9 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Oat Bran
The oat grain (Avena sativa) is harvested and processed to remove the inedible outer hull. What's left is the oat groat, which is further processed to make oatmeal.
Oat bran is the outer layer of the oat groat, which sits just beneath the inedible hull. While oat groats and steel-cut oats naturally contain bran, oat bran is also sold separately as its own product.
Oat bran is linked to many health benefits, such as improved blood sugar control, healthy bowel function, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Here are 9 health and nutrition benefits of oat bran.
1. Packed With Nutrients
Oat bran has a well-balanced nutritional composition.
While it has similar amounts of carbs and fat as regular oatmeal, oat bran boasts more protein and fiber — and fewer calories. It is especially high in beta-glucan, a powerful type of soluble fiber (1, 2, 3).
One cup (219 grams) of cooked oat bran contains (3):
- Calories: 88
- Protein: 7 grams
- Carbs: 25 grams
- Fat: 2 grams
- Fiber: 6 grams
- Thiamine: 29% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Magnesium: 21% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 21% of the RDI
- Iron: 11% of the RDI
- Zinc: 11% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 6% of the RDI
- Potassium: 4% of the RDI
In addition, oat bran provides small amounts of folate, vitamin B6, niacin, and calcium.
Its high nutrient and low calorie content make it very nutrient dense.
Oat bran is naturally gluten-free but can be contaminated with gluten during growing or processing. If you avoid gluten, look for oat bran specifically labeled gluten-free.
Oat bran packs more protein and fiber than rolled or quick oats. It's also high in many key vitamins and minerals.
2. High in Antioxidants
Oat bran is a great source of polyphenols, which are plant-based molecules that act as antioxidants.
Oat bran is especially high in antioxidants compared to other parts of the oat grain, and it is a particularly good source of phytic acid, ferulic acid, and powerful avenanthramides (5).
Oat bran is high in multiple antioxidants that may help combat chronic diseases and offer health benefits.
3. May Reduce Heart Disease Risk Factors
Heart disease is responsible for approximately one in three deaths worldwide (10).
Diet plays a key role in heart health. Certain foods can influence your body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and other risk factors for heart disease.
Oat bran may help reduce certain risk factors, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure.
For starters, it's a great source of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that dissolves in water to form a viscous, gel-like substance in your digestive tract (11).
Beta-glucans may reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood because they help remove cholesterol-rich bile — a substance that aids fat digestion (12).
In a review of 28 studies, consuming 3 grams or more of oatbeta-glucan reduced LDL (bad) and total cholesterol by 0.25 mmol/L and 0.3 mmol/L, respectively (13).
Other studies note that beta-glucans can significantly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure — the top and bottom numbers in a reading, respectively. This is true for both healthy adults and those with pre-existing high blood pressure (14, 15).
Oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol is harmful because it's linked to a higher risk of heart disease (16).
Oat bran is high in beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that may help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure — two key risk factors for heart disease.
4. May Help Control Blood Sugar Levels
People with this disease may struggle to control their blood sugar levels. Poor blood sugar control can lead to blindness, heart attacks, strokes, and other health issues.
Foods high in soluble fiber — such as oat bran — may help control blood sugar levels.
Soluble fiber like beta-glucan helps slow the digestion and absorption of carbs through your digestive tract, stabilizing blood sugar levels (18).
A review of 10 studies in people with type 2 diabetes found that consuming 6 grams of beta-glucan daily for 4 weeks significantly reduced blood sugar levels. What's more, 3 grams or more of beta-glucan for 12 weeks reduced blood sugar levels by 46% (19).
Oat bran's soluble fiber may prevent blood sugar spikes and control blood sugar levels — especially in people with type 2 diabetes.
5. May Support Healthy Bowels
Constipation is a common issue that affects up to 20% of people worldwide (23).
Oat bran is high in dietary fiber, which helps support healthy bowel function.
Oat bran provides both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Research shows that oat bran can help support healthy bowels.
One study in older adults revealed that eating oat-bran biscuits twice per day for 12 weeks reduced pain and improved the frequency and consistency of bowel movements (25).
Oat bran is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which may help relieve constipation and support bowel health.
6. May Provide Relief for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The two main types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Both are characterized by chronic bowel inflammation.
Oat bran may help provide relief for people with IBD.
That's because oat bran is high in dietary fiber, which your healthy gut bacteria can break down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate. SCFAs help nourish colon cells and may reduce bowel inflammation (27, 28).
One 12-week study in people with ulcerative colitis found that eating 60 grams of oat bran daily — providing 20 grams of fiber — reduced stomach pain and reflux symptoms. Additionally, it significantly raised colon levels of SCFAs like butyrate (29).
A review in adults with IBD determined that regularly eating oats or oat bran may help relieve common symptoms, such as constipation and pain (30).
That said, there are still too few human studies on oat bran and IBD. More research is needed.
Oat bran may help relieve IBD symptoms by nourishing colon cells and helping reduce inflammation. However, more human studies are needed.
7. May Lower Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States (31).
Oat bran has several properties that may lower your risk of this cancer.
For one, it's high in soluble fibers — like beta-glucan — that act as food for your healthy gut bacteria. These bacteria ferment fiber, which produces SCFAs.
In addition, oat bran is a great source of antioxidants, which may suppress cancer growth.
However, more human research in this area is needed.
Animal and test-tube studies indicate that several oat bran compounds may protect against colorectal cancer, but more human studies are needed.
8. May Aid Weight Loss
Oat bran is high in soluble fiber, which may help suppress your appetite.
Foods that keep you full may aid weight loss by reducing your calorie intake (40).
For instance, one study found that people who ate oat bran for breakfast felt fuller and consumed fewer calories at the next meal than those who had a corn-based cereal (41).
Oat bran is high in soluble fiber, which may suppress hunger hormones and boost fullness hormones. In turn, this may aid weight loss.
9. Easy to Add to Your Diet
It's easy to add oat bran to your daily routine.
Hot oat-bran cereal is one enjoyable application. You'll need:
- 1/4 cup (24 grams) of raw oat bran
- 1 cup (240 ml) of water or milk
- A pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
First, add the water or milk to a pot — along with the salt — and bring it to boil. Add the oat bran and reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking for 3–5 minutes while stirring constantly.
Remove the cooked oat bran, add honey and cinnamon, and stir.
You can also mix oat bran into bread dough and muffin batter. Alternatively, try adding raw oat bran to foods like cereals, yogurts, and smoothies.
Oat bran is delicious, versatile, and easy to add to your diet. Try it in baked goods, as a hot cereal, or sprinkled atop various snack or breakfast foods.
The Bottom Line
Oat bran is the outer layer of the oat groat and packed with health benefits.
It's high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which may aid heart health, blood sugar control, bowel function, and weight loss.
Best of all, oat bran is easy to add to your diet. Try it as a standalone cereal, in baked goods, or atop your favorite snack.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Zahida Sherman
Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.
Falling in Love With Food All Over Again<p>Slowly, through my most intimate relationships with friends and partners, I began to see the beauty — and rewards — of cooking.</p><p>I got tired of giving in to defeat and always bringing chips or paper products to social gatherings. I started asking my mom to send me her Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes. I even volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my place.</p><p>Each time I heard my loved ones sing the praises of the foods I prepared for them, I felt a tinge more confident that I could carry out our traditions my way.</p><p>In reaching out to other relatives for their favorite recipes, I learned that they had a little help of their own. They didn't rely solely on their ancestral cooking instincts. They turned to Black chefs for guidance.</p><p>These 7 cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired my family and fed us in nutrients, joy, and spiritual sustenance. They're also helping me overcome my personal fears of cooking.</p>
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The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.
The History<p>The Middle Fork Nooksack drains glacier-fed headwater streams that run off the icy summit of 10,778-foot Mt. Baker. The Middle Fork joins the North Fork and then the mainstem of the Nooksack River, which travels to Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound. The entire Nooksack watershed stretches 830 square miles across Washington and into British Columbia.</p>
A Plan Comes Together<p>The Middle Fork dam is not a pool dam built for water storage. Much of the time, water flows over the top until dam operators drop a floodgate to divert water to new locations. That water travels about 14 miles through tunnel and pipeline to Mirror Lake, then Anderson Creek, and to Lake Whatcom before finally being delivered to residents' taps.</p><p>Before removing the dam, engineers had to move the water intake 700 feet upstream and situate it at an elevation that still enabled city water withdrawals throughout the year, regardless of flow conditions.</p><p>They also needed to make sure that the rushing water didn't sweep up fish and accidentally send them through the water-supply system.</p><p>"The solution required a fairly complex design in the intake structure, including a fish exit pipe out of that structure to put fish back into the river in a way that meets current environmental permit standards," explains LaCroix.</p>
Project layout for the removal of the Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam and rebuilding of water intake. City of Bellingham<p>Despite the cost and the work, she says, being able to continue to meet their municipal water obligations while opening up habitat for threatened species has been a win-win.</p><p>"I think there's a lot of benefits to having a dam removal versus fish passage — the main one being that you get a free-flowing river that can be a dynamic ecosystem and change over time," she says. "A static fish ladder just can't provide that same level of ecosystem benefit."</p>
Restoration Success<p>Despite local authorities' championing dam removal on the Middle Fork, the project has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by heated discussions about a much larger potential project — removing <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/feds-reject-removal-of-4-snake-river-dams-in-key-report/" target="_blank">four federal hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River</a>, a major tributary of the Columbia River.</p><p>Proponents of dam removal there see it as the best chance for recovering threatened salmon populations, including Chinook, which could help starving Southern Resident killer whales. Those dams also provide irrigation water, barge navigation and hydropower, so there's been more pushback against removal efforts.</p><p>Previous dam removals around the country, however, have proved successful at aiding fish recovery and river restoration.</p><p>Most notably the 1999 demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/edwards-dam-removal/" target="_blank">Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River</a> restored the annual run of alewives, a type of herring essential to the food web. The fish run has gone from zero to 5 million in the two decades since dam removal. Blueback herring, striped bass, sturgeon and shad have also extended their reach. And the resurgence has brought back osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife, too.</p><p>The overwhelming success of river restoration on the Kennebec helped to spur a nationwide dam removal movement that's now seen 1,200 dams come down since 1999. Last year a record <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/a-record-26-states-removed-dams-in-2019/" target="_blank">90 dams</a> were removed in 26 states, including <a href="https://therevelator.org/cleveland-forest-dam-removal/" target="_blank">20 dams in California's Cleveland National Forest</a>.</p>
Spider excavators remove on dam on San Juan Creek in California's Cleveland National Forest. Julie Donnell, USFS<p>The results have been seen in the Pacific Northwest, as well, which boasts the largest dam removal thus far in the country. In 2011 and 2014, the demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/" target="_blank">two dams</a> on Elwha River, which runs through Washington's Olympic National Park, opened up 70 miles of habitat that had been blocked for a century. Scientists have started seeing all five species of salmon native to the river coming back, particularly Chinook and coho. Bull trout, they've observed, have increased in size since the dams were removal.</p>
Benefits on the Middle Fork Nooksack<p>McEwan hopes to see a similar outcome on the Middle Fork.</p><p>Like the Elwha the Middle Fork Nooksack is a relatively pristine river with little development, and dam removal is expected to provide a big boost to fish. The additional miles of spawning habitat are important, but so is the temperature of that water.</p><p>The dam removal will open access to cold upstream waters, which are ideal for salmon and getting harder to come by as climate change warms waters and reduces mountain runoff.</p><p>"This is really great for the climate change resiliency for these species," says McEwan.</p><p>Steelhead will get back 45% of their historic habitat in the river, and scientists expect Chinook populations to increase in abundance by 31%.</p><p>That <em>could</em> help Southern Resident killer whales.</p><p>"When you get to the ocean, it's a little bit of a black box in terms of what you can model and say definitively is going to help, but more fish is better for orcas," McEwan says.</p><p>Upstream habitat will see benefits, too.</p><p>Oceangoing fish like salmon enrich their bodies with carbon and nitrogen while at sea. When they return to their natal rivers to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients they carry back upriver become important food and fertilizer for both riverine and terrestrial ecosystems — aiding everything from trees to birds to bears.</p><p>"Once the fish start making their way back, it will start changing the whole ecological system," says Delgado.</p><p><span></span>But any ecological benefit from salmon restoration, either in the ocean or the upper watershed, won't be immediate.<br></p><p>"The population of salmon on the Middle Fork is so low that we expect it's going to take quite a while to rebound," she says. "But the big picture is that what's good for salmon is good for the region — our history and our destiny are intricately intertwined."</p><p>After decades of work, that process of restoration has finally begun.</p>
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It can grow to a maximum of six inches (16 centimeters), change color depending on mood and habitat, and, like all seahorses, the White's seahorse male gestates its young. But this tiny snouted fish is under threat.
Building an Ocean Seahorse Destination<p>Seahorses are found in tropical and temperate coastal water worldwide, but are most abundant around Australia, China and the Philippines. </p><p>Trade in the tiny creatures is strictly regulated because of their use in traditional medicine, aquariums and their sale as dried curios. But because they are poor swimmers and cannot easily move elsewhere, habitat loss is a particular threat for these curious animals. </p><p>Seahorses wrap their tails around seagrass and corals to avoid being carried away on currents. They use the habitat to spawn and hide from predators such as crabs, while also feeding on riches of plankton and small crustaceans living in the reef.</p><p><span></span>Where corals aren't available, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/aqc.1217" target="_blank">scientists</a> found seahorses taking up residence in fishing nets and old crab traps abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. </p>
Mixing With the Locals<p>Baby seahorse mortality is high in the wild because they are easily caught, so those bred in the protected environment of the aquarium weren't ready to be released into the wild until early May.</p><p>The team released 90 new arrivals into Sydney Harbor, placing some directly into the purpose-built hotels, and others onto a net that wild seahorses had already settled on.</p><p>Before setting them free, the researchers marked each young seahorse with a fluorescent tag with unique IDs inserted just beneath the skin to track how they get on in the different environments. </p><p>"The most exciting part was being able to put these animals into the wild and then go back a month later and still see them surviving and growing," said McCracken. </p><p>The seahorses will be old enough to mate and reproduce around October or November 2020. And researchers hope that by then, they will be able to breed with the wild population. </p>
Building a Global Seahorse Hotel Chain<p>With seahorses everywhere facing the loss of their coral reef homes, similar projects have sprung up in places like Greece and South Africa, home to the world's most endangered seahorse, the Knysna seahorse. </p><p>"The endangered South African seahorse is benefiting from something quite similar, even though it wasn't intentional," said Peter Teske, professor at the Department of Zoology, University of Johannesburg.</p><p>In the South African <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322649251_An_endangered_seahorse_selectively_chooses_an_artificial_structure" target="_blank">case</a>, seahorses have bedded down in "Reno mattresses" — wire cages filled with rocks — that were used to build a new marina. Researchers from NGO Knysna Basin Project found the structures acted as a refuge for the animals.<span></span></p><p><span></span>While Teske describes the seahorse hotels as "a positive news story" and a great way to create public awareness of conservation, he added that establishing artificial habitats in some areas will only prevent the extinction of local populations.</p><p>"For a complete recovery, it is necessary to give the natural habitat a chance to regenerate," said the seahorse expert. </p>
Underwater Mascot<p>In Australia, the researchers hope the project could provide an opportunity to raise awareness not only of the plight of the Sydney seahorses but the other animals with which it shares its ocean habitat.</p><p>The waters around Sydney and the east coast are rich in biodiversity and include several threatened species like the weedy seadragon — a relative of the seahorse — and the grey nurse shark. Like the seahorse, they're also under pressure from pollution, ocean traffic and habitat loss through storms and coastal construction. </p><p>"It's a good thing to get people's support and interest. The seahorses are a useful vehicle to get people concerned if the harbor is in trouble," said David Booth, professor of marine ecology at the University of Technology Sydney who is also working on the project. </p><p>The hotels have become an attraction for divers hoping to catch a glimpse of these small but near mythical creatures. </p><p>"Everyone loves seahorses," added Booth, "they are so popular." </p>
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