Is Oatmeal Good for You?

Is Oatmeal Good for You? | Health Benefits
Nutrition
Written By:
Adrien
Paczosa
RD
LD
CEDRD-S

I don’t know about you but when I was a little kid I said I HATED oatmeal because it was “gross”. Looking back now, it wasn’t the taste that I thought was gross (because I didn’t actually try it then) but I hated it because it looked like it tasted gross (typical kid). Fast forward to now and I have eaten oatmeal almost every single day for about 2-3 years! It’s my second favorite food (first being peanut butter) and I still get excited every time I make a warm bowl of oats.

Over the past few years I’ve been working towards pursuing a nutrition degree. While I already loved food before studying nutrition, I’ve fallen more in love with food after learning all of the amazing things nutrients do for your body. This blog article will be focusing on the amazing benefits of oatmeal! J AND a few easy-to make recipes and add-ins that you can try out!

Oatmeal 101:

Oatmeal is a whole grain that has various nutrients beneficial to your health. Oats obtain part of their flavor from the roasting process they undergo after harvest. Although the hulls are removed from the oats, this process does not strip away their brain and germ allowing them to retain more nutrients than grains that are more refined (1).

Oats can be processed several different ways; some examples are:  

Steel-cut Oats: process using steel cutters, chopping them into small, bead-like pieces. This processing retains the oat bran.Rolled Oats: the oats are de-hulled then steamed, which partially cooking the oats, and then flattened between two rollers (sometimes referred to as old-fashioned oats). This process stabilizes the healthful oils in the oats so they stay fresh longer and cook faster due to the greater surface area.Instant (or Quick) Oats: produced same way as rolled oats, but either rolled into thinner flakes or steamed for longer periods of time to completely cook them before the drying process. This processing creates a different texture than the steel-cut or regular rolled oats. (which some people like, some people don’t like)

There are other types of processing that create different varieties of oats, including raw, groats, oat flour, oat bran, Scottish oatmeal, and more… But I that would take forever and I want to focus on the nutrients and benefits (and delicious add-ins and recipes!!)

Nutrients in Oatmeal:

As mentioned before, oatmeal is a whole grain that provides many nutrients including carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and more. Each of these nutrients play an important and beneficial role in your body, such as:

Fiber:

Although we cannot digest fiber, it can help us stay healthy and prevent many digestive and long-term diseases, some examples of this include:

  • May reduce the risk for colon cancer by binding to cancer-causing substances and speed their removal from the body
  • May help prevent hemorrhoids, constipation, and other digestive problems by keeping stool moist and easy to pass
  • May reduce the risk for heart disease by delaying or blocking absorption of cholesterol in addition to lowering blood cholesterol
  • May enhance the ability to maintain a healthy weight by helping you stay full longer between meals. Fiber absorbs water, expands in the large intestine, and slows the movement of food through the intestines
  • May reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by controlling spikes in blood glucose
  • May reduce the risk of diverticulosis and diverticulitis. These are conditions caused by trying to pass small, hard stools that increase pressure on the colon wall causing them to bulge outward and create small pockets that can easily become infected. Fiber may reduce the risk of these conditions by keeping stools moist and easier to pass.

For more info about fiber and increasing your intake, check out an older article: Why you should care about Fiber

Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates are an important energy source in our body. They are required in the diet to minimize the body breaking down itself for energy. Our red blood cells can only use glucose (the product of carbohydrate digestion) for energy, and the brain and other nervous system tissue rely primarily on glucose. If our intake of carbohydrate is inadequate for long enough our body will break down itself and could eventually lead to ketosis and/or break down protein from its own organs!! Both conditions could become very serious with time and possibly lead to irreversible damage to organs (2). SO Eat Carbohydrates!

Protein and Fats:

Although the primary macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, & fat) in oatmeal is carbohydrates, oatmeal does contain smaller amount of fat and protein.

Protein is considered the building block of your body and serve many important functions including: growth and repair, contributing to healthy hair, skin, and nails, acting as hormones, contributing to healthy immune function, and much much more! Also, eating protein with every meal can help you manage your weight buy keeping you fuller longer between meals.

Fat: your body needs fat to keep you feeling full, to provide energy, to create many cells in the body, and to absorb certain vitamins. Enjoying fats in moderation may help keep you full, control cravings, and provide your body with the fat it needs.

Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)

Oatmeal also has numerous vitamins and minerals, some more abundant than others. The micronutrients in amounts closer to the daily recommend intake include: manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, copper, biotin, thiamin, magnesium, chromium, and zinc. Each of these micronutrients plays an important, distinctive role in your body to make it work at its best!

ARE YOU CONVINCED YET?

I hope this information has convinced you to try adding oatmeal (or just whole grains in general) to your regular diet. It’s so versatile and can be made so many different ways, savory or sweet, and you could easily find a recipe that best matches your taste preferences or time constraints.

Below I’ve added in some add-in items you could try to add flavor and increase the nutrient value of your bowl of oatmeal. I’ve also added three easy-to-make recipes you could try out.

Add-ins/Substitutions for additional health benefits:

  • Use milk instead of water (increase protein and calcium)
  • Add fresh fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, bananas, apples (increase fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants)
  • Nuts and Nut Butters: walnuts, pecans, peanuts, almond/peanut butter (increase the heart healthy mono- or polyunsaturated fats and protein), fats will also help keep you full and satisfied!

Three Delicious Oatmeal Recipes:

  1. Peanut Butter and Banana Overnight Oats
  2. Bacon Cheddar Savory Oatmeal
  3. Baked Oatmeal

Peanut Butter and Banana Overnight Oats:

Serves: 1

Ingredients:
½ medium banana (ripe, about ½ cup), mashed
½ cup dry rolled oats
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp. peanut butter
Cinnamon to taste (optional)

Directions:  

  1. In a small bowl, mash the banana with a fork
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl
  3. Mix until well combined. Ensure that the milk has moistened all of the oats
  4. Cover oats with a lid or wrap and set in refrigerator overnight or at least for six hours
  5. When ready to eat, unwrap the oats and stir. You can eat the oats cold or heated in the microwave for two minutes.
  6. Add optional toppings of choice and enjoy!

Picture from: http://www.domesticate-me.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/peanut-butter-and-banana-overnight-oats-vegan-and-gluten-free-step-6.jpg

Bacon Cheddar Savory Oatmeal  

Serves: 2

Ingredients:
2 strips thick bacon, chopped
2 tbsp. diced onion
1 cup dry rolled oats
2 cups water
2-3 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
2 large eggs, over easy
Salt and pepper
Fresh chives (optional)

Picture from: http://cdn.macheesmo.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/bacon-cheddar-savory-oatmeal.jpg

Directions:

  1. Chop bacon into smaller bacon bit sized pieces and add to medium pot over low heat. Cook slowly until bacon is crispy (~10 minutes)
  2. Remove crispy bacon bits from pan and drain off most of the bacon grease, leaving about a tablespoon. Add diced onion and cook for a minutes, using the onion to scrape any bacon bits stuck to the pan.
  3. Add rolled oats to the pan and stir for 15 seconds. Then add water. Bring water to a simmer, then turn heat down to low, and simmer for 8-10 minutes until oatmeal is thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, cook eggs over-easy
  5. Divide oatmeal into two bowls. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and crispy bacon. Top each bowl with an over-easy egg and fresh chives.

This recipe was created by: Macheesmo
http://www.macheesmo.com/bacon-cheddar-savory-oatmeal/

Baked Oatmeal:
Serves: 5
Serving Size: 2/3 cup

Ingredients

2 cups dry quick-cooking oats
½ cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1 tbsp. chopped walnuts
1 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ fat-free cups milk
½ cup applesauce
2 tbsp. applesauce
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 large egg
Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Combine the oats, brown sugar, raisins, walnuts, and baking powder into a medium bowl.
  3. Combine the milk, applesauce, butter, and egg in a separate bowl
  4. Add milk mixture to oat mixture; stir well
  5. Pour ingredients into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray
  6. Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes
  7. Serve warm

This recipe was created by: health.com
http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000000549848,00.html

As mentioned earlier, oatmeal is a versatile food that can be made multiple different ways. If the recipes above do not excite you or include some of your favorite foods, keep looking for different oatmeal variations online to find the best recipe for you.

 

AA, ILW Intern

References:

  1. World’s Healthiest Food: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=54
  2. Thompson, Janice, and Melinda Manore. The Science of Nutrition. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings, 2008. 473-479. Print.