(Natural News) Oats are a type of cereal or whole grain food that offers plenty of health benefits. It is a veritable source of fiber, which promotes good digestion and even helps people lose weight. Oats also contain high levels of antioxidants, which fight inflammation and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Research on its history suggests that before oats were considered as food, they served various medicinal purposes. In a new study published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, researchers from Taibah University in Saudi Arabia and Benha University in Egypt looked into the ability of oats to lower blood cholesterol. They found that oat seed extracts can improve lipid metabolism and restore normal liver function in rats with induced hyperlipidemia.
What is hyperlipidemia?
Hyperlipidemia is defined as abnormally high levels of lipids in the blood. These lipids or fats come in many forms, most notably cholesterol and triglycerides — the two types of fat involved in heart disease and liver disease. Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol, and high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol, greatly contribute to cardiovascular disease. Together with triglycerides, too much cholesterol can harden or clog the arteries, which eventually leads to heart attack or stroke. Meanwhile, a diet rich in cholesterol and triglycerides can also compromise liver function. This type of diet leads to fat accumulation in the liver, which, in turn, causes irreparable damage that affects the organ’s ability to function well. The liver not only detoxifies blood and helps eliminate drugs from the body, it also stores nutrients and breaks down proteins and fats. (Related: Naturally manage your blood cholesterol with fenugreek seeds.)
Oat seed extracts can improve serum lipid profile and liver function
Hyperlipidemia is a major health concern worldwide. While there are a lot of medications available to reduce blood cholesterol, patients who take them experience different side effects which cause discomfort and affect their day-to-day functions. Hence scientists are currently looking for potential natural treatments that could alleviate this condition and cause fewer or no side effects.
For their study, the researchers investigated the effects of a mucilaginous extract obtained from oat seeds on lipid metabolism and liver function. They used rats for their experiment and induced hyperlipidemia by feeding them a high-fat diet ad libitum for six weeks. They then divided the rats into seven groups:
- Group I received a normal diet and served as the normal control.
- Group II, which served as diseased control, received a high-fat diet consisting of one percent cholesterol and two percent coconut oil for six weeks.
- Group III, which served as standard control, received a high-fat diet plus one milligram per kilogram body weight (mg/kg body wt) ezetimibe, a synthetic drug used to lower blood cholesterol.
- Groups IV and V, which served as treated-SD and treated-HD, respectively, received a high-fat diet plus small (SD, 25 mg/kg body wt) and high doses (HD, 50 mg/kg wt) of oat seed extract daily.
- Groups VI and VII received a normal diet plus SD and HD of the extract.
The researchers took blood serum samples for analysis on days 28 and 42 of the experiment and collected tissue specimens for histopathology. They reported that the oat seed extract significantly decreased elevated serum lipid profile parameters such as total lipids, triacylglycerols (TAGs), cholesterol, LDL and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). It also normalized serum HDL levels in rats fed a high-fat diet.
In addition, the oat seed extract significantly decreased elevated serum liver enzyme levels in the rats, suggesting a normalization of liver function. The results of histopathological examination of tissue samples aligned with the blood test results.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that the oat seed extract has a therapeutic effect on hyperlipidemia and can be used to lower blood cholesterol levels.