Sunday, January 15, 2006

Oats block build up of artery plaque

The oatmeal was especially good this morning and I decided that I wanted to see HOW GOOD it was for me. So, I went to the USDA site to look for some information from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The ARS is headquartered in my backyard in Beltsville and it's where I, and some assistants, monitor a famous bluebird trail (thus my email name, bluebirder). The research performed by the ARS is top-notch, important, and benefits us all.

I found this:

Scientists funded by ARS have discovered that certain compounds in oats hinder the ability of blood cells to stick to artery walls.

The oat compounds are called avenanthramides. The research team recently found that they significantly suppressed adhesive molecules that "glue" blood cells to artery walls. When blood cells stick to—and cause inflammation of—the artery wall, plaques build up. That accumulation—called atherosclerosis—can eventually block the blood vessel. The suppression provided by avenanthramides in oats may prevent this narrowing of the passageways through which blood flows.

These data suggest that the avenanthramides in oats may have great potential to prevent vascular dysfunction and development of atherosclerotic lesions by inhibiting vascular smooth muscle cell growth in arteries.

Oatmeal has a long history in Scottish society because oats are better suited to the short, wet growing season in Scotland than wheat. Hence they became the staple grain of that country.

Samuel Johnson referred, disparagingly, to this in his dictionary definition for oats:
A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.

To which his biographer, James Boswell, is said to have retorted:
Which is why England is known for its horses and Scotland for its men.

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