Oat Bran Cereal- The Healthy Food You Should Be Eating Every Day!
I will preface this article with the declaration that while there is no such thing as a superfood, there are some foods, oat bran cereal being a good example, that are excellent recommendations for your daily diet, whether your goal is weight loss, maintaining a healthy weight or optimizing your health. Oat bran cereal falls into this category and is an excellent addition to any diet, even for those on vegan and gluten free diets. Oat bran is not a very popular or even very well-known food, as most people are far more familiar with its close cousin, oatmeal. Which is a staple recommendation for weight loss and healthy diets. For decades in my own practice as a personal trainer in New York City, I recommended oatmeal as a first choice for breakfast for all my clients, and it proved itself time and time again in helping my clients maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day and as part of a dietary regime that has helped hundreds lose weight and keep it off. With a record like that, oatmeal is quite a tough act to follow, but I am always on the lookout for new and healthy additions to my own diet and that’s how I stumbled across oat bran cereal. One day I happened across a package of oat bran cereal and took a hard look at the nutritional profile. I was surprised by the fact that oat bran cereal was even higher in fiber, (almost twice as much), than oatmeal, whether it was rolled oats or steel cut oats. I added it immediately to my diet and was surprised that as much as I loved oatmeal, oat bran cereal filled me up more and I preferred the texture as well. Soon I had all my trainers eating it, then my clients. And more of my clients seem to prefer oat bran cereal over oatmeal and they report that it also keeps them fuller longer. Today, oat bran cereal is my recommended breakfast staple, and, in this article, we explore why oat bran cereal is better than oatmeal, how it works for weight loss and why you should be having it every day! Thanks as always for taking the time to read my work and do be sure to share this article with anyone who might find it to be of interest!
All oat products come from whole oats, which are a grain with a very hard outer shell that is indigestible. As such to derive any nutritional benefits from them, the outer hull must first be removed. When the hull is removed they are called oat groats, which comprise of oat bran, the endosperm and the germ. The outer layers of the oat groats form the bran and they must first be milled so that foreign materials are removed, and the groats are stabilized and isolated into a form suitable for cooking.  After being milled, there are several ways the oats can be processed, into steel cut oats, rolled oats or oat bran cereal. Steel cut oats are made by passing the groats through, (you guessed it!), steel cutters that slice the groats several times. Rolled oats are made by first steaming the groats and them pounding them flat with rollers. By making the flakes thick, you get regular oatmeal sometimes called, old fashioned oats. To make instant oatmeal, the oats are rolled thinner and steamed for a longer period, which cuts down the time needed to cook them, but unfortunately, also reduces the fiber content, which we shall see is one of the key benefits of any oat product. Oat bran is the course outer layer of the groats and has the most insoluble fiber content as it is the hull of the groats designed to protect the seed.  When this high fiber layer is ground we get oat bran cereal, which would naturally be higher in fiber than any other form of oatmeal.
Oat Bran Cereal As Part of A Gluten Free Diet
Today, avoiding wheat and products containing gluten is a bit of a trend, and there is an ever-growing demand for gluten free products. Gluten consumption must be avoided by those suffering from celiac disease, which is a well-defined medical condition. However, these cases make up a less than 1% of the world’s population. [19,20] On the other hand as many as 20-40% of adults who self-report food hypersensitivity in some studies blame gluten as a trigger of symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, joint or muscle pain and irritable bowel syndrome-like symptoms. Savvy marketing companies are also aware that the label “gluten free” increases consumers perception of the product being healthy, leading to increased sales and increased consumption, even though a food being gluten free has absolutely nothing to do with it being a reasonable addition to a healthy diet or not.
oat bran is 100% gluten free
That said and without going into the controversy surrounding gluten sensitivity, oat bran cereal, when obtained from uncontaminated sources is indeed gluten free, despite some misconceptions to the contrary. Cereals such as wheat, rye and barley contain proteins called prolamins, which is biological term for gluten, which can provoke negative symptoms in those with celiac disease. Gluten makes up as much as 80-85% of the protein content in wheat. In oats, however, the storage proteins are not prolamins but avenins, and make up only 10-15% of the protein profile. Avenins in oats are structurally different from prolamin proteins, [16, 17] and peer reviewed data has shown a low incidence of intolerances to oats.[17,18] So much so that oats are recommended as part of a gluten free diet to those suffering from celiac disease. [17,22] The European Union, then later the United States has allowed for oats to be labeled as gluten free as long as contamination from wheat, barley or rye is below 20 ppm. Since oats are commonly grown, milled and processed alongside wheat and barley contamination often occurs, which could explain why early studies detected sensitivity issues among those with celiac disease consuming oats, but these findings were not repeated when controlled for the consumption of uncontaminated oats in normal quantities. In the milling of regular oat products, manufacturing codes allow for as much as 2% “foreign objects.”  Thus, if gluten is an issue, it’s important to purchase oat bran labeled as gluten free and not “organic” as paying more for organic oats might not confer any real benefits. And only those labeled gluten free fall under the more stringent requirements for low gluten contamination levels.
The Weight Loss Benefits From Eating Oat Bran Cereal
One of the most difficult aspects of weight loss is controlling your appetite. On an energy restricted diet, your body eventually responds with a set of neuroendocrine changes that make you want to eat more in an attempt to regain any weight lost and to make matters worse, your metabolic rate is lowered in order to make weight gain easier. Your body has no idea that you are not in danger of starving to death and that you live in a time and place where food supply is superabundant, and so, as a result of our ancestral genetic coding, we are designed to conserve energy as much as possible when energy intake is reduced for any prolonged period of time. This creates a huge physiological barrier to losing excess weight and a vicious circle of weight loss that leads to an increased appetite, and slower metabolism, which consequently leads to weight gain. A cycle that can not only be incredibly frustrating but also create a sense of personal failure, when the causes are simply organic in nature. Given the huge variety of food choices available to us, it is very difficult to resist the drive to eat even when your body isn’t in weight-regain-mode after weight loss. One countermeasure that works long term is to consume a diet of foods with very high satiety values. Which are foods that inhibit hunger and keep you full for long after eating it.  In many popular diets, high fat foods are used to control satiety, but this can come at a price, since fats are higher in calories than carbohydrates like oats. Fats are far more energy dense with 9 calories per gram as opposed to only 4 calories per gram in carbohydrates, and high fat foods can very easily be over consumed. As many of us can attest that it’s not that hard to eat more cheese, or peanut butter than you should, whereas no one is going to overdose on oat bran cereal anytime soon. Making it a better choice for avoiding overeating while delivering far less calories in the process.
How Oat Bran Cereal Helps Control Appetite
Under normal circumstances, the average meal takes two to five hours to empty from your stomach. Your meal then takes about three to six hours to go through the small intestine and then can stay in the colon for twelve to forty-eight hours.  Beta-glucan, the fiber found in oat bran cereals, is a viscous fiber, which means it absorbs large quantities of water and forms gels in the process.  These gels decrease the amount of time it takes for food to empty from the stomach and the bulk created from its water absorption can increase stomach distention.  Increased stomach distention may sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t. The term doesn’t mean your abdominal region pops out prominently like a beer belly, but refers to an internal process where the organ naturally expands. Stomach distension triggers signals of fullness, which makes you feel like you have eaten enough both during and after meals. Making the high fiber content in oat bran cereal an invaluable tool in appetite control.
You can think about the fiber in oat bran cereal as being like a sponge that absorbs water and expands. That expansion fills you up and makes you eat less!
The fiber in oat bran cereal has also been shown to decrease the rate of glucose absorption in the small intestine and slower glucose release means lowered insulin response. Which is another plus for appetite control as slow and steady glucose and insulin response is correlated with increased satiety. As food moves through the gastrointestinal tract, your body naturally secretes various hormones, such as ghrelin, polypeptide YY and glucagon-like-peptide that send signals to the brain to make us feel satisfied with our meal and stop us from overeating. These hormones also control food intake and overall energy balance and the decreased food transit time from a meal high in oat bran fiber means that there is more time for these gut hormones to be secreted and thus making it more likely that we will not overeat.
The Health Benefits Of Oat Bran Cereal
That oat bran cereal is one of the highest fiber foods that you can find makes it a great addition to a healthy diet and its particular fiber, beta-glucan has a range of beneficial health properties. In 1997, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted a health claim stating that a daily intake of just 3 grams of oat beta-glucan can lower the risk of coronary heart disease. [8, 9] Oat beta-glucan has also been demonstrated to reduce blood cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure. [10,14] Oat bran also has potential anti-cancerous properties, as it reduces compounds in our bodies that are known causative agents of colon cancer. [11,12,13] From an athletic perspective, oat bran beta glucans have even been shown to increase endurance times and recovery after high intensity exercise better than other carbohydrate sources.  An important attribute not only for endurance type athletes, but also for those of us, like myself and my clients who engage in high intensity training protocols.
Oat bran cereal is also incredibly convenient. It’s lightweight and easy to carry and when I travel, all I need to do is add some water and I have a high fiber carbohydrate source. Some might think I am crazy, but when traveling and I am in a rush, I can even eat it plain, as it tastes that good! (But I will admit that my tastes are a bit on the shall we say eccentric side.) Now as wonderful as oat bran cereal might be, it is important not to fall into the panacea trap as no one food can make a poor diet a good one, nor can any one food magically make you lose weight of there isn’t an overall commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Oat bran cereal is only one of the many tools that you can use to help achieve your fitness goals, along with development of good eating habits, a strong exercise program and a diet of almost exclusively whole or minimally processed foods that promote satiety and lessen the likelihood of overeating. That said, oat bran cereal with milk, added sugar and salt defeats the purpose as a healthy food with unhealthy additives makes it just another junk food, and it’s critical to keep this in mind. No matter how much marketing might say otherwise. Plain oat bran cereal is an excellent dietary addition, but do be wary of any varieties with added sugars, as it will not have the same positive effects on appetite, and its health benefits might be compromised.
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