Oats – the ‘next big thing’ after Turmeric?


SYSTEMIC inflammation is quite the buzzword in health circles these days. The link between ongoing inflammation in the body and chronic diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, vascular disease and certain cancers) is becoming more conclusive. As part of a shift to an overall healthier diet there is growing interest in specific foods that display anti-inflammatory activity.

Turmeric has had its fair share in the spotlight, but now attention is on other foods with the humble oat having its moment to shine. The active anti-inflammatory compound found in oats is avenanthramide. A tongue-twister of a title, but it does show some promising health benefits.

Oats have been used as a topical remedy to calm the redness and irritation associated with conditions such as eczema. Studies show that not only is this due to avenanthramides, but that they have an equally soothing effect on the whole body when ingested.

It is known that avenanthramides reduce the inflammation that triggers gradual narrowing of the arteries in heart disease, and they may have an anticancer effect on cells lining the colon. Not only that, avenanthramides display potent antioxidant activity and are able to quell free-radical damage associated with cell damage and aging.

Before there’s a scramble to isolate avenanthramide and pop it in capsules for resale, know that this is just one of the many incredible benefits of eating whole oats. These new findings, together with well-documented research showing that oats lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar, suggest that there may be few better ways to start the day than with a bowl of old-fashioned oat porridge.

This article was originally published in the Sunday Times Lifestyle Magazine

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