If you’ve ever scanned the grocery cereal section, you’ll see loads of options from sugar loaded sweet cereal to cook and serve cereal, like oatmeal. While there are all types of oatmeal available, they all have some health benefits, based on the amount of processing. However, some highly processed oatmeal with added sugar have negatives that may outweigh the benefits. If you want to improve your health you should eat more oatmeal that’s closer to its natural form.
All oat groats are processed.
I love the term oat groats, it’s just plain fun to say. It’s the name for the whole oat, before processing. Even though you hear that processing is bad, oat groats have to be processed in some form to use. Steel cut—Irish oats—are the least processed. They’re nothing more than the whole oat groats cut into small pieces. It has the most soluble fiber that fills you up, but can’t be processed by the body, so it won’t fill you out. Scottish oats are next in line. They’re similar to Irish oats, but instead of being cut, they’re ground and have a smoother texture. Rolled oats, the kind you normally see on the shelf, are steamed first then rolled to flatten. They’re higher on the Glycemic Index—GI—because they digest faster. Quick oats are steamed higher and rolled thinner, making them higher on the GI. Instant oats are processed even more, higher on the GI and contain ingredients that will pack on the pounds.
The best way to eat oat groats is Irish or Scottish oats, with rolled oats slightly behind for weight loss and controlling blood sugar levels.
Steel cut oats—Irish oats—are the best form to buy, with Scottish oats a close second. However, if saving money is just as important, rolled oats are a good substitute. One of the benefits of eating oats is its ability to help control blood sugar. The insoluble fiber, beta-glucan, forms a thick gel that lows the absorption and delays the glucose from entering the blood stream. The more processed forms have far less fiber and the instant oats may also contain higher amounts of sugar. As far as being a great benefit for weight loss, if you eat more instant oats than the rolled oats or better kind, you’ll probably pack on the pounds.
Keep you cholesterol levels in check and are rich in antioxidants.
It’s been known for some time that eating oatmeal can lower your cholesterol levels. Lowering those high cholesterol levels can protect your heart from damage, but only if it’s the LDL level–the bad cholesterol. The beta-glucan fiber does just that and lowers the total cholesterol in the process. Oatmeal also contains antioxidants to help prevent LDL oxidation that causes inflammation and damages tissues, which increases the risk for both strokes and heart attacks.
- Whole oats contain avenanthramides, which are exclusive to oats. Avenanthramides can increase nitric oxide levels and lower blood pressure. Higher nitric oxide levels also boost your mitochondria.
- Oatmeal boosts your nutrition. Just a half a cup of dry oats contains 191% RDI for Manganese, 41% for Phosphorus, 34% Magnesium, 24% for Copper, 20% for Iron, 20% of Zinc, 39% of thiamin RDI, 10% of pantothenic acid, 11% of Folate and trace amounts of B6, B3, Calcium and potassium.
- It may take a little longer to cook, but the benefits from steel cut, Scottish and rolled oats are worth the effort, especially when you’re trying to lose weight.