You’re not alone if you crave oatmeal as a comfort food. And based on what research has revealed about the benefits of oatmeal, there are compelling reasons to include it in your diet.
Oatmeal is tasty and comforting, but it’s also extremely healthy and more versatile than you imagine. Here are five reasons why oatmeal should be a regular part of your diet and some healthy ways to incorporate it beyond breakfast.
Oatmeal Is Nutrient-Rich
A half cup of quick-cooking dry oats contains approximately:
- 150 kilocalories
- Plant protein in the amount of 5 g
- 27 grams of carbohydrates
- 4 grams of fiber for filling
- A few fat grams
Oats are also high in vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, B vitamins, and trace calcium and potassium levels. For a low-calorie snack, that’s a great vitamin and mineral package. All of this adds up to oatmeal being a nutrient-dense food.
Oatmeal Provides Antioxidants
Oat polyphenol antioxidants have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Polyphenols have been demonstrated to help fight aging and disease at the cellular level by lowering oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by a mismatch between the body’s ability to combat the impacts of free radicals on cells.
Polyphenols are also associated with protection against heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and obesity because of their bodyguard-like properties.
Oatmeal Contributes to Better Nutrition
If you’ve avoided oatmeal because of its carb level, you might be surprised to learn that this healthful carbohydrate aids in weight loss. According to one study, people who eat oatmeal regularly score higher on the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index, which measures overall diet quality.
Whole Grain Nutrients
The fact that oatmeal is a whole grain is one of the reasons it promotes healthy weight management and general nutrition. This is because, unlike processed grains, which are stripped of their bran and germ, whole grains retain fiber and essential nutrients.
According to a tiny study, oatmeal can also improve satiety or the sense of fullness that lasts after eating. The researchers evaluated people’s appetite and fullness levels after eating oatmeal or oranges for breakfast. As a result, those who ate oatmeal had more satiety and were less inclined to snack in the hours after breakfast.
Oatmeal’s Beta-Glucan Fiber Is Health-Protective
A half cup of oatmeal has around 14% of the daily fiber value, but the type of fiber in oatmeal is particularly protective.
Aids Immune Function
According to one study, oatmeal includes beta-glucan, a fiber proven to support healthy immunological function and lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Eating oatmeal regularly may help reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The article goes on to discuss how beta-glucan serves as an antioxidant as well. It has been connected to preventing artery hardening and neurological illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease in this role. Beta-glucan also aids in the maintenance of appropriate digestive function, inhibits gut inflammation, and functions as a prebiotic. Prebiotics effectively nourish beneficial germs in the stomach while inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Lowers blood sugar levels
A 2020 study explored oats as a short-term intervention for blood sugar management in type 2 diabetic patients. Oatmeal eating reduced blood sugar levels significantly and enhanced insulin sensitivity. According to the researchers, the effect is partly attributable to beta-glucan, and they concluded that oatmeal could be used to prevent and manage diabetes.
Oatmeal May Help You Live Longer
A 2019 meta-analysis discovered that eating oatmeal may reduce the risk of all causes of death, including heart disease, the top cause of death in the United States. The researchers looked at 33 prior studies to see if there was a link between specific foods and overall mortality or cardiovascular disease. They discovered that consuming whole grains, especially oatmeal, for breakfast was associated with a decreased risk of dying from any cause, including heart disease.
All Unsweetened Oatmeals Are Good Choices
I’m frequently asked if steel-cut oats are superior to other forms of oatmeal. The Oldways Whole Grains Council described several varieties of oats. Steel-cut oats, often known as Irish oatmeal, are groats or oat kernels sliced into two or three pieces with a sharp steel blade. This oatmeal is denser and takes slightly longer to cook.
Other unsweetened oatmeal varieties include Scottish oatmeal, a coarse, stone-ground variant, and old-fashioned rolled oats, which are oat groats that have been heated and then moved into flakes. Quick rolled oats are smaller flakes, and instant oatmeal is a finely chopped variant of rolled oats.
While steel-cut oats are less processed, each variety contains whole oats. Steel-cut and old-fashioned oats both have nutritional benefits. In other words, if it’s unsweetened, any type will provide similar benefits. When you buy unsweetened oatmeal, you can also choose the type and amount of sweetener you want to add, if any.
Healthy Ways To Eat Oatmeal
Start your day with a warm cup of oatmeal that has been flavored with nutritious ingredients. For example, you can flavor your oats with maple syrup, anti-inflammatory cinnamon or ginger, and fresh fruit. Add nuts, seeds, or nut/seed butter for extra plant protein and healthful fat.
You can also add finely chopped or shredded vegetables. Zucchini oats, sometimes known as ‘goats,’ have become a popular breakfast item for many people. Simply shred raw zucchini with a box grater and fold it in.
If you want to up the protein level even more, blend plant protein powder with dry, old-fashioned rolled oats before adding boiling water. Refrigerate your favorite overnight oats mixture as you sleep and serve chilled.
Include Something Savory
Oatmeal goes well with savory foods. Cook it simply, then top it with sautéed or oven-roasted vegetables and herbs, an egg, beans, lentils, or tofu for protein, and sliced avocado or pesto for healthy fat. Rolled oats can also be used to make veggie burger patties and as a substitute for breadcrumbs in everything from meatballs to casseroles.
It can be used as an ingredient.
Old-fashioned rolled oats can also be used in a variety of cuisines. You may make a crumble-like topping for warmed-up fruit by combining them with almond butter and cinnamon. Rolled oats or oat flour can also be used to make energy balls, pancakes, and baked goods such as cookies, bars, banana bread, and muffins.
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