Rolling out the facts on oats:
Oats are a high fiber, whole grain that is an excellent addition to a healthy diet. They contain a higher amount of protein compared to some of their other grain companions, such as brown rice and are also rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. Oats contain anti-oxidants that may suppress inflammation and reduce risk of certain cancers and contain a special starch called beta-glucan, which is thought to help protect the cardio-vascular system and lower cholesterol.
Even though oats are a whole grain carbohydrate, they are low on the glycemic index. Due to their high fiber content, including oats on a regular basis into your diet can have other beneficial effects such as:
- Slowing the release of glucose into the bloodstream as food is digested, therefore regulating blood sugar and creating a feeling of fullness which can suppress the appetite for longer, avoiding the crash that often comes from eating higher glycemic foods such as simple or processed carbohydrates. This may help with weight loss.
- Helps regulate the bowels and improve the microbiome and can help reduce IBS symptoms through decreasing inflammation, adding pre-biotic materials, and adding bulk.
Other benefits to eating oats:
- Quick and easy to use
- Gluten free (ensure certified if celiac as oats can be cross contaminated in their processing with other gluten grains such as wheat)
- Suitable grain for people with type 2 diabetes (avoid instant oats as these have a higher GI and are often found packaged with added sugar and sodium)
- Can be a part of a 50 mile diet
- Can be part of a raw food diet
- Cleanse program friendly
How to use them:
Oats can be processed in several ways but despite their processing, they maintain their bran and germ and therefore remain a whole grain. Steel cut oats are the thickest and take the longest to cook while quick or instant oats cook up fast. Often instant or quick oats are found packaged with flavours and are high in sugar and sodium and should, ultimately, be avoided.
The most commonly used oat is the old fashioned or rolled oat, which is what you will find in any of my recipes that call for oats or oat flour.
Most often, oats are used in hot cereal (porridge) or soaked over night in the fridge for a quick and easy breakfast the following day. They can be baked into granola, muffins, cookies or used for a fruit crisp topping. They can also be used as a substitute for wheat flour in meatloaf, lentil loafs or burgers. Oat milk is a delicious option for a non-dairy milk. I even saw a recipe for oat wraps but I haven’t tried that one out yet!
Lastly, oats have been used externally for skin masks, rashes and Grandma’s remedy for itchy chicken pox! It really works!
A note on oat bran:
Oat bran is another option when considering oats in your diet. The bran is the outer layer of the oat groat that has been separated from the germ and endosperm and is more concentrated in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, thus boosting its health benefits. Due to its higher concentration of fiber and protein it may be an alternative for people on a lower carbohydrate diet. It can be used as a hot cereal, cooking faster and creating a nuttier, creamier porridge or used to bump up the nutrition in muffins, cookies and breads.
Oats should stay fresh up to 24 months if stored in an airtight container in a cool place or the freezer.