Oatmeal might seem like a mere component of a very average breakfast, but there’s so much more to it than just being seen as a delicious porridge. Here, you’ll get to know everything you should about the humble oat.
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First of all, is oatmeal a true superfood? Since a superfood is defined as a “food that is rich in compounds considered beneficial for a person’s health”, then…yes, oatmeal can be considered a natural superfood. Oats are 100% whole grain that goes through minimal processing and contains vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Let’s see all about this natural superfood.
Oatmeal contains three segments of seed – the endosperm, germ, and bran. About 20 percent of the total energy we get from consuming oats comes from fat. Yet, this is a healthy, unsaturated kind of fat. In fact, the type of fat found in oatmeal carries vitamin E, which is a key antioxidant when it comes to disease battling. Regarding the rest of the energy that this carbohydrate provides, 12 percent comes from protein, and, as a vegetarian, I can assure you oatmeal is one of my preferred protein sources. Oats are also packed with fibre and contain beta-glucan, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol reabsorption in the gut and helps to reduce your risk of a heart attack.
Here are some of the key health benefits of consuming oatmeal regularly:
- Oats provide a variety of important micronutrients, including potassium, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B1, and zinc.
- Oatmeal can lower the circulating levels of cholesterol in your blood since oats contain beta-glucan.
- Oats can also help lower your blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
- Because oatmeal can make up for a nutritious, filling, and delicious meal, it can help you maintain or lose weight.
- Oatmeal consumption promotes healthful bacteria in the digestive tract.
- It helps reduce the development of asthma, as shown in this study.
Now, onto the regular consumption of oatmeal. There are different types of oats available nowadays, and some of them have more nutritional value than others. Here’s a complete breakdown of them and recommendations on which ones are better to buy.
- Rolled oats: The nutritious outer husk of these oats is left intact, whilst the grain is lightly steamed and pressed into a flat flake. Rolled oats are super easy to use and can be easily integrated into muesli, a creamy oatmeal porridge, granola, or even cookies.
- Steel-cut oats: These oats are coarsely chopped and maintain the whole grain, making them fully nutritious. They undergo very little processing and are an excellent source of fibre and nutrients. They take longer to cook than rolled oats, but you can soak them overnight to shorten those cooking times. It can be worth it for you depending on your personal preferences regarding texture and processing levels.
- Oat bran: This is made by a separation process during milling that ends up with the bran being all that’s left. Therefore, it can´t be considered a whole-grain, but it still is very rich in fibre. It’s commonly used in baking things like bread or muffins.
- Quick oats: These are just like rolled oats, but rolled even thinner or sometimes chopped coarsely. Since it is a smaller oat flake, it can be quicker to cook. The texture differs between instant and rolled oats, with the rolled ones having a much creamier and nice texture. Quick oats are still nutritious, but it’s better to just skip them and consume traditional rolled oats or steel-cut oats instead.
Sold on committing to oatmeal? Here are 3 easy-to-make super healthy oatmeal recipes so you can get started with this natural superfood.
- Three-Ingredient Oatmeal Porridge:
No kidding, this is my absolute go-to breakfast recipe. It takes less than 10 minutes to make and you’ll be ready to get on with your day.
- Half a banana (or a full one depending on your hunger levels/sweetness) preferences
- 50 grams of rolled oats
- 250 ml of your milk of choice or just plain old purified water
The first step is to smash the banana. Then, you place all ingredients in a small pot on the stove and mix for about five minutes or until the consistency seems perfect to your taste. Lastly, you pour that delicious goodness into a bowl, and you can choose (I highly recommend it though) to top it off with honey, maple syrup, granola, dates, or fruit. And, you’re all done: you’ve made breakfast in three simple steps.
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Another go-to recipe of mine, this is my favourite comfort food and afternoon snack. To be honest, I have tried about a dozen variations of oatmeal cookies with additional ingredients, so don’t be afraid to make this recipe your own and switch things up once you get the hang of it.
- 280 grams of rolled oats
- 7 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 40 grams of chocolate chips
- 5 chopped dates (optional)
You’ll start by preheating your oven before separating 200 grams of those oats and blending them into oat flour. The remaining ones should be left rolled. Then, you’ll mix all the dry ingredients into a big bowl. Place the wet ingredients into another bowl and mix them well until forming a consistent mixture. Now, it’s time to mix together the dry and wet mixtures, slowly incorporating the wet one into the dry ingredient’s bowl. Finally, add the chocolate chips and chopped dates before rolling them into gorgeous cookie balls and pressing them into a cookie shape. Bake for 10-15 minutes, and enjoy!
- Oatmeal extravaganza smoothie:
I think it’s clear I love to play around with my own recipes by now, and smoothies are no exception. This one is refreshing, yet very fulfilling thanks to the oats in it. It can be made into a smoothie bowl with fruit on top, or it can also be made as a regular smoothie.
- A banana, preferably frozen for a thicker consistency
- 2 tablespoons of rolled oats
- 100 ml of milk or water
- Half a cup of blueberries
- A cup of strawberries
Here, you just have to blend everything together and enjoy it as a fresh smoothie or smoothie bowl. Toppings are optional but always encouraged as some extra delicious goodness.
Cheers to you for introducing more oatmeal into your diet!