Are you trying to improve your diet? Good news! You can not go wrong with this superfood – oats. Oats are delicious, nourishing, and affordable. The nutrients present in oats support day-to-day living activities, protect our cells from environmental damage, and support body processes.
Let’s understand oats in detail and how they can benefit us in the long run.
What are Oats and Oatmeal?
Oats belong to the family of cereals and are whole grains. Oats have recently received significant attention for their excellent nutrient profile and health benefits.
They are used in many food products like breakfast cereals, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, etc., to inspire people to consume these health-boosting grains.
Oats porridge is also referred to as oatmeal, in which oats are cooked with water or milk and preferably eaten at breakfast.
Oats Nutrition: Nutritional Value of Oats
Oats are rich in valuable nutrients such as proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, and dietary fiber. They also contain micronutrients such as vitamin E, folate, zinc, iron, selenium, copper, manganese, and choline.
Oats’ nutritional value per 100 g, as per ICMR –
- Calories: 374 kcal
- Proteins: 13.6 g
- Fats: 7.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 62.8 g
- Dietary Fiber: 11 g
- Calcium: 50 mg
- Iron: 3.8 mg
- Phosphorus: 380 mg
- Folic Acid: 34 mcg
Types of Oats
These are the different forms in which oats are available.
- Instant Oats: These instant cooking oats are pre-cooked, dried, and pressed to form thin flakes. Instant oats usually take a minute or two to cook and have a mushy texture. You can add the additional ingredients of your choice, like fruits and nuts, and you are all set.
- Rolled Oats: Rolled oats, also called old-fashioned oats, are formed when oat groats are steamed and flattened into ﬂakes. This process stabilizes the oats’ healthy oils, keeping them fresh for longer and reducing cooking time.
- Steel-Cut Oats: This type of oats is made by cutting oats groats into pieces with a heavy steel blade. They have a coarse and nutty texture and, comparatively, take a longer time to cook.
The Best Form of Oats
Various types of oats differ in their way of processing and nutritional value. Rolled and steel-cut oats are healthier and offer similar health benefits.
But one needs to be careful with instant oats as they may contain high salt or sugar content, low dietary fiber, and no significant nutritional value.
Reading the nutrition facts carefully before opting for instant oats is essential.
Health Benefits of Eating Oats Everyday
Oats for weight loss
Oatmeal may help you lose weight as it is very filling. Oats are packed with a powerful soluble fiber called beta-glucans. This dietary fiber provides fullness by delaying stomach emptying.
It also promotes the release of peptide YY, a satiety hormone. This dual effect reduces overall calorie intake and prevents obesity risk.
A study1 conducted in 2016 found oat intake significantly reduced weight and kept blood sugar levels in control.
Another clinical trial2 found that oat consumption reduced body weight, BMI, body fat, and the waist-to-hip ratio among overweight individuals.
Oats for weight gain
Oats are equally beneficial for weight gain and a healthy way to increase calorie intake. To further make it nutrient and calorie-dense, you can top it up with fruits, dried fruits, honey, dates, seeds, nuts, and nut butter.
Oats for cholesterol
Due to their high soluble fiber content, oats can help lower cholesterol levels. Beta-glucans prevent the oxidation of harmful LDL cholesterol and its circulation in the blood, thus reducing the threat of coronary artery disease and heart attack.
To examine the same, study3 was conducted on 69 Asian Indians having high cholesterol levels and concluded that a daily intake of 3 grams of soluble fiber from 70 grams of oats had beneficial effects on the total cholesterol and LDL levels.
Oats for diabetes
Oats are a boon for people with diabetes as well. They promote healthy blood sugar levels by improving insulin response and lowering HbA1c levels5 .
Oats for bodybuilding
If you are a fitness enthusiast, then you must consider including this health-boosting food in your diet. Oats primarily contain carbs in complex forms. Since they are slow-digesting hence provide energy for a longer duration.
In addition, oats are also rich in other critical nutrients needed for new muscle growth and bodybuilding, like protein, iron, magnesium, and healthy fats.
If you are into bulk bodybuilding, you can combine oats with other calorie-rich foods like honey, nuts, peanut butter, banana, and dried fruits.
Oats for digestion
Inadequate dietary fiber intake can result in indigestion issues like gas formation, bloating, and constipation. Include oats in your daily diet for healthy bowel health.
A clinical trial found a 59% reduction in the use of laxatives among seniors on taking oat fiber regularly for 12 weeks6 .
Oats for babies
Oats are a good food option for babies as they are packed with minerals, vitamins, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. They support digestion, and statistics say that oat allergy is least prevalent among children. However, it is better to confer with a pediatrician before introducing oats as a weaning food.
Oats for immunity
Whole oats are high in a unique group of antioxidants called avenanthramides. These beneficial plant compounds also possess anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-itching properties. In addition, oats’ high zinc and selenium content help boost our infection-fighting ability.
Oats for skin
This is exciting that grounded oats are used in various skin products, especially for skin irritation and itching. It works as an exfoliant, removing dirt and dead skin cells.
Oats during pregnancy
Thanks to their impressive nutritional profile and health-benefiting traits, pregnant women can easily consume oats. Oats contain many vital nutrients essential for women in the prenatal stage.
Popular Oat Products
With increasing health awareness and people shifting to healthy food products, oats have become a popular ingredient in commonly eaten foods.
- Oat Biscuits & Cookies
A healthy replacement for refined or maida-based tea-time snacks. But it is essential to check the fat and sugar content before picking them.
- Oat Flour
Excellent for people avoiding gluten-containing flour or refined flour.
- Oat Milk
Plant-based milk suitable for vegans and lactose intolerants.
- Oats Noodles
Though they are an excellent substitute for regular noodles, the oat percentage is not that high in oat noodles.
- Oats in Breakfast Cereals
A superb option to start your day with energy-dense and protein-packed oatmeal.
- Oat Bran
It is the outermost layer of an oat groat and is versatile to use. One can have it as a breakfast cereal or add it to smoothies, shakes, yogurts, and bread dough.
How to Select and Store Oats for the Best Taste & Quality?
The selection of oats depends on your preference and taste. If you enjoy your oatmeal creamy and smooth or need something quick, instant oats are your game. If you prefer a nutty flavor with chewy consistency, try steel-cut oats.
One must store dry oats in a dry, dark, cool, and clean storage area in an airtight container to prevent infestation and increase the shelf life.
Cooked oatmeal can last for three to five days. However, one must ensure that it is completely cool before being kept in a refrigerator.
Appearance, foul smell, and change in taste and color are reliable ways to determine whether or not the oats have expired and gone bad.
Best Oatmeal Recipes
- Overnight Oats
- Porridge Oats
- Oats Chilla
- Oats Dosa
- Oats Upma
- Oats Idli
- Oats Smoothie
- Oats Khichdi
- Oats Pongal
Side-effects of Oats
Although it is uncommon, overconsumption of oats can result in gastric swelling, flatulence, and abdominal cramps. It is commonly seen among people who suddenly introduce excessive fiber to their no or low-fiber diets.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Are oats gluten-free?
Oats are gluten-free and are safe for people with gluten intolerance. However, they may get contaminated with gluten if processed in a facility containing foods like wheat, rye, triticale, and barley. Therefore, it is advisable to read the warnings and disclaimers carefully if you are sensitive to gluten.
2. Is it good to eat oats every day?
One can easily include oatmeal in the daily diet considering all the health benefits associated with oats. However, the portion size must be as per the nutrition needs.
3. Do oats make you gain weight?
Oats can help with your weight-related goals. You can combine oats with calorie-rich nutritious foods like nut butter, dried fruits, honey, nuts, dates, and seeds if you wish to gain weight.
4. How much oats should I eat in a day?
One can consume around 50 grams of oats in a single meal.
5. What happens when you eat oatmeal every day for a month?
One can expect several health benefits from oats when consumed regularly for a month, like healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. However, the weight will vary depending upon the form they are taken.
6. What are oats exactly, and what should you know about their history?
Oats (Avena sativa) are small, oval-shaped, and cream-coloured grains.
The popularity of oats grew when Romans introduced them to Scotland, where they flourished. Oats gained acceptance in America in the 17th century and were used primarily as animal feed. Today, Europe leads in oat production.
7. Who should avoid oats?
People who are allergic or intolerant to oats must avoid them. Although they are gluten-free, if you are gluten intolerant or sensitive or suffer from celiac disease, it is advisable to read the warnings carefully as oats may be contaminated with wheat, barley, rye, and triticale.
8. What is the healthiest way to eat oatmeal?
One can enjoy oats in many ways like oats porridge, vegetable oats, oats upma, oats idli, or add them to shakes, smoothies, etc.
9. Are oats an anti-inflammatory food?
Oats possess anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of avenanthramide. Studies suggest that daily consumption of oats porridge for four weeks can suppress inflammatory markers while increasing antioxidant levels9 .
10. Is Quaker instant oatmeal healthy?
Quaker instant oatmeal is made with 100% whole grain oats. It is a perfect meal to begin your day without artificial preservatives, sweeteners, or colours.
11. Which brand of oats is the best?
These days the market is flooded with various oats brands providing good-quality oats in multiple forms, flavors, and varieties. One can choose from any depending upon the preference and taste.
It is advisable to read the nutrition facts carefully before you buy oats. Check the ingredient list, sugar content, and additives used.
12. How to prepare oatmeal?
Oatmeal is healthy, easy, and quick to prepare. Take one cup of water or milk, and bring it to a boil. Then slow down the flame, add oats, and allow them to cook until they thicken. You can add honey, dates, raisins, fresh fruits, maple syrup, or peanut butter for sweetness.
13. What are the disadvantages of eating oats?
One must avoid taking large portions of oats at a time as it may consequence in abdominal discomfort and indigestion issues. People with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or sensitivity must opt for gluten-free oats.
14. Can oats make you fat?
Oats can not cause fat accumulation if consumed per daily dietary needs. Oats are packed with complex carbohydrates, and excess intake of more than the required can increase calorie load.
15. Can you eat instant oats raw?
Eating raw oats is generally safe. Many processed varieties of oats are pre-steamed and heated to destroy potentially harmful pathogens, making them safe to eat raw. However, some people might experience difficulty in digesting raw oats. Moreover, cooking helps release nutrients that our body can’t extract from raw oats.
- Li, X., Cai, X., Ma, X., Jing, L., Gu, J., Bao, L., Li, J., Xu, M., Zhang, Z., & Li, Y. (2016). Short- and Long-Term Effects of Wholegrain Oat Intake on Weight Management and Glucolipid Metabolism in Overweight Type-2 Diabetics: A Randomized Control Trial. Nutrients, 8(9), 549. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8090549
- Chang, H. C., Huang, C. N., Yeh, D. M., Wang, S. J., Peng, C. H., & Wang, C. J. (2013). Oat Prevents Obesity and Abdominal Fat Distribution, and Improves Liver Function in Humans. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 68(1), 18–23. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11130-013-0336-2
- Gulati, S., Misra, A., & Pandey, R. M. (2017). Effects of 3 g of soluble fiber from oats on lipid levels of Asian Indians – a randomized controlled, parallel arm study. Lipids in Health and Disease, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12944-017-0460-3
- Joyce, S. A., Kamil, A., Fleige, L., & Gahan, C. G. M. (2019). The Cholesterol-Lowering Effect of Oats and Oat Beta Glucan: Modes of Action and Potential Role of Bile Acids and the Microbiome. Frontiers in Nutrition, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2019.00171
- Delgado, G., Kleber, M. E., Krämer, B. K., Morcos, M., Humpert, P. M., Wiegand, K., Mauldin, A., Kusterer, K., Enghöfer, M., März, W., Segiet, T., & Lammert, A. (2018). Dietary Intervention with Oatmeal in Patients with uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus – A Crossover Study. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, 127(09), 623–629. https://doi.org/10.1055/a-0677-6068
- Sturtzel, B., Mikulits, C., Gisinger, C., & Elmadfa, I. (2009). Use of fiber instead of laxative treatment in a geriatric hospital to improve the wellbeing of seniors. The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, 13(2), 136–139. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-009-0020-2
- Thies, F., Masson, L. F., Boffetta, P., & Kris-Etherton, P. (2014). Oats and bowel disease: a systematic literature review. British Journal of Nutrition, 112(S2), S31–S43. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0007114514002293
- Chen, O., Mah, E., Dioum, E., Marwaha, A., Shanmugam, S., Malleshi, N., Sudha, V., Gayathri, R., Unnikrishnan, R., Anjana, R. M., Krishnaswamy, K., Mohan, V., & Chu, Y. (2021). The Role of Oat Nutrients in the Immune System: A Narrative Review. Nutrients, 13(4), 1048. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13041048
- Patcharanee P., Akkarach B., Yashna H., Anne K. (2019). Oats porridge consumption alleviates markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in hypercholesterolemic adults. 10.6133/apjcn.201906_28(2).0008