Health benefits of oats are well known. Eating a bowl of oatmeal each morning is the second perfect way to start your day off right.
I say second, because, I believe a green smoothie is the first! Of course, you can combine a green smoothie with oats, such as this lime-oats-greens smoothie, for a total winner in the breakfast department.
This inexpensive grain can be a great ally in weight loss and disease prevention. It’s very versatile and can be used in cereals, cakes, oatmeal cookies, pancakes, etc. It helps fill you up, without loading you with too much fat and calories. So, let’s look at some health benefits of this simple food.
Health Benefits of Oatmeal
1. Oats are ideal for weight-loss: low in calories, full of fiber, help stop cravings.
As long as you don’t add too much fat and sugar, it is an ideal low-calorie breakfast or snack (raw nuts and seeds, and some fresh or dried fruits is fine, but it will increase the caloric content). It also stays in your stomach longer than most other breakfast foods, so you don’t feel hungry longer. This helps prevent cravings. If you struggle with feelings of hunger when dieting, a breakfast of oatmeal (or oatmeal smoothie) may be just the ticket, since it is more likely to keep you full until lunchtime than many other breakfast foods.
2. Contains high levels of fiber, low levels of fat, and high levels of protein.
Oats are a good source of many nutrients including vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium. Oats are also a good source of protein. In fact, it’s on the short list for the highest protein levels of any grain.
Oatmeal Nutrition Facts – source: nutritiondata.self.com
3. Helps stabilize blood sugar, thus lowering risk of diabetes (type 2)
Soluble fiber slows down the digestion of starch. This may be beneficial to diabetics because, when you slow down the digestion of starch, you avoid the sharp rises in your blood sugar level that usually occur following a meal. The high fiber and complex carbohydrates slow down the conversion of this whole food to simple sugars. The high levels of magnesium nourish the body’s proper use of glucose and insulin secretion.
4. Lowers bad cholesterol levels (without affecting your good cholesterol).
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, called beta-glucan, which attaches to cholesterol-containing bile acids as it moves through the body, causing your body to absorb less cholesterol.
5. Non allergenic, mostly gluten-free.
More and more people are discovering that they are sensitive to gluten. If you are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease you may be still able to eat oats. Oats lack many of the proteins found in wheat (gluten). Oats can also contain gluten from nearby wheat field contamination and processing facilities. Many studies have shown that many celiacs can consume wheat free oats with no problems.
6. Helps protect against heart disease and cancer.
Studies have shown that oatmeal, like many whole grains, contains plant lignans, which are converted by intestinal flora into mammalian lignans. One lignan, called enterolactone, is thought to protect against breast and other hormone-dependent cancers as well as heart disease.
7. Beneficial for heart disease; protects against heart failure.
A Harvard study on 21,000 participants over 19 years showed that found that men who enjoyed a daily morning bowl of whole grain (unrefined) cereal had a 29 percent lower risk of heart failure.
8. It’s easy to prepare and tastes delicious!
Whether instant, cooked on the stove or baked in the oven, the combination of flavors you can fit into a serving of oatmeal is limited only by the imagination. All oats whether in flakes or groats have rich nutty flavor. They are delicious when eaten with dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
9. It’s inexpensive and you probably already have oats in your kitchen
It’s estimated that eighty percent of U.S. households currently have oats in their cupboards.
All these health benefits are actually for oats. However, most people don’t think about oats – they think about oatmeal. In fact most people would probably not be able to identify oats, even if they were right in front of them.
There are many different levels of processing of oatmeal. Generally the larger the “flake” – as in rolled oats or the bigger the seed or groat – as in steel cut oats – the less processed it will be, the more nutrients it retains and the slower it will be to digest. It will also be slower to cook though.
I like to use the quick-one-minute rolled oats for a quick, no-cooking-required healthy breakfast. I soak them in almond or soy milk, and toss in some dried fruit, nuts and seeds for even more nutritional benefits.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
If you have a favorite recipe, why not submit it here in the comment section of this smoothie recipes blog for others to enjoy too!
I also welcome any comments, questions and suggestions. Thanks!