Cholesterol/LipidsCochrane LibraryDiet-Nutrition

Whole-grain oats lower cholesterol, but by how much?

The Cochrane Collaboration has reanalyzed the results from studies of 914 patients treated with oatmeal foods for at least 4 weeks. Eight studied the effects of whole-grain foods or diets for at least 4 weeks.

Here’s what they found.

  • 7 of 8 studies compared the response to eating oatmeal foods to lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol blood levels to a control diet.
  • Total cholesterol declined 7.7 mg/dL (0.2 mmol/L)
  • LDL cholesterol declined 6.9 mg/dL (0.18 mmol/L)
  • None of the studies reported and effect on morbidity or mortality due to coronary heart disease

The bottom line?

  • Let’s say your LDL cholesterol is 159 mg/dL.
  • Based on the classification by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, you have a “borderline high” level.
  • Your target is to get your LDL cholesterol to at least 129 mg/dL — “near optimal/above optimal.”
  • By following a diet high in whole grains you lower this value by 6.9 mg/dL.
  • That’s a new LDL cholesterol level of 152 mg/dL.
  • Not enough.

Eating whole-grain foods is complementary to a comprehensive program that also includes drugs and exercise to lower cholesterol and lower your risk of complications from heart disease.

4/18/07 19:34 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.