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When it comes to simple pleasures, a warm bowl of oatmeal on a chilly winter morning certainly fills the bill. Oats are not only comfort food at its best but also a boon to heart health.

“Studies prove that oats lower bad cholesterol, and controlling cholesterol is one of the best ways to prevent heart attacks,” says Christopher Suhar, a cardiologist at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego. “It’s the fiber in oatmeal that does the trick.”

This classic breakfast food contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which work together to prevent cholesterol from coating the coronary arteries. The soluble fiber binds to LDL (bad) cholesterol, so the body can’t absorb it, while insoluble fiber aids in elimination, keeping your digestive tract running smoothly, says Suhar.

Ruth Frechman, registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says that it doesn’t matter if you choose steel-cut, rolled, or instant oats: They all pack the same nutritional punch. “No matter what kind it is, it’s a whole grain and has important health benefits,” she says. “I recommend that everyone eat oatmeal.” 

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