We’ve all seen the pledge, right there on every Cheerios box: “Carefully Selected Oats That Can Help Lower Cholesterol.” Commercials for the popular General Mills cereal also boast of its cholesterol-lowering properties. But can eating a bowl of cereal really lower your cholesterol? And if so, how?
Cheerios contain soluble fiber from whole grain oats, which is the main reason why they’re able to make this claim. “This type of soluble fiber acts like a kind of ‘sponge,’ soaking up some of the cholesterol in the body so that the body can get rid of it naturally,” Cheerios’ website claims.
“The soluble fiber in whole grain oats forms a gel that binds some of the cholesterol in your digestive tract,” the site continues. “When soluble fiber binds to cholesterol, this cholesterol is ‘trapped’ and some of it is removed from your body naturally.”
Three grams of soluble fiber daily from whole grain oats, or about two cup and a half servings of Cheerios, are recommended to lower cholesterol. While the FDA has taken issue with the exact wording that Cheerios has used, the fact that soluble fiber from whole grains can help lower cholesterol can’t be refuted. So while plenty of other soluble fiber-rich foods, including oatmeal, popcorn, wild rice, brown rice, beans, and whole wheat bread will have the same effect, Cheerios certainly isn’t lying.