Q. Which bran is best – wheat bran or oat bran?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 28 March 2014.
Tagged: breakfast, breakfast cereals, cholesterol, cholesterol lowering, fibre, healthy eating, water

Q. Which bran is best – wheat bran or oat bran?

A. All types of bran are concentrated sources of fibre, being the outer fibrous layers of a grain. They are all useful but act in different ways in the body. Here's how I see their differences and which one is best for what. Read on.

Wheat bran (unprocessed bran)

At over 40 per cent fibre, wheat bran has the highest fibre content and is rich in insoluble fibre. It is a good choice for a healthy digestive system and is best at preventing constipation. Wheat bran has been show to absorb 7 times its weight as water so it's good at bulking up your faeces and giving the bowel lots of mass to excrete. It feeds your bowel biome so you grow those 'friendly bacteria' that are so important. But it tastes dry and chaff-like (see image).

Oat bran

Oat bran and barley bran contain around 17 per cent fibre, mostly a soluble fibre known as beta-glucan, which helps lower blood cholesterol levels and keeps your heart healthy. It looks whiter and chunkier than wheat bran and is more appetising to consume (see image).

Rice bran

Rice bran (if you can find it) has some 26 per cent fibre so it lies in between both and has a mix of both sorts of fibre. It has a pleasant slightly malty flavour and is nice to consume sprinkled over your usual cereal.

What's best?

The best advice is to eat a range of different fibres depending on your health needs. For example, if you're aiming for regularity or to avoid constipation, go for a tablespoon or two of wheat bran with your breakfast cereal or yoghurt.

Alternatively a bowl of All-Bran cereal which is made from wheat bran may be more convenient. And tastes way more palatable. I like to mix it together with my muesli or some other cereal so I get the fibre I need but it still tastes pleasant to eat.

If you have high cholesterol, you'd be better off with a tablespoon or two of oat bran. Or else add oat bran to your baking to replace one-third of the usual wheaten white flour.

Just remember to increase your intake gradually - start with one teaspoon a day and gradually increase over a week to 1/2 cup. Don't overdo any bran (it's hard to do) as excess can have negative effects on your bowel.

Make sure you drink plenty of water.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.