Oats are one of the healthiest grains out there, thanks to being high in soluble fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
You may not think of the lowly oat as a powerful force for good. But it packs a lot of punch when it comes to health benefits, with antioxidants, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Oats are also high in fiber, specifically a soluble fiber called beta glucan, which has been shown time and again to do the body a whole lot of good.
"The fiber content of oatmeal is filling and satiating, which … can help with eating fewer calories throughout the day and managing your weight," registered dietician Maggie Michalczyk told Eat Well.
We’ll go into all the health benefits in a minute, but to start, let’s break down this superfood. What exactly are oats?
Common types of oats
Oats are a gluten-free whole grain, most commonly mixed with water or milk to make oatmeal. They’re also found in many baked goods, like granola bars, muffins, and cookies.
There are a few different types of oats that can be found on the shelves of your standard grocery store.
- Steel-cut oats have been chopped into smaller pieces from the whole oat groat, or kernel. Of the three varieties, they are the least processed and take the longest to cook.
- Rolled oats come from oat groats that have been dehusked, steamed, and then rolled into flakes and lightly toasted.
- Quick oats are pressed thinner and cut even smaller than rolled oats, making them the quickest to prepare.
All three varieties have similar nutritional content. Steel-cut oats have a chewier consistency than rolled or quick oats.
Like quick oats, instant oats are fast cooking. Instant oats are usually prepackaged in individual servings and are made for microwave preparation. They may also contain sugars, salt, and other ingredients.
Oats for your health
Oats are great for your heart, blood sugar, digestion, and more. Read on to learn how this little grain can give your health a big boost.
Oats can reduce bad cholesterol
Research has shown the soluble fiber in oats can help reduce LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad one) if eaten regularly. That in turn can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Oats can regulate blood sugar levels
Eating foods with soluble fiber has been shown to help reduce blood sugar spikes, and oats can be especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.
Oats may promote weight loss
Oats make you feel full longer (thanks again to that soluble fiber beta glucan). Studies have shown that this helps to curb grazing between meals and binging on unhealthy foods. Oats can be a smart breakfast choice if you’re looking to shed some pounds.
Oats can help with constipation
Oats may help relieve constipation thanks (again!) to all that fiber and its ability to keep things moving. Research shows that older adults might especially benefit from this.
Oats might help you sleep
Oats are a common breakfast food, but you might want to try eating them before bed. The grain is a good natural source of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Ready to work some of this superfood into your diet? Try this oatmeal muffin recipe from AllRecipes.com.
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup quick cooking oats
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease 12 standard muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
- Combine milk and oats in a small bowl; let soak for 15 minutes.
- Beat together egg and oil in a large bowl; stir in oat mixture. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients until just combined. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups until 2/3 full.
- Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
Do you have Medicare questions? We have answers.
When it comes to Medicare, one plan definitely does not fit all. At ClearMatch, it’s our mission to match you to the policy that best serves your unique needs. It’s all we do, and we do it better than anyone. Check out our extensive library of articles for answers to your Medicare questions. Or, compare plans in your area to get started finding the policy that’s right for you.
- ClearMatch Medicare: Find a Medicare Plan
- EatingWell: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Oatmeal Every Day?
- National Library of Medicine: Effect of Oat Supplementation on Cardiovascular Disease Risk
- National Library of Medicine: The prevention and control the type-2 diabetes by changing lifestyle and dietary pattern
- National Library of Medicine: Short- and Long-Term Effects of Wholegrain Oat Intake on Weight Management
- National Library of Medicine: The status of vitamins B6, B12, folate, and of homocysteine in geriatric home residents receiving laxatives or dietary fiber
- National Library of Medicine: Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin