What's all the fuss about oats?
With potential health benefits, being nutrient dense, cheap and delicious what is there not to love?
We are a big fan of oats at The Dietary Edit here are a few reasons why.
Oats are a cereal grain and are a relatively cheap cupboard staple. Consuming oat grain can bring about certain positive health benefits as part of a healthy balanced diet. Low in saturated fat they may help in reducing the risk of heart disease or supporting a weight management plan. They can also help in the management of blood sugar level due to the high dietary fibre content. This versatile little wholegrain is jam packed full of rich nutrient goodness. They are a great source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and soluble fiber. Oats are also a great plant based source of protein.
Why is it important in our diet?
Dietary fibre can improve digestion, bulk out stools and prevent constipation. It is also good for satiety meaning oats make you feel fuller for longer. The feeling of fullness can mean you are less likely to snack between meals, therefore potentially aiding weight loss, as part of a healthy balanced diet.
Oats contain a fibre called beta glucan. There are certain health claims surrounding beta glucan fibre, such as reducing risk of coronary heart disease. Some cardiovascular disease studies show that they may have LDL cholesterol reducing properties but is still not fully understood how beta glucans help reduce blood cholesterol and more research is needed to fully understand the long term health benefits. Please seek medical advice if you are concerned about your cholesterol level.
Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
Oats are rich in calcium, iron and B vitamins (Thiamine (vitamin B1) and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)).
Calcium is important for keeping bones and teeth strong and healthy.
Iron is needed by the body for making red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. A lack of iron can lead to iron deficiency anemia which can cause symptoms such as fatigue and tiredness.
B vitamins are important for keeping the nervous system and skin healthy. They also help break down and release energy from food.
Ground oats (oatmeal) are not only eaten for breakfast but can also be found in certain skin care products thus proving oats are a versatile grain. Whole oats are high in antioxidants called avenanthramides. Studies have shown that these antioxidants have potential anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce skin inflammation and irritations.
Plant based milks are becoming increasingly popular and can be found on most supermarket shelves with oat milk being no exception. Oat milk is particularly popular due to being lactose, nut and soy free and is therefore a good option for people with intolerances or allergies, including children. Due to the straining process oats go through to make oat milk they are not as nutrient dense as whole oats. Oat milk is therefore often fortified with vitamins and calcium to improve the health benefits. Try to choose no added sugar options.
Are oats gluten-free?
Gluten is a protein that can be found in certain grains. Those wishing to avoid gluten must ensure oats or oat milk are certified as coming from a gluten free manufacturer. This is primarily due to the potential cross contamination from other gluten containing grains during processing. This is particularly important for those with coeliac disease, following a gluten free diet or those who have a gluten sensitivity.
Different types of oats
Steel cut oats - these are made from oat groats, minimally processed and therefore contain lots of the beta glucan fiber.
Oatmeal - this is the most processed form of they are usually milled ,dried and rolled very thin and require shorter cooking times
Oat flour - finely milled this can be used in baked goods such as bread, it is gluten free if certified.
Some ideas on how to increase your oat consumption
Simple Porridge Oats:
• (250 ml) of water or almond milk or cow's milk • Pinch of salt or sugar • Combine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. • Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the oats, stirring occasionally, until soft. • Add toppings to your cooked oats such as fresh or dried fruit, nuts or seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg or peanut butter for extra flavour.
This is a popular way to enjoy breakfast and a good way to increase your oat intake. Soak rolled oats overnight in dairy milk or a plant based milk of your choice.
There are lots of instant oat products (also know as quick oats or instant oatmeal) on the market enabling you to enjoy oats on the go, most just require hot water.
Further recipe ideas can be found here www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/overnight-oats
Not just for breakfast
✓ Toppings for crumbles
✓ Topping for bread
- heart health
- gluten free
- lower cholesterol
- Coeliac Disease
- gluten is a protein
- cardiovascular Disease
- cross contamination
- avoid gluten