Life Extension Magazine®

Bowl of oats rich in beta glucans, soluble fiber, and vitamins

Superfood: Oats

Oats are packed with beta glucans, polyphenols, soluble fiber, vitamins, minerals, and the unique antioxidants avenanthramides. Oats can reduce glucose and cholesterol.

Scientifically reviewed by: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N, in June 2021. Written by: Laurie Mathena.

It turns out one of the simplest breakfast foods is also one of the healthiest.

Oats, as part of your regular diet, can help improve markers of heart health, improve glycemic response, and support modest weight loss.

Their heart-healthy benefits are so well documented that the FDA has allowed foods containing oat bran or rolled oats to carry a label claiming they may reduce the risk of heart disease, when combined with a low-fat diet.

But oats carry benefits beyond heart health.

They are a nutritionally well-balanced food that contains high amounts of fiber, and more protein and healthy unsaturated fat than many other whole grain foods.1

Oats contain beta glucans. Unlike beta glucans found in other foods which have different health benefits, oat beta glucans have been found to help lower cholesterol levels, help control blood glucose levels, reduce high blood pressure, and alleviate ischemic heart injury.2

Adding oat beta glucans to the diet has been shown to help reduce LDL and total cholesterol.3

And a study of type II diabetics found that consuming oat bran flour high in beta glucan lowered the glycemic response and decreased the after-meal glycemic response.4

The beta glucan found in oatmeal can prolong the time it takes your stomach to empty food, which can help you feel fuller, longer.5 In addition, eating beta glucans promotes the release of a satiety hormone that can help regulate appetite.6

In addition to beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols, oats contain a unique group of antioxidants called avenanthramides.

Avenanthramides can enhance nitric oxide production and inhibit smooth muscle cell proliferation—actions that could help prevent atherosclerosis by dilating blood vessels and improving blood flow.7

For added taste and nutrients, top a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon, chopped nuts, sliced fruit, or chia seeds.


  1. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012;52(7):629-39.
  2. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4(6):1265-72.
  3. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Dec;100(6):1413-21.
  4. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2005 Aug;15(4):255-61.
  5. Nutr J. 2014 May 28;13:49.
  6. Nutr Res. 2009 Oct;29(10):705-9.
  7. Atherosclerosis. 2006 Jun;186(2):260-6.