The health benefits of oatmeal include a healthy heart, cholesterol control, blood sugar control, hypertension, weight loss, and constipation treatment. It also helps in skin care, cancer prevention, and immunity boosting.
What is Oatmeal?
Oatmeal is prepared from oats, which is a type of cereal grain. Its botanical name is Avena sativa. Oatmeal is prepared by rolling, crushing, or grinding oats into a coarse powder. It can be prepared with water, milk or yogurt or it can be eaten in the form of oatmeal pancakes, muffins, and cookies. Oatcake or oat bread is also eaten for breakfast or dinner, while Oats are also used in the preparation of beverages. Oatmeal is popular today because of its numerous health benefits. According to a recent study, instant oatmeal can help you feel full longer than equal calories of ready-to-eat oat cereal.
Oats have been known to man since the Bronze Age. Oats grow in the cooler and moister regions of the temperate zones. They have a lower summer heat requirement and greater tolerance of rain compared to other cereals such as wheat and barley. That’s why they are extensively grown in Europe and in North America. Oats were mass-grown from the 18th and 19th centuries and are particularly popular in Scotland, where historians have recorded many instances of oats being a part of the Scottish culture. As oats were very cheap, easy to grow, and process, people started consuming them as cereal.
Nutritional Value of Oatmeal
Oatmeal is prepared with the hulled oat grains. 100 g of oats contain energy (380 calories), protein (13 g), fat (6.5 g), carbohydrate (67 g), dietary fiber (10 g) and low content of sugar (1 g). There are many minerals and vitamins found in oats. Some of these include calcium (52 mg), iron (4 mg), magnesium (177 mg), phosphorus (523 mg), potassium (429 mg), sodium (2 mg), zinc (4 mg), thiamin (0.4 mg), riboflavin (0.1 mg), niacin (1.1 mg), vitamin B6 (0.1 mg), and folate (56mcg). Also, oats contain zero cholesterol.
Is oatmeal gluten-free?
Oats and oatmeal are gluten-free. Although the same cannot be said about the processed one that we eat. This is because while growing (sometimes, oats are grown on the same fields as barley and rye) and packaging oats can get cross-contaminated from various sources, thus leaving trace amounts of gluten. So, for those suffering from the celiac disease or gluten intolerance, it is advisable to check the label before consuming it.
Health Benefits of Oatmeal
Including oatmeal in your diet provides a wide variety of health benefits. Let us discuss these benefits.
Heart Health & Cholesterol Levels
Consumption of oats and oat-based products will help prevent cardiovascular diseases. Oatmeal has also been highly recommended by the AHA (American Heart Association). According to a research conducted by Horn et al at the North Western University of Medical School in Chicago have found that oatmeal acted as a great component of a fat-modified diet and helped in reducing the serum cholesterol level, including both HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) in the body.
A study on diabetic patients at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, showed that oatmeal consumption decreased the blood sugar level significantly in type 2 diabetics. Blood sugar levels decreased gradually because a high fiber diet and complex carbohydrates took a longer time to digest than simple carbohydrates. This helps in maintaining optimum blood sugar levels. In the study, an oatmeal diet was given to patients in replacement of other cereals.
Oatmeal is a good source of dietary fiber, which makes it ideal to overcome constipation by stimulating the digestive process and moving food smoothly through the intestinal tract.
Oatmeal is highly recommended for people who want to lose weight without going on any crash diets. Oatmeal contains high amounts of dietary fiber, nutrients, low calories and a small amount of fat, which makes it the best food for weight loss.
Unsalted oatmeal has been prescribed as one of the foods to be used to treat hypertension. Usually, the diet prescribed for hypertension is known as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Research showed that regular oatmeal consumption helped in reducing the risk of high blood pressure.
Research studies suggest that consuming high-fiber food is good for preventing and fighting colorectal cancer. This study also suggests that inflammation played a significant role in the development of cancer and oatmeal, with its high dietary fiber content, was found to have anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting compounds with minimal side effects.
Adding oatmeal to a child’s diet early on in their life can reduce the risk of asthma. It also helps in preventing the onset of other allergic conditions among children.
Oats can be a good source of antioxidants, with polyphenolic compounds and most importantly a unique group of compounds called avenanthramides. There is also vitamin E (tocols), phytic acid, flavonoids, and sterols in oats. The concentration of these antioxidants is on the outer layer of oats and help the body fight free radicals.
Oats can be a good source of antioxidants, with polyphenolic compounds and most importantly a unique group of compounds called avenanthramides. There is also vitamin E (tocols), phytic acid, flavonoids, and sterols in oats. The concentration of these antioxidants is on the outer layer of oats and it helps the body fight free radicals.
Oats can also be used as remedies for various skin diseases. They can be applied to the skin to reduce the symptoms as well as the actual diseases. Some of the diseases which can be controlled with a local application of oats include acne, dermatitis, chicken pox, and stress rashes.
Oatmeal is beneficial in preventing heart diseases, especially amongst post-menopausal women. As the years progress, the risk of several diseases such as heart disease and stroke increases. In a research study published in the American Heart Journal, it was found that regular intake of oats by post-menopausal women with heart ailments, decreased their risk of heart disease and stroke.
Rich in Beta-Glucan
Oats are rich in a soluble fiber, called beta-glucan, which helps in reducing the LDL, blood sugar, and insulin levels in the body. This also promotes digestion by increasing the production of good bacteria in the gut and also promotes the feeling of fullness.
Moderate Gluten Levels
Studies have shown that oatmeal can also be consumed by those with the celiac disease, as it only contains very limited quantities of gluten. Moderation would be advised though
Improved Immune System
Vitamins found in oatmeal include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K. These nutrients are essential in building up the strength of the immune system. Vitamin E is helpful in breaking down complex lipid compounds into simpler compounds. Vitamin K acts as a blood coagulant, helps in maintaining bone health, and is known to be effective in fighting diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Oatmeal is also a good source of vitamins such as pantothenic acid and choline, which also improve the immune system.
With such benefits, it is advised to include oatmeal in your diet as a powerful way to improve your health and lifestyle.
How to Select & Store Oats?
Choosing the right type of oats can be the tricky part because there are various kinds of oats available on the market, such as steel cut oats, old-fashioned oats, quick-cooking oats, and instant oats.
- Steel Cut Oats and Rolled Oats: These are described as one of the best oats that can be bought. The reason being, steel cut oats are whole grain and they possess vital nutrients such as B complex vitamins, protein, calcium, and fiber. These are also low in sodium and fats. Steel cut oats and rolled oats are more or less close to their natural form and are therefore very healthy.
- Processed Oats: Opting for highly processed oats may not be a good idea because processing involves adding preservatives and salt, which counteracts one of the major objectives of eating oats in the first place.
- Instant Oats: Another consideration is the time that you are willing to spend in cooking your oats. Semi-processed oats take only about 10 to 15 minutes to cook, whereas unprocessed oats might take 20 to 30 minutes to cook.
Quick Serving Ideas
Oatmeal can be prepared in a number of ways that you can do quite easily at home.
- The simplest way to make an oatmeal involves adding oats to boiled water and adding a pinch of salt to it.Boiled oats can be combined with protein powders and honey to make breakfast a bit more interesting.
- You can also add nuts and dried fruits to boiled oats. This is healthy as well as tasty.
- Add oats to hot milk, in a similar way to eating corn flakes. You can also add fruits like banana and apples, nuts, and dried fruits.
Other oatmeal ideas include banana oat smoothie, oat and strawberry fondant, oat cookies and biscuits, and more!
So what are you waiting for!? Go and dig into this savory and healthy dish!