Potential Benefits of Oats in Type 2 Diabetes

April 3, 2014
Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP

New research shows an oat-enriched diet plays a positive role in decreasing the inflammatory status involved in cardiovascular disease (CVD) associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Oats are known to have many positive health benefits, which can be attributed to the fact that polyphenols possess antioxidant, antigenotoxic, antiatherogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Oatmeal is currently marketed as a dietary source to lower cholesterol and is highly recommended as a healthy choice by dieticians and other healthcare professionals. Additionally, new research shows an oat-enriched diet plays a positive role in decreasing the inflammatory status involved in cardiovascular disease (CVD) associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

Researchers in the UK studied the effects of a reinforced oat-enriched diet on a small group of 22 newly-diagnosed type 2 diabetics controlled only by diet and lifestyle changes. To do so, they tested an oat-enriched diet against the participants’ standard diet for newly-diagnosed diabetics, as well as their pre-intervention habitual diet prior to the study. The 8-week study used a crossover design, the results of which were published in the March 2014 issue of Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

The authors postulated that microparticles create a surface environment favorable for thrombin formation and cytokine synthesis, so any subsequent impact on platelets, endothelial, and monocyte activation may contribute to CVD development. Levels of cell-derived microparticles are potential biomarkers of vascular health and potential prognostic markers for atherosclerotic disease, they noted.

Participants in the enhanced-diet arm ate a minimum of 70-100 g of oat products daily with a mean intake of 131 g/day. The researchers measured the group’s inflammatory status using the levels of cell-derived microparticles released by leukocytes, monocytes, and platelets following activation or apoptosis. The majority of microparticles were platelet-derived, they found.

According to the authors, the oats-enriched diet was associated with a decrease in the levels of microparticles derived from leukocytes, monocytes, and platelets. The addition of oats to the standard appropriate diet resulted in fewer circulating microparticles — an improvement that was noted even after just one oats-enriched meal.

However, the oats-enriched and standard appropriate diets failed to alter glucose levels, inflammation measured by C-reactive protein (CRP), antioxidant capacity, and oxidative stress. The researchers concluded the 8-week study design may be inadequate, so a longer-term study is required to determine if those parameters are affected by increased oat intake. Nevertheless, they said encouraging increased dietary oats may provide simple means for patients who have been diagnosed with T2DM or are at high risk of developing the condition, as it may improve some associated comorbidities.