Oats are a superfood with tons of great health benefits!
Health Benefits of Oats
Oats are so healthy because they are a whole grain that is high in soluble fiber and antioxidants. Just a few of their health benefits include:
- Eating unprocessed forms of oats does not result in the blood sugar spikes seen after eating refined flours (Source)
- Oats can help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (Source)
- Foods high in soluble fiber, such as oats, can help lower cholesterol (Source)
- Oats are high in selenium, an antioxidant (Source)
- A 2008 study found that if women ever used hormone replacement therapy, they had a 50% reduction in their subsequent risk of breast cancer if they consumed high doses of fiber (Source)
- A review found that oats could reduce the risk of heart disease by 15% due to its ability to help maintain healthy levels of cholesterol (Source)
- Soluble fiber in oats (beta-glucan) help maintain healthy cholesterol levels (Source) and healthy cholesterol levels help liver function (Source)
- The soluble fiber in oats helps maintain healthy insulin levels (Source) which is desirable for diabetics
There are many oat products available these days, from unhealthy granola bars to oat groats. Although oats are healthy, different parts of the oat kernel have different health benefits.
Processing of Oats
When oats are picked, they undergo multiple steps of processing before reaching the often consumed quick oats. You can purchase oats from each of the different stages of processing. Below, each stage of the processing is explained, as well as how to use each form of oats.
Oat groats are the unflattened kernels of oat. They are produced by removing the inedible outer husk of the oat. The remnaint is high in fiber and contains the germ, the grain and the endosperm. They are not processed much so they retain much nutritional value. However, because they have undergone minimal processing, oat groats take a long time to cook. Oat groats are chewy and are great for making porridges or stuffing.
Steel Cut Oats
Steel cut oats are also called Scottish oats and are made by cutting oat groats into two or three pieces. This step allows steel cut oats to cook faster than oat groats. They still take a long time to cook and can be easily made overnight in a crock pot.
Oh She Glows has some of my favorite oatmeal recipes. Below is a link to some of her most gorgeous steel cut oat recipes.
Old Fashioned Oats
Old fashioned oats are oat groats that have been steamed and then rolled.
As they have been slightly processed, they have a slightly higher glycemic index than steel cut oats. The glycemic index will be addressed in a later post. A higher glycemic index means that old fashioned oats break down into sugar in our bodies faster than steel cut oats. This results in a greater spike in blood sugar seen after eating old fashioned oats than after eating steel cut oats.
Instant oatmeal, such as those in packets from Quaker, have been precooked and dried before sugar and flavoring is added. It is best to stay away from these highly processed oats.
There are so many recipes for old fashioned oats. Below is a great collection of recipes and ideas.
This one is her pumpkin pie oatmeal…yum!
Oat bran is the outer layer of grain. The bran is found in rolled oats and steel cut oats, but it can be purchased separately. It has the consistency of flour and can be used in muffins or baked goods.
Other uses for Oatmeal
Oatmeal makes great face masks and soaps!
Follow this recipe for an easy and refreshing face mask with oatmeal.
What is your favorite way to eat oatmeal? Have you had all the different forms of oat?