Oats are widely regarded as one of the healthiest grains you can eat, as they’re packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
The oat grain (Avena sativa) is harvested and processed to remove the inedible outer hull. What’s left is the oat groat, which is further processed to make oatmeal.
Oat bran is the outer layer of the oat groat, which sits just beneath the inedible hull. While oat groats and steel-cut oats naturally contain bran, oat bran is also sold separately as its own product.
Oat bran is linked to many health benefits, such as improved blood sugar control, healthy bowel function, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Here are 9 health and nutrition benefits of oat bran.
1. Packed With Nutrients
Oat bran has a well-balanced nutritional composition.
While it has similar amounts of carbs and fat as regular oatmeal, oat bran boasts more protein and fiber — and fewer calories. It is especially high in beta-glucan, a powerful type of soluble fiber (1, 2, 3).
One cup (219 grams) of cooked oat bran contains (3):
- Calories: 88
- Protein: 7 grams
- Carbs: 25 grams
- Fat: 2 grams
- Fiber: 6 grams
- Thiamine: 29% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Magnesium: 21% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 21% of the RDI
- Iron: 11% of the RDI
- Zinc: 11% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 6% of the RDI
- Potassium: 4% of the RDI
In addition, oat bran provides small amounts of folate, vitamin B6, niacin, and calcium.
Its high nutrient and low calorie content make it very nutrient dense.
Oat bran is naturally gluten-free but can be contaminated with gluten during growing or processing. If you avoid gluten, look for oat bran specifically labeled gluten-free.
Oat bran packs more protein and fiber than rolled or quick oats. It’s also high in many key vitamins and minerals.
2. High in Antioxidants
Oat bran is a great source of polyphenols, which are plant-based molecules that act as antioxidants.
Antioxidants protect your body from potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. In high amounts, free radicals can cause cell damage that is linked to chronic diseases (4).
Oat bran is especially high in antioxidants compared to other parts of the oat grain, and it is a particularly good source of phytic acid, ferulic acid, and powerful avenanthramides (5).
Avenanthramides are a family of antioxidants unique to oats. They have been linked to reduced inflammation, anticancer properties, and lower blood pressure levels (6, 7, 8, 9).
Oat bran is high in multiple antioxidants that may help combat chronic diseases and offer health benefits.
3. May Reduce Heart Disease Risk Factors
Heart disease is responsible for approximately one in three deaths worldwide (10).
Diet plays a key role in heart health. Certain foods can influence your body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and other risk factors for heart disease.
Oat bran may help reduce certain risk factors, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure.
For starters, it’s a great source of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that dissolves in water to form a viscous, gel-like substance in your digestive tract (11).
Beta-glucans may reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood because they help remove cholesterol-rich bile — a substance that aids fat digestion (12).
In a review of 28 studies, consuming 3 grams or more of oatbeta-glucan reduced LDL (bad) and total cholesterol by 0.25 mmol/L and 0.3 mmol/L, respectively (13).
Other studies note that beta-glucans can significantly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure — the top and bottom numbers in a reading, respectively. This is true for both healthy adults and those with pre-existing high blood pressure (14, 15).
Oat bran also contains avenanthramides, a group of antioxidants unique to oats. One study found that avenanthramides work together with vitamin C to prevent LDL oxidation (5).
Oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol is harmful because it’s linked to a higher risk of heart disease (16).
Oat bran is high in beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that may help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure — two key risk factors for heart disease.
4. May Help Control Blood Sugar Levels
Type 2 diabetes is a health issue that affects over 400 million people (17).
People with this disease may struggle to control their blood sugar levels. Poor blood sugar control can lead to blindness, heart attacks, strokes, and other health issues.
Foods high in soluble fiber — such as oat bran — may help control blood sugar levels.
Soluble fiber like beta-glucan helps slow the digestion and absorption of carbs through your digestive tract, stabilizing blood sugar levels (18).
A review of 10 studies in people with type 2 diabetes found that consuming 6 grams of beta-glucan daily for 4 weeks significantly reduced blood sugar levels. What’s more, 3 grams or more of beta-glucan for 12 weeks reduced blood sugar levels by 46% (19).
Other studies suggest that eating oat bran prior to or alongside a carb-rich meal can slow down the rate that sugars enter your bloodstream, possibly stopping blood sugar spikes (20, 21, 22).
Oat bran’s soluble fiber may prevent blood sugar spikes and control blood sugar levels — especially in people with type 2 diabetes.
5. May Support Healthy Bowels
Constipation is a common issue that affects up to 20% of people worldwide (23).
Oat bran is high in dietary fiber, which helps support healthy bowel function.
In fact, just 1 cup (94 grams) of raw oat bran contains an impressive 14.5 grams of fiber. That’s approximately 1.5 times more fiber than quick or rolled oats (3).
Oat bran provides both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in your gut, which helps soften stool. Insoluble fiber passes through your gut intact but can make stool bulkier and easier to pass (11, 24).
Research shows that oat bran can help support healthy bowels.
One study in older adults revealed that eating oat-bran biscuits twice per day for 12 weeks reduced pain and improved the frequency and consistency of bowel movements (25).
Another 12-week study found that 59% of people who consumed 7–8 grams of oat bran daily were able to stop taking laxatives — as oat bran was just as effective at relieving constipation(26).
Oat bran is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which may help relieve constipation and support bowel health.
6. May Provide Relief for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The two main types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both are characterized by chronic bowel inflammation.
Oat bran may help provide relief for people with IBD.
That’s because oat bran is high in dietary fiber, which your healthy gut bacteria can break down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate. SCFAs help nourish colon cells and may reduce bowel inflammation (27, 28).
One 12-week study in people with ulcerative colitis found that eating 60 grams of oat bran daily — providing 20 grams of fiber — reduced stomach pain and reflux symptoms. Additionally, it significantly raised colon levels of SCFAs like butyrate (29).
A review in adults with IBD determined that regularly eating oats or oat bran may help relieve common symptoms, such as constipation and pain (30).
That said, there are still too few human studies on oat bran and IBD. More research is needed.
Oat bran may help relieve IBD symptoms by nourishing colon cells and helping reduce inflammation. However, more human studies are needed.
7. May Lower Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States (31).
Oat bran has several properties that may lower your risk of this cancer.
For one, it’s high in soluble fibers — like beta-glucan — that act as food for your healthy gut bacteria. These bacteria ferment fiber, which produces SCFAs.
Test-tube and animal studies note that SCFAs may protect against bowel cancer by suppressing the growth of cancerous cells and inducing cancer cell death (32, 33).
In addition, oat bran is a great source of antioxidants, which may suppress cancer growth.
Test-tube and animal studies suggest that oat bran antioxidants — such as avenanthramide — may either suppress the growth of or kill colorectal cancer cells (9, 34).
Oat bran is considered a whole grain — functionally, if not technically — because it’s high in fiber. Population studies link diets rich in whole grains to a lower risk of colorectal cancer (35, 36).
However, more human research in this area is needed.
Animal and test-tube studies indicate that several oat bran compounds may protect against colorectal cancer, but more human studies are needed.
8. May Aid Weight Loss
Oat bran is high in soluble fiber, which may help suppress your appetite.
For starters, soluble fiber may raise levels of hormones that help you feel full. These include cholecystokinin (CKK), GLP-1, and peptide YY (PYY) (37, 38).
It also may reduce levels of hunger hormones, such as ghrelin (37, 39).
Foods that keep you full may aid weight loss by reducing your calorie intake (40).
For instance, one study found that people who ate oat bran for breakfast felt fuller and consumed fewer calories at the next meal than those who had a corn-based cereal (41).
Oat bran is high in soluble fiber, which may suppress hunger hormones and boost fullness hormones. In turn, this may aid weight loss.
9. Easy to Add to Your Diet
It’s easy to add oat bran to your daily routine.
Hot oat-bran cereal is one enjoyable application. You’ll need:
- 1/4 cup (24 grams) of raw oat bran
- 1 cup (240 ml) of water or milk
- A pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
First, add the water or milk to a pot — along with the salt — and bring it to boil. Add the oat bran and reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking for 3–5 minutes while stirring constantly.
Remove the cooked oat bran, add honey and cinnamon, and stir.
You can also mix oat bran into bread dough and muffin batter. Alternatively, try adding raw oat bran to foods like cereals, yogurts, and smoothies.
Oat bran is delicious, versatile, and easy to add to your diet. Try it in baked goods, as a hot cereal, or sprinkled atop various snack or breakfast foods.
The Bottom Line
Oat bran is the outer layer of the oat groat and packed with health benefits.
It’s high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which may aid heart health, blood sugar control, bowel function, and weight loss.
Best of all, oat bran is easy to add to your diet. Try it as a standalone cereal, in baked goods, or atop your favorite snack.