Many cereal boxes boast their nutritional contents. It’s common these days for cereal to be fortified with nutrients like folate and iron. But oats naturally have properties that make them one of the best choices for breakfast. Health researcher and biologist at the vegan charity Viva! Veronika Charvatova MSc explained: “One morning habit that helps you ward off disease is having a bowl of porridge for breakfast.”
For one, this source of carbohydrates is low in fat and high in protein. It is also packed with key nutrients, she explained.
“They pack a good bunch of vitamins and minerals too – several B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. All of these nutrients contribute to a strong immune system,” said Ms Charvatova.
But Ms Charvatova also emphasised how oats contain a group of chemicals called avenanthramides.
“These are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties and can calm irritation and itching,” she explained.”So, eating oats can help with a number of inflammatory conditions.”
The anti-inflammatory effect of these chemicals has been supported by studies over recent years.
One recent review from 2018, which looks at many research papers to come up with general conclusions, described the chemicals as having “major beneficial health properties” because of their anti-inflammatory effects.
Chronic inflammation is the cause of some of the biggest killer conditions in the UK, such as heart disease. It’s also linked to arthritis, cancer and Crohn’s disease.
Inflammation is the body’s response to something that stresses it, such as a germ. Your body sends out white blood cells to fight bacteria or heal an injury. But when this response is intense and prolonged it can cause damage to cells and tissues.
These compounds have also been found to have properties that can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, according to a review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences back in 2019.
Unfortunately, there are only a few clinical trials which have tested the effect of these compounds on cancer.
Ms Charvatova also explains that oats contain two different types of fibre – soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibres, which dissolve in water, can help manage the amount of sugar and cholesterol in your blood. A high blood sugar level increases your risk of diabetes while cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease.
Oats then, when consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle, can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, studies have shown.
But there’s even more. Oats can also help with your anti-ageing beauty regime. Again, it comes back to the anti-inflammatory role of the avenanthramides in the oats.
These chemicals can have the effect of calming down irritation and itching, explained Ms Charvatova.