As the weather starts to cool down as we meander into Winter here in Perth, I turn to a warming, sustaining bowl of oat porridge for breakfast. Oats have a host of health benefits as well as a nourishing and grounding feeling to them that make them the perfect start to your day.
Oats gained a special distinction as a “super food” back in 1997 when the US Food and Drug Administration made the claim that there is an association between a diet high in oats and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. With that announcement, oats, oatmeal, oat bran, and oat flour skyrocketed in popularity among the whole grains, placing it right up there with the top 10 super foods. Let’s take a look at what else this well known grain has to offer.
Oats are rich in important vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, and selenium. They are also full of B vitamins which contribute to strong healthy skin, nails, and hair.
Oats, along with other whole grains, provide protection against heart disease, potentially extending the lifespan of people who include this food regularly in their diets.
Beta glucan is the main ingredient in oats responsible for lowering serum cholesterol levels. Oats also contain special antioxidants called avenanthramides. Together these two elements have been shown to significantly reduce LDL cholesterol levels when oats are consumed on a regular basis.
Oats have a low glycemic index, which means the energy from this food burns slowly and stays with you to satisfy your hunger for a longer period of time. Having nutrients released slowly into your bloodstream and throughout your body helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, eliminating the spikes which can cause many health problems and concentration problems.
Oats are a high fiber, high protein food that’s low in calories. Along with other whole grains, studies have found that consuming oats can aid in the battle against breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and asthma in children. With this sort of super food on your side, why wouldn’t you eat it?
Oats are an inexpensive and widely available grain that can be easily incorporated into meals at any time of day. Oats are easy to store in containers (preferably glass or BPA-ree plastic) and have a very long shelf life.
A bowl of hot porridge in the morning is the most familiar way oats are served. It is best to buy whole organic oats and cook them on your stovetop – avoid the microwave version, as microwaves are to be avoided at all times! Vary the toppings and you vary the recipe enough to eat servings of oatmeal a number of times each week without getting bored. Add berries, nuts, maple syrup, or protein powders to boost the flavor and superpowers of your oatmeal. For extra nutrition and easier digestion, soak your oaks overnight before you cook them – this will also decrease the cooking time.
Besides breakfast cereal, there are a number of other ways to incorporate oats into your daily diet. Oats are often used to make hearty muffins, cookies, and other desserts. Don’t forget about convenient trail mixes or muesli bars. Oats are often the central ingredient in those tasty treats.
Mixing oatmeal in as a binder for burgers, meatloaf, and meatballs is another way to ‘sneak’ more nutrition into your diet. Oats also play center stage in a number of bread recipes, whether as a main ingredient or to add just a bit of heartiness and crunch.
As you can see, oats provide enough significant benefits for healthy living to make them a vital part of your healthy eating plan.
How do you enjoy your oats?