Health Benefits of Oats

Many health benefits of oats

Samuel Johnson defines oats as “a grain used in England to feed horses and in Scotland to feed the populace.” Oats in many forms have long been a mainstay for a healthy breakfast. Here is a detailed look at the health benefits of oats so that you can make the best choice for your nutrition.

Whole food versions

Oat groats look somewhat like plump pieces of tan rice. The health benefits of oats that are oat groats are that they are not processed at all other than the removal of the outside hull. They can be very tough and require soaking and a long cooking time. Once cooked they are delicious and are often included in stuffings or as breakfast porridge.

Steel cut, also known as Irish oats, are oat groats that have been sliced into very thin pieces. They are not rolled flat like other oat products. They look more like little pieces of toothpicks. They contain many health benefits of oats including more fiber and require more chewing than processed oats. They are delicious and have a lower glycemic index than processed oats. When a food has a higher glycemic index, it means that it turns into blood sugar more quickly in your body.

Processed versions

oatmealAs with most processed foods some of the health benefits of oats are lost with these kinds.

Old Fashioned Oats are groats that have been steamed and then rolled flat. They could just be called “flattened groats,” but we know them as old fashioned oats. The steaming process leaches some minerals and liquid from the groats; thus making them a little higher on the glycemic index than steel cut oats.

Quick oats are steamed, sliced thin on the bias, and rolled flat. You can think of quick oats and “oat flakes.” The more processed they are, the higher the glycemic load.

Instant oats and instant oatmeal are partially cooked or steamed groats that are then cut very thin and dried. Because they are already a little bit cooked they take less time to cook in your own kitchen. Usually these products have added sugar, salt, and/or dried fruit bits. Instant oatmeal also has a higher glycemic index, than all other forms of oats and has the least health benefits of oats.

Overnight Baked Oatmeal

2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned oats)
1 cup whole milk, milk alternative, or water
1/4 – 1/3 cup sucanat or coconut palm sugar (both can be found online)
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or organic butter
2 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
In a mixing bowl, combine the oats and milk/chosen liquid. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Pour into a greased 8 inch baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Recipe adapted from http://www.stacymakescents.com/baked-oatmeal-revised

***Add-ins: raisins, chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter, pureed fruit, chopped fresh fruit, etc.***

Learn more about the health benefits of oats from Dr. Bill Sears.

Sources:

  1. http://www.samueljohnson.com/popular.html
  2. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400705/Why-Steel-Cut-Oatmeal.html
  3. www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/expert.q.a/06/26/oatmeal.benefits.reheating.jampolis/
  4. http://www.oatsandhealth.org/composition-oats-and-health-27
  5. www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=54

Carly Neubert, BA, NC is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Dr. Sears Health Coach, and First Line Therapy Coach. She lives on the gorgeous Central Coast of California with her husband and dog. She has a decade of experience in the natural health industry including attending Hawthorn University. Her devotion to nutrition comes from her own journey to manage anxiety, fatigue, depression and digestive issues. Her mantra is “food is information” —let your body know how you want it to perform by giving it good information in the form of high quality nourishing foods. Aside from community education classes, Carly has a clinical practice at Nest Integrative Medicine Spa in Santa Barbara, CA. You can learn more about her at www.healthyhabitsliving.com or www.nestspasb.com or follow her on Facebook at Healthy Habits Living.