By Emilyn Gil
I have vivid memories as a child at the breakfast table. I remember the absolute dread I felt every time my mom presented me with a bowl of steamy, gooey, oatmeal. The only way my mother could get us kids to spoon down the healthy, whole-grain meal was to cover it in a layer of sugar and rainbow sprinkles, completely corrupting its super-food integrity.
A survey done in 2008 by Decision Analyst showed that out of a list of 70 different foods, Americans believe that oatmeal is one of the top four most beneficial to your health. Another survey of members of the American society for Clinical Nutrition found that 97% of the nutritionists thought that oatmeal is healthy. And that’s not far from the truth! Oatmeal has quite a few healthy tricks up its sleeve. But despite the fact that we all know it, how many of us really make the effort to benefit from all that this gluten-free wholegrain has to offer? (1)
What Can Daily Oatmeal Do For You?
This breakfast-friendly grain has the nutritional power to make you not only feel good, but look good too. After learning the benefits you’ll be wishing you hadn’t slipped yours under the table for the dog all those years ago. That’s right, you know what you did.
Studies show that oatmeal can help with gastrointestinal problems, and is beneficial to the digestive system. Oatmeal also promotes satiety, or gives you a feeling of fullness. And when you feel full you give your body more time to digest. (2, 3)
Oatmeal is a perfect source for good calories and energy because it is a protein-rich carbohydrate. Oatmeal is also low glycemic, which means that it causes a slow rise in glycemic levels, allowing for more effective fat-burning.
3. Weight Loss
Oatmeal is beneficial for weight loss due to the compound known as beta-glucan. Beta-glucan increases cholecystokinin which is a hunger-fighting hormone that can help reduce your appetite. (4)
4. Blood Sugar And Diabetes
Oatmeal is very high in fiber, which causes the sugar to be released more slowly into the bloodstream. This means that oatmeal has a low glycemic index. Maintaining a low glycemic index has shown positive results in insulin levels, lipid profiles, and glycemic control, and can lower the risk of vascular complications in diabetes. (5)
5. Blood Pressure
Oatmeal is a soluble fiber and it contains calcium and potassium. All three of these factors are linked to good heart health and blood pressure reduction. Increased whole-grain intake, like oatmeal, is also associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease. (6)
Research shows that high oatmeal intake can decrease the risk of cancer. A Harvard study showed that 70 grams of whole grains, or one large helping of oatmeal, lowered the risk of dying from cancer by 20 percent, and the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 20 percent as well. (7)
Which Oatmeal Is Which?
Now that you’ve learned just a few of the countless benefits of oatmeal, chances are you’re ready to head to the store to start stocking up on this incredible super-food, right? And more likely than not you will be faced with multiple different brands and types of oats. So which one do you reach for?
The answer is, most oatmeal types will have similar benefits. (Whew!) However, there are a few things that you should watch out for.
To reduce chance of exposure to harmful chemicals such as conventional pesticides and herbicides, we always suggest buying organic when possible.
The most common types of oats that you will see are whole oat groats, steel-cut oats, rolled oats, and instant oats. The main difference between the four is the preparation time, texture, and flavor. So you may need to try all four before you find your personal favorite. Also keep in mind that instant oats will generally have less protein and fiber, so you will need to make sure to up the serving size to get the most benefits from this option.
Another thing you want to keep in mind when buying oatmeal is to check the nutrition facts. Lots of oatmeal brands are processed in a way that strips the oats of their natural nutritional value, and some also add artificial flavors and sweeteners. So take extra care to check the labels before you make your choice.
Make The Most Of Your Oats!
The best part about oats is that there are so many things you can do with them! Oatmeal is perhaps the most popular and simple option, but oats can also be used for granola bars, as a smoothie or yogurt topper, and as an added ingredient for cookies, bread, muffins, you name it. So if the kids (or even you) don’t like the generic flavor or texture of oatmeal, don’t be afraid to get creative and watch as those incredible benefits come your way!