Oats so good: Irish scientists find a bowl porridge a day keeps the heart healthy
It has long been known that a bowl of porridge is a great way to start to the day – and new research has found that it also has the ingredients for a healthy heart.
The study, published last week, discovered that consumption of oat beta glucan – the fibre found in porridge – can help reduce cholesterol and keep body weight down.
According to the scientists, based at the APC Microbiome Institute in Cork, they also discovered that it can positively alter the make-up of the microbes and bugs living in our intestines, known as microbiota, and how they work. Specifically the oat beta glucan promoted the growth of beneficial intestinal microorganisms.
“These results show we need to consider effects on the microbiome when treating cardiovascular disease through either food or medication” said Prof Catherine Stanton, leader of the research at the APC Microbiome Institute and Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Co Cork.
“The message is to take porridge regularly to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease whilst also protecting your gut microbiota.”
The research, conducted on mice, were fed a high-fat diet together with either a food supplement or medication over the course of 24 weeks.
The food supplements used in the study were plant stanol ester – the plant equivalent of cholesterol, currently added to some foods – and oat beta-glucan, which is the fibre in porridge.
Researchers also administered the drug Atorvastatin, a prescribed anti-choleseterol statin.
Noel Caplice, professor of cardiovascular sciences in UCC, said there was “established epidemiological data supporting the role of specific food constituents including oat beta-glucan and plant sterols in cardiovascular health.”
Each year, around 10,000 people in Ireland die from cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, stroke and other circulatory diseases.
Further understanding the balance between food, gut bacteria and health may aid in developing food and therapeutic products in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.