Is porridge better for health than statins?

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Don’t believe the hype: health headlines dissected



Forget the mass prescription of statins to reduce harmful cholesterol – the nation’s health could be improved by simply eating a bowl of porridge a day. This is according to Chris Seal, Professor of Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University, who says the incredible health benefits of the humble bowl of porridge outweigh those gained by taking daily cholesterol-lowering medication. What’s the story morning glory?



Porridge is known to have many credentials that contribute to good health; it’s low in fat, high in fibre, low in sugar, and contains minerals and B vitamins. But the thing that gives porridge’s benefits the edge is its high beta glucan content. Beta glucan is a soluble fibre that forms a thick ‘gel’ in the stomach, reducing appetite after eating, while lowering the absorption of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol.

Prof. Seal says that, according to studies, eating 3g of beta glucan a day, roughly equivalent to the amount found in a 70g bowl of porridge, can reduce levels of LDL cholesterol by approximately 7%. Beta glucan also forms acids including butyric acid, which works on the DNA of cells in the colon and produces an anti-cancer effect.



The beta glucan found in porridge works by stimulating the excretion of bile salts, made of cholesterol. Therefore, the more cholesterol used to produce bile salts, the less cholesterol found in the blood stream.

“I believe that if everyone started the day with porridge, it would have a significant impact on public health,” says Prof. Seal, who practices what he preaches, eating porridge made with semi-skimmed milk all year round.



Research shows that the cholesterol-reducing powers of the beta glucan in porridge may potentially rival those of statins, with the additional bonus of significantly cutting rates of heart disease and possibly bowel cancer, with no side effects. Commenting on the studies, Dr George Grimble, Principal Research Fellow in the medicine division at University College London, and occasional consumer of porridge, said: “That’s similar to the results you might get from taking a statin.”


What the press said:

‘The amazing truth about porridge?’

‘THIS 75p breakfast better than drugs to lower cholesterol’

‘Here’s why porridge is the healthiest option for breakfast’