There’s so much information available on the internet about nutrition. Searching any one food can produce thousands of results, many which contradict each other. Add in the flood of fad diets that hit every year, and discovering real nutrition facts can be very difficult.
One surprising question that’s come up lately: Are oats good or bad for you?
Answer: Good. Very good. Especially if you’re eating the right kind.
Oats pack a powerful dose of both macronutrients (protein and fiber) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients). However, old-fashioned oats and steel cut oats are preferable to instant oats. Why is that?
Instant or quick oats have been processed so they cook faster. While this may seem convenient for someone with a busy lifestyle, quick oats have undesirable attributes. The processing that helps these oats cook quickly also causes our bodies to digest them faster, which leads to a sudden spike in blood sugar as the oats get digested all at once. This isn’t optimal. Old fashioned and steel cut oats break down slowly in our bodies, leading to a stable release of sugar that is better for sustaining energy.
Old fashioned oats are low in calories and high in fiber and protein. One-half cup provides 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein and only 150 calories. The combination of fiber and protein make oats a great choice for breakfast, helping to keep you full until it’s time to take a lunch break.
Oats have been shown to help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol in the bloodstream. The cholesterol-lowering benefit in oats is derived from its soluble fiber called beta glucan.
Oats are also rich in vitamin E, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, selenium, potassium, and numerous phytonutrients. The synergy of the nutrients in oats makes them an outstanding and formidable SuperFood.
Oatmeal Serving Suggestions
The nutrient richness of oats provides a good base for a healthy meal. Unfortunately, some people think they’re bland and dismiss them outright. This is a mistake. You can make a bowl of oatmeal into something really delicious with just a few tricks.
- Top them with ground flax, sunflower seeds or nuts
- Add fresh fruit like blueberries or strawberries
- Add dried fruits like raisins, cranberries or apricots (just make sure there’s no added sugar on the fruit)
- Drizzle with a little honey
- Pour a 1/2 cup of cold soy milk or almond milk over a hot bowl of oats. Vanilla-flavored milks are especially delicious, but be sure to check the sugar content first.
Want to try oats for an other-than-morning meal? Mixing ground oats with ground flax seed and water make a great dough for gluten-free pizza crust.