Oat (Avena sativa) is a species of cereal grain grown for its seed, which has the same name. Consumed by humans as oatmeal made of hulled oats that have been milled, steel-cut, or rolled, oat is one of the healthiest grains because it contains carbohydrates, potassium, fiber, protein, vitamins A, B, C, D, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Even if you don’t eat oatmeal for breakfast, you’re probably having your fair share of oats in the muffins, granola bars, cookies, and other baked goods you eat. Breakfast with oat is the best way to start the day because this small grain has incredible benefits.
Oat is both gluten free and an excellent source of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. For all these reasons, oat can benefit the body in numerous ways.
Oat can help improve blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
A pilot study followed hypertensive men and women for 6 weeks. Half of them ate oat cereal and the others ate a lower ﬁber cereal. Results showed that the oat group enjoyed a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure (pressure that occurs when the heart is contracting) and a similar reduction in diastolic blood pressure (pressure that occurs in the arteries between beats), while the group eating wheat was unchanged. Another study suggested that a diet rich in oats can reduce the need for antihypertensive medications.
Oats also contain a powerful type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan that helps lower LDL cholesterol levels. Other studies revealed that beta-glucan can support carbohydrate metabolism and blood pressure levels in obese individuals.
The dietary fiber found in oats helps regulate blood sugar levels.
In a study conducted in Germany, patients with unmanaged type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance followed a diabetes-friendly diet that included oatmeal during a short hospital stay. Results showed that patients achieved a significant decrease in insulin dosage and maintained the reduction even after 4 weeks unsupervised at home.
According to another study, oat consumption has a beneficial effect on the glucose and lipid profiles of patients with type 2 diabetes. Beta-glucans in oats can also contribute to reducing blood sugar concentrations.
Immunity Booster and Cancer Preventative
The beta-glucan found in oatmeal can support the immune system. The majority of immune cells have special receptors designed to absorb beta-glucan, which has the ability to boost the activity of cells and protect against disease.
According to a study, beta-glucan can accelerate wound healing and make antibiotics more effective in humans. An experiment conducted on mice showed that this compound can strengthen immunity after the body has been taxed with exercise.
Beta-glucan also helps the body in the fight against a wide range of microbes like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. In fact, beta-glucan is used to improve immunity in individuals suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome or chronic stress, and it can also boost immunity during chemotherapy or radiation.
The antioxidants in oats can help fight cancer, and the fiber may help prevent rectal and colon cancers. Oats have anti-inflammatory properties that inhibit the growth of cancer cells without harming the healthy ones and, according to Harvard School of Public Health, eating more whole grains is linked with lower mortality rates. Studies involving over 800,000 people revealed that eating a large bowl of oats a day can reduce the risk of death by cancer by 20%.
Studies have found that a diet rich in whole grains like oats can help regulate body weight. Increased viscosity, generated by beta-glucan soluble fiber, delays gastric emptying and reduces the absorption of cholesterol. The increased interaction with the cells that release satiety hormones stimulates the release of peptide, a hormone associated with appetite control.
According to a Taiwanese study, oats can also help prevent obesity and the distribution of abdominal fat.
Although oats offer weight-loss benefits, make sure you buy plain oats without any added flavorings because packaged instant oatmeal contains a ton of sugar.
Energy and Muscle Builder
Oat contains carbohydrates, which are the body’s primary source of energy. Oatmeal is an excellent source of healthy carbohydrates because it contains a low glycemic index, which means it encourages fat loss and preserves muscles during workouts.The carbohydrates found in oat are not refined like the ones contained in pasta. They’re the healthy kind, and because the body absorbs them slowly, they can give you a longer lasting energy boost.
High in carbs and protein, which are essential to the building and recovery of muscles, oatmeal is a common favorite breakfast of athletes. Oats are also packed with B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, and folate) that work together to help the body metabolize energy. Oatmeal also contains 61 milligrams of potassium per 100-gram serving, which is required for the healthy contraction of muscles. Ions released by potassium assist with reflexes, as well as functions in the brain and nervous system related to muscles.
What we eat affects cognitive health and mental health, so it is crucial to follow a healthy diet to support our brains. A study on the connection between fast food and depression suggests that the presence of depressive symptoms are associated with fast-food intake in midlife women.
Compare that finding to research that shows oatmeal may fight depression and improve your mood because it contains healthy carbs that stimulate serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has a direct effect on appetite, impulse control, sleep, and mood elevation.
Oatmeal also contains iron, which is essential for healthy brain function because it supplies oxygen to the bloodstream. The amino acids found in oats help produce melatonin, the chemical that induces sleep—and vitamin B6 helps reduce stress, which is one major cause of sleeplessness.
Other Effects of Oat
About 334 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, an inflammatory disorder of the airways that usher air to and from a person’s lungs. Many researchers believe that introducing solid foods to a child too soon can increase the likelihood of developing asthma and other allergic diseases. Oats, however, may be one solid food that’s an exception.
One study found that the younger children were to eat oats, the less likely they were to develop persistent asthma. Another study revealed that when babies were fed oats before they were 6 months old they had less of a risk of childhood asthma.
Older adults often battle constipation, and frequently suffer from irregular bowel movements. To combat constipation people often resort to using laxatives, which can come with serious detriments to our health, such as malnutrition and health-compromising weight loss. A 2013 study made up of 30 frail elderly nursing home residents showed that, at the end of 6 weeks, more than half of the participants given 7-8 grams of oat bran a day discontinued laxative use while maintaining body weight.
Two studies revealed that oats added to a gluten-free diet boosted the nutritional values, and not just for vitamins and minerals but for antioxidants as well. In one study, men and women with celiac disease followed a gluten-free diet that included oats. After 6 months, results showed that large amounts of oats in gluten-free diets can increase intakes of nutrients in celiac patients in remission.
In the second study, the addition of oats ensured that gluten-free dieters got the recommended fiber intake. Oats also raised levels of bilirubin, an antioxidant that eradicates free radicals from the body and shields the brain from oxidative stress.
Eat Your Oats
You’ve probably got a hankering for oats right now, so how best to eat them? Let’s first break down the types of oats, and then the many ways to add them to your meals.
Rolled Oats and Steel-Cut Oats
These two main oat varieties start the same way—as whole oat groats. The hull of the whole oat is stripped, but the fibrous bran, endosperm, and germ remain, so you get the whole host of minerals and vitamins and antioxidants in the oat kernel, or oat groat.
Rolled oats cook much faster than steel-cut oats because they are softened up with steam and then pressed flat with metal rollers. Steel-cut oats, which are also called Scottish or Irish oats, are chopped up with steel blades. More specifically, Irish oats (traditional steel-cut oats) are chopped into 2-3 smaller pieces, while Scottish oats are stone-ground into a meal.
Rolled oats can cook in as little as 5 minutes, while steel oats take around 30 minutes of simmering. But the result is a creamy porridge with a nutty, crunchy flavor that makes for a distinct oat experience.
So, what type of oat is instant oatmeal, beyond being the American favorite? Rolled oats, or old-fashioned oats, that are cooked and dried before being rolled out thin. Sure, they’re ready to go with some hot water added, but they lose much of their nutritive power through processing.
Whether you’re a fan of rolled or steel or neither, you can also get your oats from breakfast cereals such as muesli and granola. And oat is also a baker’s dream when it’s used as oat flour!
Oat flour is made from oats ground into a flour-like consistency, but it doesn’t operate the exact same way as flour because there’s no gluten in it. It’s just not going to give the structure or density to your baked goods that regular flour does. But it does lend its impressive nutrients and a chewy texture to foods like pancakes, cookies, muffins, and brownies!
And you can always dress up a simple bowl of oatmeal with the recipe below!
Breakfast with Oat
Ready In: 10 Minutes
- 1/2 cup oatmeal
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup blueberries
- 1/8 cup flaxseed
- 1 banana
- 1 scoop VeggieShake
- Put oatmeal in a bowl.
- Add 1 cup water or milk or a combo of both.
- Microwave for 2 minutes.
- Chop the banana and add it to the bowl.
- Add blueberries.
- Add walnuts.
- Add flaxseed.
- Add one scoop of VeggieShake and stir.
- Pour honey on top and mix.
- Oat: reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and supports the immune system. It is also an excellent source of carbohydrates, which boost energy levels.
- Banana: rich in potassium, which regulates circulation and lowers blood pressure.
- Blueberry: high in antioxidants, which fight harmful free radicals and diseases.
- Walnut: contains omega-3 fatty acids, which improve brain and heart health.
- Flaxseed: rich in lignans (antioxidants), which have anti-aging, hormone-balancing, and cellular-regenerating effects.
- VeggieShake powder: Supergreens for supercharged energy and a strong immune system.
- Honey: contains antioxidants and is an excellent alternative to sugar. Choose a high-quality brand, because some of the lower quality ones contain extra sugar.