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Oats: Nutrition, Benefits, Types

Oats: Nutrition, Benefits, Types

Oats have been around for centuries and a bowl of porridge has always been considered a satisfying breakfast. Oats are derived from a weed of the primary cereals wheat and barley.

Oats, a whole-grain food, have numerous uses in food. Most commonly, they are rolled or crushed into oatmeal or ground into fine oat flour. Oatmeal is mainly eaten as porridge but may also be used in a variety of baked goods such as oatcakes, oatmeal cookies and oat bread. Oats are also an ingredient in many cold cereals, in particular, muesli.

Nutritional Values Of Oats

Oats are among the most nutrient-dense foods and are composed mainly of carbohydrates but compared to other cereals they contain higher levels of both proteins and fats. They also provide significant amounts of B vitamins like folate, minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron. Oats are high in antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols.

Nutritive Value for 100gms

  • Energy - 389 kcal
  • Proteins – 17g
  • Total Fats - 6g
  • Carbohydrates - 66g
  • Dietary fiber - 11g
  • Calcium - 54 mg
  • Folate [Vit-B9] - 56µg
  • Magnesium - 177mg
  • Iron - 5mg

Benefits Of Oats

Including oats in your diet provides a wide range of important health benefits.

  • Oats can slow down the digestion process and provide an extended sensation of fullness. This makes them good for people who want to lose weight.
  • Beta-glucan promotes the release of peptide YY (PYY), a satiety hormone produced in the gut in response to eating. This leads to reduced calorie intake and lowers the risk of obesity.
  • Because of the high fiber content present in oats, they are said to be helpful in increasing the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract and preventing constipation.
  • Oats have a low glycemic index which means they are absorbed into the blood stream slowly helping to keep blood sugar levels stable.
  • Oats contain many powerful antioxidants, including avenanthramides, that helps reduce blood pressure.
  • Beta-glucans, a soluble fiber, effective in lowering blood cholesterol is present in oats and hence can lower the chances of having heart disease.
  • They contain a good balance of essential fatty acids, which have been linked with longevity and general good health, and also have one of the best amino acid profiles of any grain.
  • Oats contain phytochemicals (plant chemicals), which are believed to protect the body from chronic diseases such as cancer.

Myths About Oats

Myth: Having oats for breakfast will reduce weight.

Fact: No single food can reduce weight. Following a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly is the best way to reduce weight.

Myth: Oats should be avoided for children because it is difficult to digest.

Fact: Oats can be eaten by people of all ages. Children too are able to digest the soluble fiber that's present in oats.

Different Kinds Of Oatmeal

All the benefits mentioned above are actually for oats. Most people don’t think about oats, they think about oatmeal. In fact, most people can not identify whole oats.

There are many different levels of processing of oatmeal. Generally the larger the “flake”, as in rolled oats, or the bigger the seed or groat, as in steel cut oats, the less processed it will be, the more nutrients it retain and the slower it will digest.  It will also be slower to cook though.

Most people think steel cut oats are the least processed since that is how the largest groats are labeled, but some of the most processed oats like instant and baby are also steel cut.

Tips To Include Oats In Daily Diet

  • Add a tablespoon of oatmeal to curd for a fiber boost.
  • Oats make a tasty crispy coating for chicken or fish. Simply dip in egg white, coat with oats and then bake in the oven.
  • Use oats to make porridge or add to soup, stew or salads.
  • Replace up to 1/3 of the flour in recipes with oat flour.
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