Is oat bran on the list of foods you use every day? It should be. Here’s a chance to find out all about its benefits.
Oats are not a common food in our diet. We resort to it sometimes, when we want to lose weight or when we get information about its health properties somewhere. Then you mostly use oatmeal or instant oatmeal. Few people really know what oat bran is and how to use it in the daily diet.
What Is Oat Bran?
The name itself says that they are obtained from oats. Oats are a very nutritious cereal, much neglected, and underestimated in the human diet. The bran is the part of the oat groat that is located just below its inedible shell. The grains of all cereals consist of three layers:
- Endosperm – the layers that make up the floury part of the grain
- Germ – a layer that represents the embryo of a new plant and which is a very nutritious inner part of cereals
- Bran – a layer of cereals that is actually a wrapper, rich in nutrients, and mostly fiber.
But what makes oat bran so special and why should we consume it more often?
Oat bran contains a large number of fibers that improve bowel function and digestion and improve our health in many ways.
The Importance of Fiber in Our Diet
Dietary fiber is one part of the foods we consume, mostly of plant origin. There are fibers that are soluble and those that are insoluble. Soluble fibers slow down digestion and give a feeling of satiety, while insoluble ones have the opposite effect, are harder to digest, they speed up digestion and the passage of food through the intestines.
Most of us do not get enough fiber through our diet. According to the doctor’s recommendations, we need to consume about 1 oz (25 g) of fiber a day, and most of us consume about 0.5 oz (15 g). Oat bran is an easy and quick way to add the missing amount to our diet.
Making a big and sudden change in a diet is not a smart choice when it comes to fiber. This change can cause discomfort and stomach problems. So be moderate and introduce changes in your diet gradually.
You will certainly not notice miracles overnight. Oat bran is not a cure nor does it have any magical properties with instant results. However, numerous studies have addressed its impact on our overall health. In order for that to happen, it is necessary that it becomes a part of the everyday habit and not a part of occasional health care.
Health Benefits of Oat Bran
Oat bran improves digestion and prevents constipation, but it also has a number of other health benefits.
- Lowering bad cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that the soluble fibers found in oat bran reduce the levels of bad cholesterol. When it is found in the intestines, it somehow attaches to cholesterol and prevents it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. In this way, the body simply expels bad cholesterol. Excess bad cholesterol is not good for health. It accumulates in the arteries in the form of layers and prevents normal blood flow. The bloodstream consists of a network of interconnected blood vessels and the heart. A delay in one part can lead to problems in the functioning of the entire circulatory system, heart problems, and high blood pressure.
- Reducing the risk of developing diabetes. Oat bran slows down the digestion of carbohydrates and reduces the speed at which sugar enters the bloodstream. Thus the body has more time to deal with excess sugar. It is also believed to increase insulin sensitivity, which directly affects the removal of excess sugar from the blood. In this way, they are an important factor that reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
- Improving the work of the immune system. Beta-glucan, which is part of the soluble fibers in oat bran, stimulates the immune system and fights unwanted bacteria and fungi in the gastrointestinal system. In that way, it affects the health and resistance of the organism as a whole.
- They reduce the risk of breast cancer in women. Research in the UK has shown that women who consume at least 0.5 oz (13 g) of fiber from whole grains reduce their risk of breast cancer by 41%, as opposed to those who consume 0.15 oz (4 g) of fiber or less.
A small change in diet can make a big difference to your health.
Oat bran can improve your health in these ways, but also contribute to your weight loss. In a similar way, ground flax seeds can be useful, too. Being overweight is not only an aesthetic but also a health problem. This is one more reason to include oats in your diet.
How to Use Oat Bran for Weight Loss?
It is clear that good digestion can affect the regulation of body weight. Wheat and oat bran are therefore often mentioned as a means of improving and regulating digestion.
How can bran be used for weight loss and what kind is best for these purposes?
Oat bran for weight loss is a great choice. It can be a delicious way to start a day with a full stomach. Forget strong and greasy breakfasts under the pretext that they will keep you full for a long time. Oat bran can give you a feeling of fullness.
How does it actually work?
The following process takes place in the stomach. Soluble fibers absorb liquid in the stomach and intestines and form a gel-like substance. These fibers are capable of absorbing a large amount of water – 25 times their weight. This means that a spoonful of oat bran that weighs 0.5 oz (15 g) turns into 13 oz (375 g) of substance that fills the stomach. It is clear that this creates a feeling of satiety – the stomach is literally fuller and there is no feeling of hunger.
When there is no feeling of hunger, then the need for food intake and excess calories are reduced. In this way, oat bran and weight loss are directly related.
This property makes it an important ingredient in some weight loss programs and diets, such as Dukan’s diet.
Another way in which oat bran affects weight loss is its ability to block the absorption of calories in the intestines. The food we eat is broken down in the stomach into amino acids, fatty acids, and carbohydrates. The gel-like substance that is created in the intestines absorbs a part of those substances that are decomposed and turns them into pulp that is expelled through the stool. In this way, part of the calories is expelled from the body, instead of being absorbed into the body. Needless to say, lower calorie intake means faster weight loss.
What Is Better for Weight Loss, Oatmeal or Oat Bran?
Oatmeal is often referred to as a healthy meal and a healthy breakfast. However, if you want to lose weight, then oat bran is a better choice than oatmeal. It is the outer layer of cereals and it consists only of fiber. Unlike oatmeal, it has 50% more fiber, and therefore a greater role in the process of maintaining satiety and weight loss. Since bran is only fiber, it also means fewer calories compared to oatmeal. 3.5 oz (100 g) of cooked oat bran has 40 calories, while the same amount of oatmeal has 63 calories. That is why oat bran for weight loss is a better and more efficient variant than oatmeal.
Does that mean you should avoid them if you are not overweight?
If you are overweight, you can include oat bran in more meals during the day. If you are not overweight, it is enough to add it to one meal and take advantage of it.
Keep in mind that it is not only rich in fiber, but also an excellent source of nutrients necessary for a healthy life and a balanced diet.
Oat Bran – Nutrition Facts
Not only do you improve your health and promote weight loss by introducing oat bran into your diet, but it is also a source of many nutrients – vitamin E and vitamins B1, B2, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, and potassium. Let us mention the significance of only some of them.
- Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects our body.
- Vitamin B1 and magnesium are important for the organs’ function, especially for the heart. The deficiency can lead to feelings of fatigue and exhaustion.
- Vitamin B2 plays a very important role in the synthesis of hemoglobin, as well as in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates and the health of nails, skin, and hair.
- Iron plays a very important role in many metabolic processes.
- Zinc is important for beautiful skin. Its deficiency leads to dry skin, broken nails, dandruff, and hair loss.
- Magnesium plays a very important role in binding calcium to bones and in relaxing muscles. It also participates in regulating heart rhythm and lowering cholesterol levels.
- Copper is an essential mineral that plays an important role in bone formation, connective tissue production, and the process of encoding specific enzymes required for melanin formation.
Other vitamins and minerals are also important for certain processes in our body.
If we have in mind the ability of oat bran to boost immunity, reduce the level of bad cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels, it is clear that it should become part of our daily diet, gain importance and a well-deserved place on your table.
Oat Bran – Preparation
You are probably wondering how to prepare oat bran and how to introduce it into the diet.
There are basically two ways:
- The first method involves partially replacing wheat cereals with oat bran. For example, you can add it to a glass of milk, omelette, salad, or soup.
- Another way of preparation involves a little more skill and the will to try new things. The preparation of oat bran is not complicated. You can introduce it to your menu as a cooked meal, instead of oatmeal. It can become an ingredient from which you will make pancakes, muffins, or some other cookies. It’s a great way for your children to love it and get into the healthy habit of consuming it.
The most important thing is to introduce it into the diet gradually and to monitor how your body reacts to it. Since it absorbs a lot of liquid, it is extremely important that you drink enough water during the day. In this way, you can relieve and prevent stomach problems. In time, when it becomes part of your daily diet, you will find many ways to use it. Until then, it’s not bad to have some already tried recipes with oat bran at hand.
Oat Bran – Recipes
As we said, you can simply add oat bran to a meal or prepare a dish that includes it as the main ingredient. One of the simplest recipes to prepare is porridge. You need to put one measure of oat bran in two measures of boiled water or milk. The mixture is cooked for 5-7 minutes until you get a mushy dish. This kind of meal is prepared quickly and is the right thing for breakfast and a healthy start. Yes – even when you are in a hurry! It only takes a little better organization of time in the morning.
Recipes with oat bran are common in Dukan’s diet, so they often bear the name of this diet, such as “Dukan bread”, “Dukan’s pie” and the like.
Where to Get and How to Store Oat Bran
It is not difficult to get oat bran. Realistically, you may not find it in a small local store, however, you can easily get them in any better-stocked supermarket or health food store.
When you get it, you need to store it in a dark and cool, dry place, away from moisture and tightly closed. You don’t need to accumulate stocks that will stand open. In fact, it is best to buy smaller packages that you will use soon after opening. In addition, it is not bad to keep them in a box with a well-closed lid after opening.
Quite often our diet is deprived of some foods that can be beneficial to our health. Sometimes it’s because we don’t like them, sometimes because we don’t know how easy and useful their use can be. It’s the same with oat bran.
Now that you know the benefits, will you try to include oat bran in your menu and give it importance? According to everything, you should!
- Whole grain
- Soluble and Insoluble Fiber: What’s the Difference?
- Should I be eating more fiber?
- Evidence-Based Approach to Fiber Supplements
- Effects of dietary fiber type on blood pressure
- Oat ingestion reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- New Studies – Oat Bran Can Cut Cholesterol
- The Health Benefits of Beta-Glucan
- Dietary fibre and risk of breast cancer in the UK Women’s Cohort Study