The Nation's Health + Wheat

Lipoproteins: Oat vs. wheat

Here's a fascinating 2002 study by Dr. Brenda Davy and colleagues at Colorado State University that examined the NMR lipoprotein differences between a diet enriched in oats and one enriched with wheat. (Davy BM, Davy KP, Ho RC et al. High-fiber oat cereal compared with wheat cereal consumption favorably alters LDL-cholesterol subclass and particle numbers in middle-aged and older men. Am J Clin Nutr 2002; 76:351-358.)

36 sedentary, overweight men (average BMI around 30--obese), aged 50-75 years, were given a diet enriched with either oat bran (as oatmeal and oat bran, providing 5.5 grams of beta-glucan) or wheat (as a hot cereal or Frosted Mini-Wheats), with equivalent calories in each group. All underwent baseline NMR lipoprotein analysis.

Three months later, there were no differences in "anthropometrics" like weight, waist size, or BMI (though there was a trend towards larger waistlines in the wheat group). The NMR lipoprotein analysis was repeated.

Comparison of the lipoprotein changes revealed:

--LDL cholesterol : Down 2.5% with oats, up 8.0% with wheat.

--LDL particle number : Down 5% with oats, up 14.2% with wheat.

--Small LDL : Down 17.3% with oats, up 60.4% with wheat .

--Triglycerides : Down 7.6% with oats, up 22.0% with wheat.

The across-the-board differences between the wheat and oat effects were astounding. In particular, note the extraordinary effect on small LDL particles: wheat triggered a 60% increase .

Similar studies yielding similar results have been conducted elsewhere, including Dr. Ronald Krauss' group at University of California-Berkeley.

Now, this was a study conducted under the somewhat artificial circumstances of a study. But imagine this sort of habitual intake continues, not for just three months, but for years. After all, wheat has expanded and metastasized to all three meals, snacks, every day, 7 days a week in most Americans' diet.

What a wonderfully graphic representation of the undesirable effects of wheat products. When you see Mini-Wheats, Shredded Wheat, whole grain bread, whole wheat bread, whole wheat crackers, Raisin Bran, and the thousands of other wheat-containing products that promise health, run the other way. Grab some oat bran on the way out.

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