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An extensive review of nearly all the research done on oat bran finds that a healthy serving every day can lower a person's cholesterol levels by 3 percent to 4 percent, researchers said.

The review and reanalysis of 19 studies was an attempt to assess all of the available evidence on oat bran and come to a definitive conclusion, the study's authors said.Most studies have suggested that oat bran helps lower cholesterol, but some highly publicized research has found that it did not.

The review, presented Thursday at an annual meeting of the American Heart Association, was based on a new mathematical analysis of the data from the 19 studies.

It found that people who ate 3 grams of oat bran a day - the amount in two large bowls of oatmeal - lowered their blood-cholesterol levels by about 6 points. Normal cholesterol levels range from about 150 or lower to 200.

"Consumption of oats will effect a modest - but not insignificant - reduction in blood cholesterol," said the study's principal author, Cynthia Ripsin of the University of Minnesota.

"I thought her study was very well-performed," said Dr. Patrick McBride, a preventive cardiologist at the University of Wisconsin.

"It's strong evidence that soluble fibers reduce blood cholesterol in people with elevated cholesterol."