Take heart! Oatmeal is a great comfort food and cardio-protector. You get a triple dose of cardiovascular healing and slash your risk of heart attack with a daily breakfast bowl of oats.
1. Eat oats to strengthen you heart. Oats contain magnesium, and higher magnesium consumption has been linked to a drop in heart attacks. The Nurses’ Health Study looked at the diets of 88,375 women over 26 years and found that those with the highest magnesium intake had the lowest levels of sudden cardiac death.
Boosting your magnesium consumption helps with a whole range of other heart-related problems. A 2008 review of magnesium studies found that dietary magnesium protected patients from high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, arterial cell damage, oxidative stress, metabolic syndrome, and blood clotting. Although researchers speculate that magnesium’s impact may be modest, that fact that it affects so many different aspects of heart disease is important.
At the same time, researchers have discovered that magnesium is more effective at stabilizing irregular heartbeats than conventional drugs. One cup of cooked whole oats has 15% of your daily requirement for magnesium.
2. Oat’s selenium may halt progression of heart disease. One thing that plays a key role in the progression of heart disease is oxidative stress caused by free radical damage to cells. According to a study published in the American Heart Journal, selenium boosts levels of an antioxidant enzyme (glutathione peroxidase 1) thought to help protect the cardiovascular system from oxidative stress. One cup of cooked whole oats have 25% of your daily need for selenium.
3. Unique antioxidants protect artery walls. In addition to minerals, oats have unique antioxidants called avenanthramides that help protect artery walls from the build-up of plaque. A Tufts University study published in Atherosclerosis found that the avenanthramides reduced the body’s production of molecules that attach plaque to the arteries.
4. Get whole oats. I hate to break it to you, but those quick oat packets are refined, full of sugar and won’t help your heart. Oat groats (whole, un-flattened oats), steel-cut oats, regular rolled oats and whole grain oat flour are what you need. You can cook up a big batch of oats or oatmeal in advance, then top it with yogurt, berries and nuts to have a super heart-healthy breakfast in a flash.
Check out our delicious heart-healing recipes here.
We love the Fruit, Nut and Coconut Granola for a quick dose of morning oats.