, all forms of oats - oat bran, oatmeal or other oat-containing foods - appear to be beneficial.
The review collection appeared in the British Journal of Nutrition.