Expert Q&A

Oatmeal: Does Instant Oatmeal Lower Cholesterol?

I want to eat more oatmeal for my cholesterol, but I don’t have much time in the morning. Is instant oatmeal just as good as regular?

Oatmeal contains beta glucan, a specific kind of fiber that lowers blood cholesterol. Instant oatmeal contains the same beta glucan and the same amount of fiber as regular oatmeal. The main health difference between the 2 varieties lies in the other ingredients.

Flavored instant oatmeal contains added sweeteners, so it has more calories; unless you eat artificially sweetened varieties. Of course, you can also add your own sweeteners (and calories) to regular oatmeal.

Also, note that the serving size in a packet of instant oatmeal contains less oats than the ½ cup dry oats serving listed on the box of regular oatmeal. Less oats means less fiber. Most single-serve packets have 3 grams of fiber. A serving of regular oatmeal has 4 grams, because it contains a slightly larger portion of oats. From a heart-healthy standpoint, however, instant oatmeal is just as good as regular.

Donna Feldman, MS, RD
Contributing Expert

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