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Oats are a source of beta-glucan, which is important in helping to lower total cholesterol, Deanna Copland writes.
Beta-glucan absorbs water in the digestive tract, forming a thick, gel-like substance which binds to cholesterol in both foods and the body, preventing it from being absorbed into the blood- stream.
In herbal medicine, oats are used as a nervine to nourish the nervous system. They are higher in protein, calcium and essential fatty acids than most other grains.
How the oats have been processed will hugely influence their effect on your blood sugar levels. Instant oats, with a glycaemic index (GI) rating of 75 for example, have been rolled flat to enable the tiny fragments to cook much faster.
Unfortunately, this makes them much faster to digest, therefore spiking blood sugar levels and leaving you hungrier, sooner. When selecting your rolled oats, look for jumbo or steel-cut oats which have a GI of 53.
This is a great way to ensure you are eating a nutritious breakfast which you can make ahead of time. With summer nearing, a cold breakfast now seems more appealing.
Interestingly, consuming oats in this raw state also reduces the total absorbable calories while keeping you feeling fuller for longer than if you were to cook them.
120g steel-cut/jumbo oats
100ml Nature's Harvest almond milk or coconut milk
200g coconut yoghurt/Greek yoghurt
1 red apple, grated (including skin)
1 Tbsp raisins
1 Tbsp rice malt/maple syrup
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and cover well. Leave in the fridge overnight then add 3 Tbsp pomegranate seeds and 3 Tbsp roughly chopped pistachio nuts*, to serve.
* Studies have shown that about 4 Tbsp of pistachio nuts, eaten as part of a healthy diet, can increase the levels of antioxidants in the blood of adults with high cholesterol which can actually lower LDL (``bad'') cholesterol. This is why I have chosen to add them to this heart-healthy breakfast option.