People are eating oat bran as well as talking about the latest "wonder food" that promises to lower cholesterol. And the benefits of oat bran are a fact, not a fad.

Last year the American Medical Association reported that a diet high in oat bran, a rich source of soluble fiber, can significantly reduce blood cholesterol levels. According to a report in Ladies' Home Journal, a Meredith magazine, researchers believe soluble fiber somehow binds with cholesterol in the digestive tract, preventing it from being absorbed.Experts also say that adding 50 to 100 grams (13 to 23 cups) of oat bran daily to a low-fat diet can lower cholesterol by 3 to 15 percent. Eating a daily dose of oat bran doesn't require a complete dietary overhaul, even though the taste of plain oat bran is not appealing.

Here are some easy ways to add oat bran to basic, favorite recipes:

Try stirring two-thirds of a cup of oat bran into 6 to 8 ounces of stuffing mix. Add one-third cup of oat bran to one pound ground beef for meatloaf, or add one-third of a cup to a 14-ounce gingerbread-cake mix. Toss one-fourth of a cup of oat bran into 2 cups prepared mashed potatoes, or 2 1/4 cups quick biscuit mix, or 8 ounces of corn muffin mix, or one-third cup pancake mix. Try sprinkling a tablespoon of oat bran on a cup of low-fat yogurt. Or, create a topping for cooked vegetables by mixing one-fourth cup oat bran, one-fourth cup plain breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley, salt and pepper.

Oats also make fine breakfast cereals. Look for old-fashioned or quick cooking rolled oats, which are made by steaming and rolling oat grains. Also try steel-cut oats, produced by slicing oat kernels into thin pieces and processing them with a small amount of heat. Oatmeal, the most familiar breakfast cereal, has less soluble fiber than regular oat bran, but it is nevertheless a good source.