Oat Bran vs. Wheat Bran: Consider the Benefits of Each

What and Oats
Oat and wheat bran are both beneficial.

When you compare oat brand vs wheat bran, each has its benefits for health and wellness. Both can become part of a well balanced vegetarian or vegan diet.

Comparing Oat and Wheat Brans

Walk down the cereal aisle at the grocery store and you'll notice immediately all of the health claims attributed to oat and wheat bran. There are slightly different health benefits from eating each one.

Oat Bran Health Benefits

In various human trials, oat bran eaten as oatmeal for breakfast appears to have reduced cholesterol by about 10 percent as compared to wheat bran, which lowered cholesterol levels by roughly 4 percent.Oat bran contains soluble fiber, which forms a sticky, gel-like substance in the digestive tract that binds to cholesterol and pushes it out of the body through the stools. Wheat bran on the other hand contains insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is good for bowel health and promotes regularity, but it does not remove cholesterol from the body.

While the current fad is to promote oatmeal and oat bran as a cholesterol lowering food, there's some doubt about its claims as a magic bullet in the fight against cholesterol. The study cited above from the University of Toronto goes to great pains to point out that the study participants may in fact have lowered their cholesterol levels by swapping out foods rich in saturated fat for plant-based breakfast foods, which do tend to lower cholesterol levels in general. Someone prior to the study who regularly consumed bacon and eggs for breakfast, for example, would undoubtedly show an improvement in blood cholesterol levels when he switches to a bowl of oatmeal regardless of the effect of soluble fiber itself.

Oat bran contains about 7 grams of fiber per one half-cup serving. It has about 150 calories and contains B vitamins such as folate and niacin. Most people enjoy the taste, especially with additions to their morning breakfast bowl of cinnamon (which is believed to lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels), raisins and walnuts (packed with heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.)

Wheat Bran Health Benefits

On the flip side, wheat bran also promotes good health but in different ways. Constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and digestive problems plague many Americas. Researchers recommend about 25-35 grams of dietary fiber per day for adults yet most people consume only about 12 grams, less than half of what is needed to promote regularity. The answer may be a healthy one half cup serving of wheat bran, which has only about 60 calories yet 12 grams of fiber and a good dose of niacin and vitamin B6.

Good bowel health is essential for many things. The bowel or colon removes toxins from the body, and if you are not eliminating regularly, toxins can build up in the system. Bacteria in the gut also produce vitamin K and help synthesize many vitamins. New evidence also shows that serotonin, the brain chemical responsible for moods, is produced mostly in the colon rather than in the brain as once thought. A healthy colon usually means the entire body is healthy, so eating foods rich in fiber and taking good care of your colon can boost your overall health.

Eat Whichever Bran You Like

So whichever food you decide wins the battle of oat bran vs. wheat bran, you'll want to get plenty of bran products in your diet. Cereals are one place to start, as are whole grain rolls, breads, and other foods. You can mix wheat bran into yogurt or other dishes to add some crunch. Breakfast seems to be the easiest meal for most people to ingest bran-rich foods, but no matter what time of day, both oat and wheat bran provide B vitamins, fiber and health benefits.

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Oat Bran vs. Wheat Bran: Consider the Benefits of Each