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 really difficult.
One surprising question that’s come up lately: Are oats good or bad for you?
Answer: Good. Real good. Especially if you’re eating the right kind.
Oats pack a powerful dose of both macronutrients (protein and fiber) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Old-fashioned oats and steel cut oats are preferable to instant oats. Why is that?
Instant or quick oats have been processed so that 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 oats are broken down slower by our bodies, leading to a stable release of sugar that is better for sustaining energy.
Old fashioned oats help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood stream, and they are a naturally low-fat food. The cholesterol-lowering benefit in oats is derived from their soluble fiber; one cup of cooked oats contains four grams of fiber. Oats also contain a substantial amount of protein; one cup cooked boasts 5 grams. 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.
One cup of cooked oats also contains 20% of the daily recommended values of magnesium and selenium. Oats are also rich in iron, zinc, and phosphorous.
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 raisons, 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 flax and water makes a great dough for gluten-free pizza crust.