Oatmeal is a popular breakfast porridge prepared from (Avena sativa). The oat grains are processed either into the traditional rolled oats (by steaming and flattening the oat groats), or into steel cut oats by chopping the oats groats by large steel blades. The oats can be cooked either in plain water or milk into a porridge called oatmeal (1).
Oats contain about 68% carbohydrate, 10% fiber, 13% protein and 6% fat. They also contain significant amounts of micronutrients like manganese (233% of daily value, DV), vitamin B1 (66% DV), zinc (42% DV) and iron (38% DV) (2).
- Aids digestion. Oatmeal is rich in fiber which draws water into in the intestines, increasing the bulk and volume of feces, easing the defecation process. Also, fiber is not digested in the small intestines, so it ends up in the large intestines where it serves as food for the growth and multiplication of healthy bacteria. An increase in the population of healthy bacteria is vital to phase out disease causing bacteria, which increases the overall immunity of the body (3, 4).
- Controls blood sugar levels. The high fiber content of oatmeal imparts on it a low glycemic index, meaning it does not cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels when consumed. This is so because fiber is not digested in the small intestines, as such glucose will not be released for absorption into the blood stream, as is the case with other kinds of carbohydrates that are digested in the small intestines. So, fiber rich foods like whole oatmeal tend to release glucose rather slowly into the blood stream and have been successfully used to manage blood glucose levels in many patients with type 2 diabetes (5, 6).
- Reduces blood pressure. Oats contain certain phenolic compounds called avenanthramides, which stimulates the production of nitric oxide gas. Nitric oxide has a vasodilation (widening) effect on the blood vessels, thus making it easier for blood to flow and consequently reducing blood pressure (7, 8).
- Boosts heart health. Fiber reduces blood cholesterol concentration by binding to them and preventing their absorption into the blood stream. Besides, whole oatmeal contains a soluble fiber called beta glucan, which increases the excretion of bile acids in feces. This triggers the production of more bile acids from its precursor cholesterol, further reducing cholesterol concentrations in the blood stream. Elevated blood cholesterol levels is a risk factor of the development of cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, avenanthramides in oats prevents the development of atherosclerosis by inhibiting the proliferation of smooth muscle cells and increasing the production of nitric oxide (8, 9).
- Can help you lose weight. The beta-glucan type of fiber in oats is soluble in water, so once consumed, it dissolves in water and forms a highly viscous gel. This gel slows down the movement of food through the stomach, keeping you feeling fuller for longer. Also, signals of satiety are triggered which makes you eat less, reducing your calorie intake which over time can translate to a reduction in weight (10).
Oatmeal is a highly nutritious breakfast meal that should be included in your diet plan. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has endorsed its claim of being able to reduce one’s risk of developing coronary heart disease. According to the recommendations made by the MyPlate food model, more than half your grains should be whole grains such as whole oat grains amongst others. Additionally, if you are suffering from gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, oatmeal is a great alternative for you as it does not contain gluten (11).
- (2018, March 20). Retrieved November 25, 2022, from The Nutrition Source website: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/oats/
- FoodData central. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2022, from Usda.gov website: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1101825/nutrients
- Yang, J., Wang, H.-P., Zhou, L., & Xu, C.-F. (2012). Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: a meta analysis. World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG, 18(48), 7378–7383. doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i48.7378
- Valeur, J., Puaschitz, N. G., Midtvedt, T., & Berstad, A. (2016). Oatmeal porridge: impact on microflora-associated characteristics in healthy subjects. The British Journal of Nutrition, 115(1), 62–67. doi:10.1017/S0007114515004213
- (2022, July 27). Fiber: The carb that helps you manage diabetes. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/role-of-fiber.html
- Hou, Q., Li, Y., Li, L., Cheng, G., Sun, X., Li, S., & Tian, H. (2015). The metabolic effects of oats intake in patients with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrients, 7(12), 10369–10387. doi:10.3390/nu7125536
- Soycan, G., Schär, M. Y., Kristek, A., Boberska, J., Alsharif, S. N. S., Corona, G., … Spencer, J. P. E. (2019). Composition and content of phenolic acids and avenanthramides in commercial oat products: Are oats an important polyphenol source for consumers? Food Chemistry: X, 3(100047), 100047. doi:10.1016/j.fochx.2019.100047
- Nie, L., Wise, M. L., Peterson, D. M., & Meydani, M. (2006). Avenanthramide, a polyphenol from oats, inhibits vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and enhances nitric oxide production. Atherosclerosis, 186(2), 260–266. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2005.07.027
- Daou, C., & Zhang, H. (2012). Oat beta-glucan: Its role in health promotion and prevention of diseases. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 11(4), 355–365. doi:10.1111/j.1541-4337.2012.00189.x
- Rebello, C. J., O’Neil, C. E., & Greenway, F. L. (2016). Dietary fiber and satiety: the effects of oats on satiety. Nutrition Reviews, 74(2), 131–147. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuv063
- (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2022, from Myplate.gov website: https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/grains