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But are the newer takes on porridge as virtuous as you might think?
Certainly they are still essentially oats, although the instant porridge you get in sachet form are made by milling the oats more, so that they swell faster when mixed with fluid.
However, the real benefit of porridge comes from the soluble fibre in the oats.
The creamy texture comes from allowing the starch in the oats to break down, which is why you must give it time to cook.The thick gel — like wallpaper paste — that it forms in the gut helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol as well as boosting the excretion of bile salts.These salts are made of cholesterol, so the more bile salts your body gets rid of, the more cholesterol is used to make more bile salts, so in turn reducing the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood.Eating a simple bowl of porridge every day could transform the health of the nation, in one single step, says Chris Seal, professor of food and human nutrition at Newcastle University.‘I believe that if everyone started the day with porridge, it would have a significant impact on public health.’An expert in wholegrains and cereals, he himself has a bowl made with semi-skimmed milk every day — summer and winter.Indeed, when you look at the proven health benefits, it’s difficult to see how you could improve on a bowl of porridge.