Oatmeal may warm your stomach and soul, but guess what?  It can help your health so much that some doctors are prescribing it as medicine.  Here’s the inside scoop on why you need this breakfast food, especially for your heart health.

A Spoonful of Heart Health

It’s all about cholesterol, a waxy substance which we all have in our body, Our livers make it, and it’s found in certain foods. There is high-density lipoprotein cholesterol – HDL, which is the good kind (hint:  think H for healthy) and low-density lipoprotein – LDL – the bad cholesterol. All of it affects your heart health, depending on the balance of HDL-LDL.  Studies show foods high in soluble fiber, such as oatmeal, lowers your bad, or LDL cholesterol.

Oatmeal Type Matters

Reach for steel cut oats, which are not rolled into flat flakes, like many quick oatmeal products. Steel cut oats are whole, toasted oat grains. The soluble fiber, found in these oats, inhibits the absorption of the bad, LDL, cholesterol.  A one-quarter cup serving of steel cut oats contains two grams of soluble fiber per serving .  Harvard research says eating whole grains can boost your heart health and lower your risk of coronary heart disease.

What to Add, What to Avoid

To make your bowl of oatmeal even heart healthier, add Chia seeds, which are loaded with fiber and omega 3-fatty acids, to boost the heart health power of your oatmeal even more.  Try fresh or frozen berries for antioxidants and fiber.  Apples, chopped up, give an extra fiber boost and are a great addition to oatmeal. Cinnamon, sprinkled on top, is thought to lower cholesterol and has antioxidant powers.

Avoid pre-packaged oatmeal packets.  They are often loaded with sugar, salt and most likely not made with healthy steel cut oats.

Start your day with oatmeal and load up on the best extras for a cold weather breakfast may be your prescription for better heart health!