April 6, 2010
LOS ANGELESWalk down the cereal aisle and youll see a variety of breakfast cereals that make claims related to their ability to help consumers lower cholesterol levels. Often, these foods base such claims on the relationship between their whole-grain oats and/or oat bran content and the clinically proven ability of such ingredientsand their beta-glucan content (a soluble fiber)to help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the body.
Although such products can help consumers better manage cholesterol levels, it takes much more than just a bowl of cereal each morning to replace cholesterol-lowering drugs like Lipitor. Other fiber-rich foodsand ingredientsneed to come into play, including oatmeal, black beans and fruits like oranges.
Research has found that consuming an average of 6 grams of soluble fiber per day for about four to eight weeks can reduce LDL cholesterol levels by just over 5%. Studies related to oat-based breakfast cereals have shown an effectiveness in lowering LDL levels by 1% to 5%. The low end of that range (1%) is not really significant from a medical standpoint, notes Dr. David Heber, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA.
In addition to increasing fiber intake, consuming foods high in polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids can help consumers lower LDL cholesterol levels.
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