Oatmeal Oats


Oats are cereal grains of the grass species Avena sativa, that are popularly eaten for breakfast in many homes around the world. They can be cooked in water or milk to be eaten as oatmeal, or ground into flour and used for baking, or included in pet food, or processed into cookies, cakes, bread, and granola bars. They are very nutritious as they are rich in fiber, protein, minerals, and vitamins. Oats contain very little fat and no cholesterol at all (1).

They come in different types notably the steel cut oats and rolled oats, which differ in their methods of processing and nutrient profiles. Both steel cut oats and rolled oats start off as oat groats which is oat kernels obtained by removing the hulls (2).

Steel cut vs rolled oats (2)

  1. Processing. Steel cut oats are produced by chopping the oat groats with large steel blades whereas rolled oats are the traditional old-fashioned oats produced by steaming and flattening the oat groats.

  2. Shape and texture. Steel cut oats are coarser, have a chewier texture and a stronger nutty flavor than rolled oats. Rolled oats on the other hand are softer and have a mushier texture. Because of these differences, steel cut oats are best suited for making chewy porridge whereas rolled oats are best for processing into cookies and granola bars.

  3. Cooking time. Steel cut oats take a longer time to cook (typically between 15 – 30 minutes), than rolled oats (2 – 5 minutes). Some people soak their steel cut oats in water before cooking to make it softer and consequently reduce cooking time.

  4. Nutrient profile. Steel cut oats have a better nutritional picture than rolled oats. The table below shows a comparison in nutrient profile for both oat types for a 96g serving.


Steel cut oats

Rolled oats

















Looking at the table above, steel cut oats contain fewer calories, less carbohydrates and fat compared to rolled oats. They also contain more fiber, and protein than rolled oats, which make them a better choice for someone who may be on a strict diet. Though these differences in nutrients are small, they make a big difference when many servings are consumed a day or when they are consumed regularly over a period (3, 4).

  1. Glycemic index (GI). Steel cut oats have a glycemic index of 42 whereas that of rolled oats is 55. The GI is a number assigned to foods that contain carbohydrates according to how quickly and how high they increase blood sugar levels after they are consumed. This score ranges from 0 to 100, with 100 being the score of glucose itself. A food with a low GI will release glucose slowly and steadily into the blood stream, a mechanism that favors diabetics. Steel cut oats are not processed so when consumed it takes much more time for our enzymes to breakdown and digest the carbohydrates in them causing a slower release of glucose into the blood stream. Also, they contain a slightly higher amount of fiber than rolled oats, which is not digested into glucose to be absorbed in the blood stream. Thus, though both oat types have a low GI, steel cut oats will be a healthier choice of oats for people strictly controlling their blood sugar levels as its GI is even lower (5, 6).

Steel cut oats and rolled oats are both nutritious oats that differ in their methods of processing and consequently their physical characteristics and nutrient profile. So based on what you really need, this comparison will guide you into deciding which of them is best suited.



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

  2. Steel Cut Oats vs. Rolled Oats: How Do They Compare? Retrieved September 3, 2022, from Masterclass.com website: https://www.masterclass.com/articles/steel-cut-oats-vs-rolled-oats-compared

  3. {{MetaTags.Title. (n.d.). Retrieved September 3, 2022, from Nutritionix.com website: https://www.nutritionix.com/i/bobs-red-mill/rolled-oats/5b93765999d4ee2a2372f32b

  4. {{MetaTags.Title. (n.d.-b). Retrieved September 3, 2022, from Nutritionix.com website: https://www.nutritionix.com/i/bobs-red-mill/steel-cut-oats/54072730a67cfab13a61a4a9

  5. LeWine, H. E. (2021, November 16). Glycemic index for 60+ foods. Retrieved September 3, 2022, from Harvard Health website: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods

  6. Steel cut oats are a nutrient rich way to start your day. (2012, November 27). Retrieved September 3, 2022, from MSU Extension website: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/steel_cut_oats_are_a_nutrient_rich_way_to_start_your_day



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