6 Health Benefits Of Oats: Reasons To Eat It Every Day

Health benefits of oats.

A popular breakfast option for health nuts around the world, oats can be prepared in numerous ways. You could soak them overnight with yogurt and berries, blend them into smoothies, add them to pancake batter, or cook them into porridge. The high nutritional quality of oats makes them a hit with nutritionists. And if you’ve haven’t added them to your diet yet, we’ve listed out their health benefits that might convince you to.

1. Aid Weight Loss

If you’re on a diet, oatmeal will be your new best friend. A cup of its serving packs in 16.5 g of fiber, which makes up for 66% of your recommended daily intake. It also offers 26.35 g of protein.1 Both of these macronutrients make oats a filling food and keep you satiated for longer by delaying the time it takes for the stomach to empty the food.2 The beta-glucan in oatmeal might also contribute to this feeling of “fullness” by promoting the release of peptide YY (PYY), a hormone that’s produced in the gut in response to eating. This, in turn, keeps you from overeating and going beyond your caloric goals for that day.3 4 5

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id="2">2. Manage Blood Sugar Levels

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, are at risk of it, or are just trying to keep a check on your blood sugar levels, oatmeal might be helpful.6 7 The beta-glucan in oats is believed to form a thick gel that delays emptying of the stomach and slows down the absorption of glucose into the blood. This keeps you from getting a sugar crash.8

In

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addition to this, a good way to find out how quickly a certain food will raise your blood sugar is to take a look at its glycemic index. Foods high on the glycemic index raise blood sugar levels and are linked to type 2 diabetes. They may also stimulate hunger and lead to obesity, both of which often increase the risk of diabetes. Oats, which have a low glycemic index of 55 does not raise blood sugar levels.9 10

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id="3">3. Prevents Constipation

If you struggle with constipation and infrequent, irregular bowel movements that are difficult to pass, oats might help.11 12 Laxatives are often prescribed to ease constipation but, despite being effective, they may cause unhealthy weight loss and reduce your quality of life. Studies have found that oat bran, the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain, may help relieve constipation in older people.13 In one such study, 30 elderly patients who consumed a soup or dessert containing oat bran daily experienced improved well being. 59% of the patients in question were able to stop using laxatives after the 3-month duration of the study, while the overall laxative use increased by 8% in patients who didn’t consume oat bran.14

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id="4">4. May Lower The Risk Of Asthma

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Oats are sometimes used topically to soothe inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and are a popular ingredient in facial masks.

Asthma, an inflammatory disorder of the airways, is the most common chronic disease in children.15 And although not all children have the same symptoms, many experience recurring coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. If your child does experience the same, oats might help.16 A few researchers have found that early introduction of solid foods could increase the risk of a child developing asthma and other allergic diseases.17 However, this hasn’t be found to apply to all foods. Early introduction of oats, in fact, has been found to protect against the incidence of asthma. One study even found that feeding oats to infants before the age of 6 months decreased the risk of childhood asthma.18 19

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id="5">5. Lower Cholesterol Levels

As mentioned earlier, the beta-glucan in oats, make them sticky, thick, and gel-like. This particular fiber in oats is what makes it ideal to lower cholesterol levels. A review of 58 clinical trials on oats that included 3,974 people across the globe found that an average daily intake of 3.5 grams of soluble fiber from oats reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by 4.2%. It was also found to reduce other markers of bad cholesterol by 4.8% and the protein on these particles, apoB, by 2.3% when compared to the group of people that didn’t consume oats.20 21 22

6. May Protect Heart Health

Consuming oats regularly may keep your heart healthy. Some studies that have looked into this benefit have also compared different oat forms (oat groats vs. instant). Others have looked at the effect of whole-grain intake as a whole.

A meta-analysis of 18 studies found that the risk of heart disease was 21% lower in people who had the highest intake of whole grains, including oats, as compared to people who had the lowest intake. Another study, that involved 54,871 Danish adults of ages 50–64, found that men and women with the highest total whole grain intake had  25% and 27% lower risk of heart attack than individuals with intakes with the lowest intake. Rye and oats, but not wheat, were associated with a lowered risk of heart disease, especially in men.23

Be Wary Of Cross-Contamination If You Have Celiac Disease

Although pure oats are gluten-free, most commercial brands are processed in facilities that also produce (gluten-containing) wheat, rye, and barley. Cross-contamination may also occur if oats are grown too close to wheat. The Food and Drug Administration allows the voluntary use of the regulated term “gluten-free” in products that contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. And since it is voluntary some (unlabelled) brands might, in fact, be gluten-free. That said, if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity it might be best to go for brands of oats that are specifically labeled “gluten-free.”24

Oats Can Be Differentiated Based On How They Are Processed

If you’ve ever been confused regarding all the different types of oats there are in the market, here’s a quick guide that might be helpful:25

  • Oat groats: These are whole oat kernels, including the germ, endosperm, and bran, that have been cleaned, with only the loose, inedible hulls removed.
  • Oat bran: This is made up of the fiber in a groat. It is often eaten as a cereal or added to recipes to boost fiber content.
  • Steel-cut or Irish: These are oat groats that have been cut into two or three smaller pieces, sometimes using a steel blade (hence the term steel-cut). The larger the size of the pieces, the longer they will take to cook.
  • Scottish oats: These are oat groats that have been stone-ground into a meal. They turn into a porridge-like texture when cooked.
  • Rolled or old-fashioned: These are oat groats that have been steamed, rolled, and flattened into flakes. They are then dried to remove moisture so they are shelf-stable.
  • Quick or instant: These are oat groats that are steamed for a longer period than the old-fashioned variety and rolled into thinner pieces so that they can absorb water easily and cook very quickly. Do bear in mind that many brands of instant oats come sweetened or flavored, so be sure to check the ingredients for no added sugar.

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