Oats can be regarded as one of the healthiest grains. It is a great source of many nutritional components such as minerals, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. More so, it has a plethora of health benefits, and it is consumed all over the world.
WHAT ARE OATS AND OATMEAL?
Oats are a fully-grain food and it is botanically known as Avena sativa. The most whole and intact form of oats (oat groats) take longer to properly cook thus, many people go for steel-cut, crushed, or rolled oats.
However, instant oats, which are widely consumed nowadays, are the variety that is highly processed. They have a mushy texture and they take a very short while to cook, unlike the oat groats variety which is fully natural.
All over the globe, oats are commonly prepared for breakfast (in this form, it is referred to as oatmeal). It is prepared by boiling oats in milk or water. Oatmeal has proven to be a good and light food to start the day, and it is also known as porridge.
They are also used in the production of snacks such as granola bars, muffins, cookies, and other baked goodies. They are quite beneficial to the body.
THE NUTRITIONAL VALUE
It is essential to note that the nutritional composition of oats is perfectly balanced. They are very beneficial to both infants and adults, and interestingly, they are a rich source of fiber, carbs, and also a highly effective fiber beta-glucan.
They are unique from other grains as they possess more fiber and protein. It is packed with a variety of nutrients like minerals, vitamins, and antioxidant plant compounds. The nutritional value of half a cup of dry oats is as follows.
- Phosphorus: 41% of the RDI (Reference Daily Intake)
- Copper: 24% of the RDI
- Iron: 20% of the RDI
- Zinc: 20% of the RDI
- Folate: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 10% of the RDI
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 39% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 34% of the RDI
Half of a cup of dry oats also contain small amounts of potassium, calcium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and vitamin B3 (niacin). It also comes with 13 grams of protein, 51 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fat, 8 grams of fiber, and up to 303 calories.
This makes oats a healthy meal for consumption as a meal or ingredient for snacks.
Here are some medical benefits of oats:
LOWER CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Studies show that heart disease is among the health defects that cause death globally. One of the risk factors is high cholesterol levels in the blood. Research has indicated that the beta-glucan fiber which is present in oats is efficient in the reduction of cholesterol levels.
The oatmeal could be regarded as a natural remedy in lessening cholesterol in the body.
IMPROVEMENT OF BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL
Studies have shown that oats can help in the lowering of blood sugar levels especially in obese people and those suffering from type 2 diabetes. It may also help in the improvement of insulin sensitivity.
This is achieved majorly through the beta-glucans’ ability to produce a thick substance or gel that delays the stomach from emptying its substance and it also assists the absorption of glucose into the blood.
THEY ARE RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
Oats contain a high level of antioxidants as well as beneficial plant compounds known as polyphenol. One unique group of rich antioxidants that they are contained with is the avenanthramides.
These antioxidants can help to lower blood pressure by reducing the production of nitric oxide in the body. They help to dilate blood vessels to allow an easy flow of blood.
Moreover, avenanthramides have anti-itching and anti-inflammatory effects. Another antioxidant that is highly contained in oats is the ferulic acid. This antioxidant also has a lot of anti-inflammatory benefits and possesses other physiological functions. It has an anticancer and antidiabetic effect.
Besides, it also accelerates wound healing, enhances angiogenesis, and inhibits melanogenesis.
OATS CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT
Not only are oats a delicious meal, but it is also very filling. Consuming oats could help you eat fewer calories and lose weight.
Oats contain beta-glucan which helps to decrease your feeling of hunger by delaying the time it takes your stomach to be empty of food.
Beta-glucan has also been seen to promote the release of the peptide, a hormone that is produced in the gut in response to eating. This hormone helps you reduce your calorie intake thereby reducing your risk of developing obesity to the barest minimum.
LOWERS THE RISK OF DEVELOPING COLON CANCER
Cancer of the colon is something nobody should have to go through because it is horrible and painful. A recent study by some researchers in Britain and the Netherlands showed that there was a link between people who ate foods that are high in fiber (mainly from cereals and whole grains like oats) to a lower risk of colon cancer.
This study covered up to 2 million people and found that for every extra 10 grams of fiber in a person’s diet, there was a 10% reduction in their risk of developing cancer of the colon.
OATMEAL BOOSTS IMMUNITY
Oats is a nutritious diet that could also boost and increase your immune response to diseases. It is contained with a unique fiber, beta-glucan which helps neutrophils travel more quickly to the site of the infection and enhances their ability to destroy any bacteria they find there.
OATS COULD REDUCE THE RISK OF CHILDHOOD ASTHMA
Asthma is the most chronic disease that kids suffer. It is an inflammatory disorder of the tubes that carry air to and from the lungs.
However, not all children have the same symptoms. For some it may be wheezing, shortness of breath, and recurrent coughing.
A lot of researchers believe that introducing solid food to children at a very early stage may increase their risk of developing asthma and also other diseases that are allergic.
However, studies have proven that this doesn’t apply to all food. Oats meal, for example, may supply the child with numerous health benefits.
Recently, a study showed that feeding oats to infants regularly before they get to 3 months could decrease their risk of ever developing childhood asthma.
HELPS TO RELIEVE CONSTIPATION
Constipation is very common among the elderly. Most times they experience it with infrequent and irregular bowel movements that are often really difficult to pass.
Most often, laxatives are used to relieve constipation among old people but while they can be effective, they are also associated with not just weight loss but also reduced quality of life.
Recent studies have shown that the outer rich fiber of an oat grain known as oat bran could significantly help to relieve constipation in older people.
The research found that there was an improvement in 30 elderly patients that consumed a soup dessert that contained oat bran daily for 13 weeks.
Moreover, up to 59% of those patients completely stopped using laxatives after the 3-month study.
IMPROVES ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
Oatmeal is a great protein and carbohydrate source that could supply you with enough energy. Oats have been shown to favorably enhance performance and alter metabolism after being ingested 45 minutes before work out.
OATMEAL HELPS YOU SLEEP
A lot of people see it as a norm to have oatmeal only for breakfast but it has been shown that this meal is also wise before bedtime. Scottish people recommend a bowl of oatmeal in the evening to help you feel nice and sleep well.
OATS CAN ALSO BE SAVORY
Usually, oats are paired with sweet meals like cinnamon, brown sugar, or fruit but they can also make a perfect savory side dish.
They provide a texture that is similar to buckwheat, and their bland taste is similar to a blank canvas for a variety of spices and seasonings.
You can easily combine oats with the previous night’s leftovers or your favorite vegetables and top it with a sprinkle of cheese or an egg to enjoy a fantastic dinner or breakfast.
It is interesting to note that oats can be found in a good number of different types of body lotions and other skincare products. Manufacturers of these products often use finely ground oats in their production. They refer to them (finely ground oats) as “colloidal oatmeal.”
In 2003, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of colloidal oatmeal as a skin-protective substance. This is because, historically, oats have been used to treat numerous skin defects and it can help relieve skin irritation and itching due to rashes or eczema. For instance, skin products that contain finely ground oats may help in improving the discomforting symptoms of eczema.
OATS ARE GOOD FOR YOU
So, the answer to the question posed as the topic is yes! Oats are highly nutritious with amazing health benefits and it is weight-loss friendly. If you are yet to include oatmeal in your diet, then you should consider doing so as you have a lot to gain from consuming oatmeal as against other regular cereals.
It is one of the healthiest cereals you can consume.