Oats – The [Gut] Health Benefits – a Key Troo Ingredient

oats in spoon

We kind of all know that oats are good for most of us – but do you know why?  Beautiful, British Gluten free oats are the biggest component of our Troo Granola.  We thought we should review exactly why they are such an amazing ingredient, particularly from a gut health perspective.

Oats contains essential fibre – which we’ll come on to.  They also have loads of micronutrients and are a recognised source (≥15% recommended daily allowance; RDA) of iron, potassium, copper  and magnesium. They are also as a rich source of (≥30% RDA) of thiamine, folate, zinc and phosphorus.  For the finer details please do refer to The Role of Oats and Oat Products in the UK Diet by Dr Carrie Ruxton and Rin Cobb.

 

Gut Health Benefits of Oats

1. The Fibre Factor

We talk a lot about fibre, and how important it is.  If you missed it do read The Fibre File by Josie Wareing our Nutritional Advisor.  Oats are a great source of prebiotic fibre that helps to feed and grown your good gut bacteria.

Also, when the bacteria consume this fermentable fibre they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) including butyrate.  The SCFA are one of the key elements of gut health as they are the main source of energy for the cells lining your colon.  Research shows that they may reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other conditions.

Fibre also helps with bowel movements (I know…).  You’re aiming for at least one per day, but up to 3 is fine too.  It’s important in removing toxins and wastes efficiently from the body which in turn reduces our risk of problems such as  colon disease and the horrible haemorrhoids.

2. The Avena Benefits

Early research in the US has shown that oats contain two unique types of plant nutrients with potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which could benefit our gut as well as our overall health. They are known as avenanthramides and avenacosides.

Research author Associate Professor Shengmin Sang, PhD says “My research goal is to identify bioactive compounds in functional foods and herbal medicine to prevent chronic disease, mainly focusing on colorectal cancer and metabolic syndrome.” He explains “Now this research is being extended to phytochemicals in whole grains, because they are a very important part of the diet.”

Other Health Benefits

3. Beta Glucan Impacts

Within oats fibre represents six to nine per cent of the oat grain, half of which is the soluble fibre, beta glucan. Beta glucan is a soluble dietary fibre that’s strongly linked to improving cholesterol levels and boosting heart health.  The soluble fibre is especially concentrated in the outer layers of the oat grain. Much of the research into the cholesterol lowering effects of soluble fibre has centred around oat beta glucan.

The Charity Heart UK has a fantastic fact sheet all about this.  In easy to understand language it explains how the soluble fibre dissolves inside the digestive tract where it forms a thick gel – a bit like wallpaper paste.  This binds to excess cholesterol and cholesterol like substances within the gut and help to prevent these from being absorbed into the body. The gel and the cholesterol is then excreted as part of the body’s waste.

To make a claim a food has to contain at least 0.75g of oat beta-glucans in a typical portion – we estimate a bowl of Troo Granola contains c. 1g of beta glucans per 40g serving, so you’ve got that covered!

4. Oats and Diabetes

If you are currently diagnosed with, or you are at risk of diabetes, oats may offer additional benefits. NICE guidelines recommend increasing fibre intake to help prevent Type 2 diabetes and to manage both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, with an emphasis on including foods with a lower glycaemic index.

Troo benefits from our oat content with regards to this – but chicory root inulin (our second largest ingredient) also has scientific proof with regards to it’s impact on blood glucose levels.  This makes us an ideal breakfast product for those with diabetes.

Are All Oats Gluten Free?

Oats are intrinsically gluten free. However many are cross contaminated in the growing and harvesting process and so cannot claim to be 100% gluten free.  The oats we use have been extensively tested to ensure we can make the claim ‘Gluten free’ with no compromise, you can read more about the extensive testing that takes place.

However a small percentage of coeliacs are still sensitive to gluten free  – so please do take care if you are newly diagnosed.

 

Hopefully this convinces you of the health benefits of oats. The factsheet from Heart UK has lots of ideas of how to incorporate more into your diet – a bowlful of Troo Granola each day would be a great start!