6 Reasons You Should Be Eating Oatmeal

What is Oatmeal?

Oatmeal is a meal or porridge prepared by cooking oats in water or milk. Oats are cereal grains of the grass species Avena sativa, cultivated in many parts of the world. Oatmeal is commonly eaten at breakfast though sometimes it is processed into oatmeal cookies, oak bread, oak cakes, and granola bars (1).

Oats contain significant amounts of carbohydrate (68%) and fiber (10%), with a generous amount of protein (13%) and a very little amount of fat (6g). They also contain substantial amounts of minerals and vitamins like manganese (233% of daily value, DV), phosphorus (75% DV), vitamin B1 (66%), magnesium (50%), zinc (42%) and iron (38%) (2).


  1. Reduces the risk of heart disease. Consuming oats reduces blood concentrations of cholesterol as oats are rich in fiber which binds to cholesterol and prevents them from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Furthermore, the soluble fiber, beta glucan, from whole oat grains, interacts with bile acids, increasing their excretion in feces. This causes an increase in the need to produce bile acids from cholesterol, further decreasing blood LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol concentrations. High levels of blood cholesterol is a risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease, which can be fatal (3, 4).

  2. Helps control blood sugar. Whole grain oatmeal has a low glycemic index, implying it does not increase blood glucose levels. This is due to its high fiber content, and since fiber is not digested, it is not absorbed as well. The inclusion of whole grain oats in the diet plan of patients with type 2 diabetes have been reported to significantly reduce blood glucose levels in several research studies. (3, 5).

  3. Helps with weight loss. Beta-glucan, present in oats is a soluble fiber that dissolves in water forming a thick viscous gel, slowing down food transit time and consequently decreasing gastric emptying. This triggers satiety signals which create a feeling of fullness that lasts longer and hence reduces a person’s food intake. The reduction in calorie intake enables a person lose weight (6).

  4. Boosts digestive health. Fiber absorbs water from the intestines, thus increasing both the bulk and volume of feces and preventing constipation (7). Additionally, fiber is not digested in the small intestines, so it ends up in the large intestines, where healthy bacteria feed on them and grow. A good population of healthy gut bacteria out-phases disease causing bacteria and keep the host healthy (8).

  5. Prevents oxidative stress. Oats are rich in polyphenols, which are naturally occurring compounds that have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. The most notable of them is avenanthramides, which are found only in oats. Antioxidants, prevent excessive oxidation reactions that stress the cells and destroy them by capturing free radicals that are involved in these oxidation reactions. They also prevent excessive inflammatory reactions due to their anti-inflammatory activities. Oxidative damage and chronic inflammation reactions are all implicated in the origin of many diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease (9, 10).

  6. Prevents hypertension. Avenanthramides present in oats also trigger the production of nitric oxide, a gas which widens the blood vessels and decreases the pressure of blood flow, hence preventing hypertension (11).

Oatmeal is a delicious breakfast meal that provides the body with many nutrients. It is reputed for its ability to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, a claim endorsed by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The MyPlate food model recommends that more than half your grains be whole grains, and whole oat grains features on that list. Oatmeal is also a great alternative to wheat for those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease as it is gluten free (12).



  1. The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. (2021). oats. In Encyclopedia Britannica.

  2. FoodData central. (n.d.). Retrieved August 23, 2022, from Usda.gov website: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1101825/nutrients

  3. Oats. (2018, March 20). Retrieved August 23, 2022, from The Nutrition Source website: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/oats/

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Zhang, T., Shao, J., Gao, Y., Chen, C., Yao, D., Chu, Y. F., … Ji, L. L. (2017). Absorption and elimination of oat avenanthramides in humans after acute consumption of oat cookies. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2017, 2056705. doi:10.1155/2017/2056705

  10. Bashir, K. M. I., & Choi, J.-S. (2017). Clinical and physiological perspectives of β-glucans: The past, present, and future. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(9). doi:10.3390/ijms18091906

  11. 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

  12. Grains. (n.d.). Retrieved August 24, 2022, from Myplate.gov website: https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/grains

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