Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts. It’s full of whole grain goodness, protein, fiber and keeps me feeling full till lunch time. It’s also very versatile as you can see here from katheats. It’s viscous soluble fiber (-glucan) has been clinically proven in numerous studies to help lower and manage LDL cholesterol (this is the bad kind), and reduce heart disease risk. It essentially acts like a sponge and soaks up water and bile acids to be excreted by the body. This then signals the liver to convert circulating LDL cholesterol to new bile acids, and ultimately lowers serum cholesterol.
So how much should we be eating? It is recommended to consume 5-10 grams/daily. You can aim for 3 grams/day of glucan soluble fiber in oats or barley, and aim up to 10.2 grams of psyllium husk to meet your daily requirement. In 1/2 cup of oatmeal there is 2g of soluble fiber, or you can have a nice bowl of barley soup. Psyllium husk is usually found as a dietary fiber supplement (2 tbsp of psyllium powder), and can be mixed in your favorite recipes without adding a weird taste.
What are some other functional foods out there to help reduce heart disease when combined with an overall healthy diet?
- Plant sterols/stanols – get up to 2 grams daily divided over 3 meals (many products have these added now, like OJ, spreads, etc)
- Soy protein – up to 25 grams daily of this nutritious, cholesterol free protein source.
- Tree nuts and peanuts – great source of polyunsaturated fat, get 1.5 ounces or a large handful
Here’s a recipe to try to get your daily oatmeal quota. It’s not the traditional way to make oatmeal, but it is darn good!
Baked Oatmeal Triangles
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups fat-free milk
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, or a nice dark honey
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon (I like mine warm and spicy so I add more)
- 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 cups steel-cut oats (sometimes I sub 1/2 cup quinoa for some of the oats)
- 1 cup roasted sweet potato/yam (or you can add mashed ripe banana)
- Cooking spray
- Favorite condiments: low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, scoop of peanut butter, any kind of nuts, any kind of fruit, cinnamon, drizzle of honey, the possibilities are endless You could also make an egg sammy with the oatmeal layers?
To prepare oatmeal, combine 2 cups water, 2 cups milk, 1/4 cup brown sugar/honey, spices to your liking, raisins and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; stir in oats and quinoa (if using). Reduce heat, and simmer low 45 minutes or until very thick. Make sure to watch it carefully, because it likes to burn. Once it is nice and thick, add the sweet potato and mix well. Spoon oatmeal into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill overnight until set.
In the morning, preheat oven to 450.
Using a sharp knife, cut oatmeal into 8 equal rectangles; cut each rectangle in half diagonally to form 16 triangles. Or you can cut them into any shape! They won’t be too firm, so be careful getting them out.
Place triangles on a silpat-lined or sprayed baking sheet and sprinkle with additional cinnamon (optional) and bake at 450 until nice and crispy, about 15-20 minutes. Let set up for 5 minutes out of the oven.
Serve on top of cottage cheese and yogurt, alongside your favorite fruit. I like to top mine with some crumbled walnuts as well for some good fats!
Yum! These are also great to heat up for a quick breakfast during the week.
What are some ways you get your daily fiber intake? What obstacles are keeping you from your best heart health?