Eating whole grains is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and U.S. researchers suggest a compound in oats may protect the heart.
Shengmin Sang of the Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University said there is growing evidence a phenolic compound avenanthramide (AVE) found only in oats -- might possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-itch and anti-cancer properties.
The culmination of the studies suggested oat AVEs may play an important role in protecting the heart, Sang said.
Most of the benefits have been attributed to the relatively high fiber, vitamin, mineral and phytochemical content of whole grains. The soluble fiber beta-glucan found in oats has already been recognized for its ability to lower both total and low-density lipoprotein, the "bad," cholesterol.
"While the data to support the importance of oat beta-glucan remains, these studies reveal that the heart health benefit of eating oats may go beyond fiber," Sang said in a statement.
"As the scientific investigators dig deeper, we have discovered that the bioactive compounds found in oats -- AVEs -- might provide additional cardio-protective benefits."
The study was funded by the Quaker Oats Center of Excellence.
Eleven scientists from around the globe presented the findings at the 247th annual conference of the American Chemical Society in Dallas.