Did you know there are actual meaningful health benefits of oatmeal? Maybe you did, and I have been living in a freaky world where I was under the impression that this was essentially filler with a bit of fiber in it. I know that I hated it growing up because I had the unsweetened kind far too much and no kid really likes the unsweetened kind. Plus, does the expression “sticks to your ribs” really make anyone want to dig in? Because that’s how that breakfast was described to me in terms of the advantages it had to offer. Gag. As it turns out, there’s a lot more to it than kid me knew! Thank goodness.
The Health Benefits of Oatmeal are Amazing!
The health benefits of oatmeal do start with the fiber content. There’s lots of fiber in there. Even more when you step away from the instant stuff and go for the old-fashioned kind like steel cut oats. More specifically though, this grain is cool because it contains both insoluble and soluble fiber – both kinds. Together, they’re good for controlling blood sugar levels, ensuring that you’re regular (bathroom-wise) and that you feel satisfied by the meals that contain them. The soluble side of the fiber is also great for boosting your good cholesterol (HDL) and lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) because it absorbs it right out of the bloodstream.
I missed out on all those benefits while I was doing the keto diet, which is a real shame because one of the health benefits of oatmeal is that it is lower on the glycemic index than white bread or potatoes while it stabilizes blood sugar levels.
The Type of Oat Matters
As I briefly mentioned before, there are several types of oats that you can eat. It’s not just limited to those little instant packets that you add hot water to. In fact, those are usually considered the least beneficial because they’re highly processed, removing a lot of what makes oats great. Also, if you’re getting the flavored variety, you’re also negating a lot of the benefits because those are verrrrry high in sugar.
Instead, consider adding vanilla extract, cinnamon, or berries to get the whole benefits of oatmeal while still enjoying sweet yumminess.
Oatmeal Varieties Include
- Steel-cut oats – The outer husk is removed, and the kernel is cut down into smaller pieces. This leaves a different shape and texture to the flat variety many of is associate with this food. This is a thicker and chewier form very high in fiber and nutrients.
- Oat groats – This is the complete oat kernel, which is left intact. The result is chewy and filling, somewhat like brown rice after it has been cooked.
- Rolled oats – This is a form more familiar to many of us. The groats are steamed and then rolled flat, then steamed again. The result is flakes that contain the whole grain even though they are processed. If you don’t like groats or steel-cut oats, then this is one of the best ways to get the benefits of oatmeal.
- Quick oats – This is a form that takes rolled oats and then processes them even further by steaming and rolling them yet again so that they are even thinner. As a result, it doesn’t take long to cook them. The result is softer and mushier, but also easier to digest.