Oats are one of the healthiest grains in the world.
They contain loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants. Oats do not contain gluten, which makes it a great option for people on gluten-free diets.
There are several health benefits of oats and oatmeal, which are backed by science.
They may help you lose weight, reduce your blood sugar levels and lower the risk of heart illnesses.
This article examines 9 science-based health benefits of oatmeal and oats.
What are oatmeal and oats?
Oats are nutrient-rich whole grains that are commonly consumed as rolled oats or oatmeal.
Freshly harvested oats are referred to as oats groats. This type of oat takes long to cook through. Most of the oats we consume are either rolled, steel-cut or crushed.
Instant oat is highly-processed and contains the least amount of fiber. They cook the fastest but may produce a mushy texture.
We mostly consume oats as a breakfast cereal, which we either cook in milk or water. In recent times, a lot of people eat what we call overnight oats meals, where they soak the oats in milk overnight.
Oatmeal is simply a type of meal made of hulled oat grains. It refers to oat porridge.
There are other ways to incorporate oats into our meals. You can add them to baked goods and granola bars. You can also incorporate them into yogurt.
Conclusion: Oatmeal is a type of breakfast porridge made from oats, which is a healthy, gluten-free whole grain.
Let’s move on and take a look at some of the benefits.
1. Oats contain plenty of nutrients
Oats is one of the few grains that contain a wide variety of nutrients.
Check out the nutritional composition for a full list of the nutrients in oats.
Oats are also high in fats and proteins compared to other types of grains (d).
Apart from the macronutrients, oats also contain plenty of minerals, vitamins and potent antioxidants. 78 grams of oats contain the following (e):
- 192% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of Manganese
- 40% of the RDI of Phosphorus
- 35% of the RDI of Magnesium
- 25% of the RDI of Copper
- 20% of the RDI of Zinc
- 19% of the RDI of Iron
- 38% of the RDI of Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
- 10 of the RDI of Vitamin B5.
- It also contains small amounts of potassium, vitamin B3, calcium and vitamin B6.
There are 52 grams of carbs, 9 grams of fiber, 12 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat and 302 calories in the 78 grams of protein.
This makes oats an excellent nutrient-dense food.
Conclusion: Oats are an excellent source of carbs and fiber, but also contain decent amounts of fats and protein. They also contain high amounts of several minerals and vitamins.
2. There are potent antioxidants in whole oats
Whole oats are very healthy. They contain potent antioxidants, particularly avenanthramides. You’ll also find polyphenols (useful natural organic compounds) in oats. (f).
Avenanthramides promote the production of nitric oxide, which can cause your blood pressure to drop. Nitric oxide helps the walls of the blood vessels to relax, which leads to increased blood flow, and subsequently lower your blood pressure (g, h, i).
Avenanthramides also have anti-inflammatory and antipruritic (anti-itching) properties (i).
Oats also contain plenty of the antioxidant, ferulic acid (j).
Conclusion: There are several potent antioxidants in oats, including avenanthramides and ferulic acid. It also contains natural organic compounds that may help lower your blood pressure.
3. Oats Are High in Soluble Fiber, Particularly the Beta-Glucan
Oats contain loads of the highly beneficial soluble fiber known as beta-glucan.
Beta-glucan combines with water to form a gelatinous substance in the intestines and stomach.
There are several health benefits of beta-glucan. It can:
- Lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin response (k).
- Act as an appetite suppressant by promoting satiety (l).
- Lower the level of LDL (the “bad”) and total cholesterols in the body, which may lower the risk of heart disease (a).
- Act as food for beneficial gut bacteria (which is good for digestive health) (m).
Conclusion: Oats contain high levels of beta-glucan, which is a potent soluble fiber. Beta-glucan may help regulate blood sugar levels, act as food for healthy gut bacteria, and provide benefits for heart health.
4. Oats can help regulate Blood Sugar Levels
High blood sugar levels are a well-known symptom of type-2 diabetes. People suffering from this illness have to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels. The biggest contributor to blood sugar spikes is insulin sensitivity.
Oats may also improve their insulin sensitivity (q).
Studies suggest that this health benefit of oatmeal may be due to the presence of the beta-glucan soluble fiber (r).
Conclusion: The beta-glucan in oats may help regulate blood sugar levels in people with type-2 diabetes and obesity.
5. Oatmeal May Cause a fall in cholesterol levels and Protect the LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage
Whole oats include the bran, which is the out casing of oats. Research shows that the bran can help lower LDL (the “bad”) and total cholesterols.
One of the risk factors for heart disease is the oxidative damage of LDL cholesterols by free radicals in the body.
This type of LDL damage can cause inflammation in the arteries, cause tissue damage and put you at a higher risk of stroke and heart attack.
Research shows that the antioxidants found in oats may help fight the oxidative damage of LDL cholesterol (m).
Conclusion: Oats contains antioxidants and beta-glucan, which may help decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.
6. Oatmeal may help with weight loss
One of the benefits of oatmeal is that it is very high in fiber.
Oatmeal is one of the world’s favorite breakfast foods, but they are not just delicious. They are also very effective at making you feel full for longer (s).
This effect makes you eat less and consequently decrease your overall calorie intake.
Beta-glucan is also responsible for this benefit of oatmeal. It forms a gelatinous substance in your stomach, delaying the rate at which food moves through the stomach, which makes you feel full for longer (l, t).
Beta-glucan may also boost the production of the gut hormone, YY peptide (PYY). PYY is a satiety hormone which acts as an appetite suppressant. There is a link between PYY and a lower obesity risk (u, v).
Conclusion: Oatmeal contains beta-glucan, which may provide benefits for weight loss. It helps you feel full for longer and may boost the production of YY peptides, which can act as an appetite suppressant.
7. Oat flour may be beneficial for your skin
Some skincare products list oats as one of the ingredients. Some ingredient lists call it “colloidal oatmeal”.
The FDA approved colloidal oatmeal as a skincare substance back in 2003. However, people have used oatmeal, as a remedy for skin irritation, itchiness, and several other skin conditions, for many decades (w, x, y).
Research suggests that skincare products containing oats may help improve some of the symptoms of the eczema skin condition (z).
It is also common to see people smear oatmeal all over their faces to acts as a facial scrub.
However, these benefits are only applicable when you apply the oats directly on the skin, and not for eaten oats.
Conclusion: Colloidal oatmeal or finely ground oats has a history of being used as a remedy for treating some skin conditions.
8. Oatmeal May Help Prevent Childhood Asthma
One of the most common chronic illnesses among children is asthma (a1).
It causes an inflammation of their airways, which causes breathing difficulties.
Symptoms may differ from child to child but the most common ones include breathing difficulties, excessive wheezing, and coughing.
Some scientist claim that one of the main risk factors for childhood asthma is the early exposure to solid foods (b1).
In one such study on the subject, researchers suggest that you can significantly reduce the risk of childhood asthma if you feed your child with oats before they turn 6 months old (e1).
Conclusion: Research suggests that early feeding of oats to children may help prevent childhood asthma.
9. Oatmeal May Help Relieve the symptoms of constipation
Constipation is a problem in the elderly population, with symptoms like infrequent and irregular bowel movements.
One of the ways to relieve the symptoms is to give them laxatives. However, research suggests that laxatives may cause weight loss and present a host of other negative side effects (f1).
In a 12-week study, researchers found that 59% of the participants on diets high in oat bran stopped using laxatives by the end of the trial (i1).
Conclusion: Research suggests that oat bran may help relieve the symptoms of constipation in the elderly population. It eliminated the need for laxatives in a high percentage of participants in one study.
Does Oatmeal Have Fiber?
There is fiber in oatmeal, contrary to what some people believe. Cooked oatmeal contains about 2% of dietary fiber. There are 1.7 grams of fiber in cooked oatmeal. It may not be as high as whole oats (11.6 grams per 100-gram serving) but it is still a decent amount of fiber.
You can add oatmeal to your diet in a variety of ways. You make oatmeal porridge, add them to baked goods, make overnight protein oats with whey protein, and incorporate them into a granola bar.
Naturally, oats do not contain gluten, although they contain avenins (a type of protein), which may trigger celiac disease a small group of people.
Therefore, if you are gluten-intolerant, you should make sure the oats you buy is certified as gluten-free.
Oats are very high in fiber, particularly the beta-glucan soluble fiber, which provides many health benefits.
They are also high in several antioxidants, which are good for the heart.
Many health experts consider oats a heart-healthy food and encourage us to eat it daily.
Oatmeal is a weight loss friendly food that makes you feel full for longer. Add cinnamon to oatmeal for added flavor and benefits.
Oatmeal is good for you and provides the body with several health benefits. They are delicious and can be used in a variety of meals. And they don’t have many side effects, which makes oats a healthy and safe breakfast food.