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May 15, 2004

If Clogged Arteries Are Your Problem, Try Eating Oats

Phenolic antioxidants in oats have been found to obstruct the ability of cholesterol to stick to artery walls. Researchers funded by the Agricultural Research Service have shown that these compounds, called avenanthramides, significantly suppress the adhesive molecules that "glue" blood cells to artery walls.

The study was done by nutritionist Mohsen Meydani and colleagues at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University in Boston, Mass. Meydani is director of the HNRCA's Vascular Biology Laboratory.

When blood cells stick to artery walls and cause inflammation, plaque deposits build up and narrow the passageways through which blood flows. The suppression of plaque provided by avenanthramide compounds may lessen the gradual constriction of vessels that leads to hardening of the arteries.

To test the compound's anti-degenerative activity within arterial walls, the scientists purified avenanthramides from oats and exposed them to human arterial wall cells for 24 hours. They then observed the mixture under incubation. Meydani found that the ability of blood cells to stick to arterial wall cells was significantly reduced.

Water-soluble fiber from oats has long been believed to help reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol circulating in blood. To gain heart-healthy benefits from fiber and avenanthramides, the researchers suggest adding oat products as part of an overall healthy diet and cutting down on high-fat, high-cholesterol foods.

As a grain, oats are included in enriched cereals and breads, in oatmeal as rolled oats, and in muffins and other baked goods as oat bran.

Read more about this research in the June issue of Agricultural Research magazine, available on the World Wide Web at:


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