Oats contain polyphenols called avenanthramides or AVE. Scientists have found AVEs are a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.
In the study, post-menopausal women aged 50-80 participated in a test to see whether eight weeks of consuming cookies made with AVE-containing oat flour would affect their response to an acute bout of downhill running.
Researchers divided the women into two groups: one group oat cookies with high levels of AVE – 4.6 mg AVE/oat cookie – the other ate cookies with 0.2 mg AVE.
The women ate one oat cookie in the morning and one in the evening for eight weeks. Before and after eating, they each exercised on a treadmill.
Researchers discovered that inflammation was suppressed and antioxidant activity was higher among the women who ate the high-AVE oat cookies.
Inflammation is a growing concern as the population ages.
Inflammation the body's natural response to injury and outside irritants. But when the irritants don't let up, because of a diet of high-fat foods, too much body fat and smoking, for example, the immune system can spiral out of control and increase the risk for disease, as The Wall Street Journal reports.
And experts say when inflammation becomes chronic it can damage heart valves and brain cells, trigger strokes, and promote resistance to insulin, which leads to diabetes. It also is associated with the development of cancer and other diseases.
Inflammation can also cause muscle pain that researchers say can lead to underperformance and exercise avoidance.
Li Li Ji, Ph.D., lead researcher from the U of M’s Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene and Exercise Science says, "whether the inflammation is provoked by aging or exercise, it can have a negative impact on health over time"
Until now, much of the research to combat chronic inflammation has focused on drugs.
But increasingly – as in the U of M study – scientists are investigating how certain components in foods might help.
Studies have found that dietary fiber from whole grains, for instance, may play a protective role against inflammation, and dairy foods may help ease inflammation in patients with a combination of risk factors.