Oats are among the healthiest grains on earth.
They’re a GLUTEN-FREE whole grain and a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
Benefits include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Here are 9 evidence-based health benefits of eating oats and oatmeal.
What Are Oats and Oatmeal?
Oats are a whole-grain food, known scientifically as Avena sativa.
Oat groats, the most intact and whole form of oats, take a long time to cook. For this reason, most people prefer rolled or crushed oats.
Instant (quick) oats are the most highly processed variety. While they take the shortest time to cook, the texture may be mushy.
Oats are commonly eaten for breakfast as oatmeal, which is made by boiling oats in water or milk. Oatmeal is often referred to as porridge. They’re also often included in muffins, granola bars, cookies and other baked goods.
1. Oats Are Incredibly Nutritious
They are a good source of protein, carbs & fiber
Oats are loaded with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidant plant compounds like Manganese, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Folate, Vitamin B1 & B5 to name a few.
This means that oats are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.
2. Whole Oats Are Rich in Antioxidants
Whole oats are high in antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols. Most notable is a unique group of antioxidants called avenanthramides, which are almost solely found in oats.
Avenanthramides may help lower blood pressure levels. In addition, avenanthramides have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects
Ferulic acid is also found in large amounts in oats. This is another antioxidant.
3. Oats Contain a Powerful Soluble Fiber Called Beta-Glucan
Oats contain large amounts of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber.
The health benefits of beta-glucan fiber include:
- Reduced LDL and total cholesterol levels
- Reduced blood sugar and insulin response
- Increased feeling of fullness
- Increased growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract
4. They Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally. One major risk factor is high blood cholesterol.
Beta-glucan may increase the excretion of cholesterol-rich bile, thereby reducing circulating levels of cholesterol in the blood.
5. Oats Can Improve Blood Sugar Control
Type 2 diabetes is a common disease, characterized by significantly elevated blood sugars. It usually results from decreased sensitivity to the hormone insulin.
Due to the soluble fiber beta-glucan, oats may improve insulin sensitivity and help lower blood sugar levels.
6. Oatmeal is Very Filling, Which May Help You Lose Weight
Not only is oatmeal (porridge) a delicious breakfast food — it’s also very filling
Eating filling foods may help you eat fewer calories and lose weight. By delaying the time it takes your stomach to empty of food, the beta-glucan in oatmeal may increase your feeling of fullness
Beta-glucan may also promote the release of peptide YY (PYY), a hormone produced in the gut in response to eating. This satiety hormone has been shown to lead to reduced calorie intake and may decrease your risk of obesity
7. Finely Ground Oats May Help with Skin Care
It’s no coincidence that oats can be found in numerous skin care products. Makers of these products often list finely ground oats as “colloidal oatmeal.”
Colloidal oatmeal (finely ground oats) has long been used to help treat dry and itchy skin. It may help relieve symptoms of various skin conditions, including eczema.
8. They May Decrease the Risk of Childhood Asthma
Asthma is the most common chronic disease in kids. It’s an inflammatory disorder of the airways — the tubes that carry air to and from a person’s lungs.
Although not all children have the same symptoms, many experience recurrent coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Studies suggest that early introduction of oats, may actually be protective. One study reports that feeding oats to infants before the age of 6 months is linked to a decreased risk of childhood asthma.
9. Oats May Help Relieve Constipation
Elderly people often experience constipation, with infrequent, irregular bowel movements that are difficult to pass.
Studies indicate that oat bran, the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain, may help relieve constipation in older people significantly reducing the need to use laxatives.
How to Incorporate Oats into Your Diet
You can enjoy oats in several ways.
The most popular way is to simply eat oatmeal (porridge) for breakfast.
Here is a very simple way to make oatmeal:
- 1/2 cup of rolled oats.
- 1 cup (250 ml) of water or milk.
- A pinch of salt
- Combine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the oats, stirring occasionally, until soft.
To make oatmeal tastier and even more nutritious, you can add cinnamon, fruits, nuts, seeds and/or Greek yogurt.
Also, oats are often included in baked goods, muesli, granola and bread.
Although oats are naturally gluten-free they are sometimes contaminated with gluten. That’s because they may be harvested and processed using the same equipment as other grains that contain gluten. If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity choose oat products that are certified as gluten-free.
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Taryn Leigh Armstrong