Oats are a nutritious whole grain that are very good for your health. Oatmeal is high in fiber and is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating oats or oatmeal every day is good for your heart health, losing weight, and strengthening your immune system. Oats are also naturally gluten-free grain and can be enjoyed by people with diabetes as they can help lower blood glucose levels.
Oatmeal porridge can be a delicious start to the day that helps keep you feeling full until lunchtime. Oats also have soothing and hydrating properties that make oatmeal a great natural remedy for skin issues.
In this article, you will learn about the many benefits of eating oatmeal every day. You will also find out about scientific research that backs up many of the claimed benefits of products containing oats.
What are Oats and Oatmeal?
Oats (Avena sativa) are a cereal grain that contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Oats and oatmeal (ground or rolled oats) are often found in cereal bars, muesli, cookies, and oat-based drinks.
According to the Journal of Food and Science Technology, many of the health benefits of oatmeal come from the soluble fiber beta-glucan. B-glucan is connected with lowering cholesterol, treating hypertension, and has anticancer properties.
In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved health claims that taking 3 grams a day of B-glucan from oats can help to lower your risk of coronary heart disease. The journal Nutrients reports that oatmeal is so good for you that it should be promoted as a food to improve health.
The Different Types of Oats
You can enjoy oats in a number of different ways. You can cook oats with milk or water to make an oatmeal breakfast. Or, you can add nutritious oatmeal to baked goods or make energy-boosting granola bars. You can also buy many different types of oats:
Steel cut oats
Steel cut oats are a coarse type of oatmeal. Steel cut oats are produced by chopping oat kernels to create oatmeal that looks like pinheads. This produces a type of oatmeal that has a nutty flavor and can be made into coarse oatmeal porridge.
Rolled oats are produced by steaming oat kernels and then rolling the oat grains. This produces a type of oat that is flat and looks like oat flakes. This type of oat cooks faster than steel cut oats and are a popular ingredient for cooking with.
Instant oats are very popular at breakfast time because they are very quick to cook. Instant oats contain all the goodness in rolled oats but they are rolled much thinner. This creates a breakfast oatmeal that has a very soft texture.
Because they are digested much quicker than rolled oats or steel cut oats, instant oats may not be suitable for diabetics. For diabetics the best option would be steel cut oats.
Other types of oats
Oats are also ground into flour to create oat flour which may be used by people who have gluten sensitivities. You can also buy oat bran. This is the fibrous husk or hull from the oat cereal grain that is separated during the milling process.
Is Oatmeal Good for Diabetics?
When made from rolled oat or steel cut oats, oatmeal is a healthy food for people with diabetes. Oatmeal has a low glycemic index and is good for helping to stabilize blood glucose levels.
A 2018 crossover study found that oatmeal may help to reduce the amount of insulin diabetics require. In the study, people with type 2 diabetes consumed oatmeal for 2 days. Researchers noted that because of the meals containing oats, the diabetics needed less insulin. (3)
A review of 14 controlled trials found that consuming oats have many benefits if you have diabetes. Oatmeal helps to lower blood glucose spikes after eating, improve insulin responses, and lower cholesterol. Studies have shown that even a single meal of oatmeal can help to regulate blood glucose levels in diabetics.
Other studies have shown that eating raw oats can also benefit people with diabetes. One study found that cooking rolled oats to create an oatmeal porridge and adding raisins didn’t affect blood glucose or insulin levels after eating. (5)
Oats and Oatmeal are Healthy and Good for You
When looking at the nutritional value of oats and oatmeal, it is clear to see why oats should be part of a healthy diet.
One cup of raw oats contains a huge amount of fiber. There are 16.5 grams of fiber in a cup of oats which is 66% of your recommended daily fiber intake (RDI). The same amount of oats also contains 103 grams of carbs and 607 calories.
156 g of oats (approx. one cup) also contains 7.4 g of iron (41% RDI), 276 mg of magnesium (69% RDI), 816 mg of phosphorus (82% RDI), 1 mg of copper (49% RDI), and 7.7 mg of manganese (383% RDI).
Starting each day with a bowl of oatmeal also helps to keep you healthy due to the number of antioxidants in oats. Oats contain more than 20 unique polyphenols called avenanthramides. These have anti-inflammatory, anti-itching, and anticancer properties.
One of the nutritional benefits of eating oatmeal every day is that it’s a rich source of good-quality plant protein. Researchers have found that the protein content of oats is unique among other cereals. Oats contain amino acids that are usually found in legumes and not in other grains.
One of the major health benefits of whole grain oats that sets them apart from other cereals is the high levels of beta glucan fiber. This type of fiber helps to lower cholesterol and blood glucose and, together with avenanthramides, has many health benefits for infants and adults.
Benefits of Oats and Oatmeal
Let’s look in more detail at why you should eat oatmeal regularly if you want to lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health, and strengthen your immune system.
Including Oatmeal in Your Diet Helps Lose Weight
Oatmeal is a bland food that is easy to digest and is good for weight loss as part of a healthy diet.
One of the ways that oatmeal is good for losing weight is that its high fiber content reduces appetite. One randomized crossover trial involving 48 adults found that eating oatmeal for breakfast increased feelings of satiety. The reason for the appetite-reducing effect of oatmeal was attributed to its B-glucan content. (11) B-glucan is a type of soluble dietary fiber.
Another controlled trial found that eating 100 g of oats a day helped people with diabetes to lose weight. Researchers noted that people who regularly consumed meals with oatmeal had better results when trying to lose weight.
The results from other studies have suggested that the oat compound B-glucan could help to manage many complications of obesity.
Contrary to popular belief, oatmeal doesn’t make you fat. Oatmeal porridge made from rolled oats contains healthy fiber, minerals, and amino acids. Some of the reasons why some people think oatmeal makes you gain weight are due to adding calorie-laden toppings.
For example, ½ a cup of instant oats cooked in water only contains 80 calories and 4 grams of fat. This serving of oatmeal will also give you about 4 grams of fiber which will help improve your digestive health and help you feel full.
Oats and Oatmeal Have Many Benefits for Your Heart
Eating a bowl of nutritious oatmeal regularly will help to improve your cardiovascular health and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Researchers have found that oats have plenty of antioxidants and phytochemicals that are good for your heart. Consuming oats has many cardiovascular benefits as well as other benefits to your health.
For example, a 2016 study involving nearly 55,000 persons found that consuming whole grains such as oats help to lower your risk of a heart attack. The study found that oatmeal especially helped reduce the risk of men having a myocardial infarction.
The British Journal of Nutrition reported in 2014 that oats help reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Some of the studies showed that oat consumption causes a decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Oats are one of the heart-healthy foods that are part of the cardiac diet.
Oats help lower blood pressure
One of the ways that oatmeal helps to reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease is by helping to treat hypertension.
One pilot study involving 18 persons with high blood pressure found that adding oats to the diet had a beneficial effect. Consuming oat cereal meals helped to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings by 7.5 mmHg and 5.5 mmHg respectively.
To find out what else you can do if you have hypertension, please read my article on the best home remedies for high blood pressure.
Oatmeal helps prevent plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis)
Eating oats everyday improves your cardiovascular health because it can prevent clogged arteries (atherosclerosis).
Researchers have found that the oat compounds avenanthramides help improve your arterial health. Oats can help to prevent atherosclerosis which can lower your risk of a heart attack, stroke, or other forms of heart disease.
Oatmeal and Oats Help Lower Cholesterol
Having an oatmeal breakfast can help to reduce cholesterol levels in your blood and improve your heart health.
A meta-analysis of 28 trials on the effects of oats on cholesterol found that oat B-glucan has many benefits. Consuming oatmeal helped to reduce LDL cholesterol, which is the type of cholesterol associated with heart disease.
The results of many studies have shown that eating oatmeal every day can help to lower cholesterol by between 5 and 7%. Many countries including the US and the United Kingdom have approved oat B-glucan to be marketed as having cholesterol-lowering effects.
One study found that the cooking method of oats can affect the effectiveness of reducing cholesterol. Boiling oatmeal was better for lowering cholesterol than letting raw oats steep in hot water.
You can find out about more natural ingredients that help to prevent your risk of heart disease because they lower cholesterol.
Oatmeal Helps Strengthen Your Immune System
Adding oatmeal to your diet can also help lower your risk of infection and chronic diseases.
The reason why oatmeal is good for your immunity is due to B-glucans. Researchers have found that B-glucans in oats help to activate immune function and help prevent infection.
Other studies have shown that B-glucans help to stimulate the activity of natural killer cells. Scientists are even exploring ways to use B-glucans in conjunction with chemotherapy to treat cancer.
Trials involving animal subjects have found that oat B-glucans help to prevent respiratory infections. This means that consuming oats boost your immune system and may help prevent viral infections.
Oatmeal is Gluten Free
Oats are a gluten-free grain that you can enjoy if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. However in many cases the same equipment and facilities are used to harvest and process oats and other gluten containing grains, such as wheat and barley, which can cause a cross-contamination.
For example, one study found that 8 out of 12 types of pure oat products actually contained traces of wheat or barley.
Therefore, if you have to follow a strict gluten-free diet, you should look for oats grown in a gluten-free environment or processed in a way that avoids any cross-contamination.
The journal Nutrients found that people with celiac disease can include oat-based meals in their diet. One study found that consuming up to 100 grams of oats daily over an 8-year period shown no symptoms of digestive upset.
Some dietitians recommend that people with celiac disease add oatmeal to the diet to help increase fiber, mineral, and vitamin B6 intake.
You can also enjoy other protein-rich grains on a gluten-free diet. For example, quinoacontains all the essential amino acids you need without any gluten.
Learn more about symptoms of having gluten sensitivity and what you can do about it.
Oats Promote Good Digestive Health
Eating a bowl of healthy oatmeal for breakfast can help to keep your digestion working well.
The high fiber content of oatmeal means that it can help to prevent problems associated with constipation and hard stool. Oat bran is a natural laxative that can help to increase the frequency and consistency of stool.
Some studies have shown that oat bran is good for relieving constipation in elderly patients.
Researchers have also found that eating oats can help people manage chronic digestive conditions. For example, oat consumption can help to reduce symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis.
Learn about why you have an upset stomach and what you can do about it. You can also try some natural laxatives to help get your bowels moving properly.
Oatmeal Benefits Your Skin and Helps Reduce Itching
Eating an oat porridge is a great way to help stay healthy; however, oatmeal is also good for putting on your skin.
According to the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, colloidal oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties that treat skin rashes, burns, itching, and dermatitis. Colloidal oatmeal is oats that have been ground into a fine powder and mixed with water.
The reason why oatmeal is so good for your skin is that avenanthramides and antioxidants in the cereal grain reduce inflammation and irritation.
Oatmeal is a natural skin moisturizer
Oats also have natural moisturizing and cleansing qualities that help to provide a protective barrier on your skin.
Studies into colloidal oatmeal have shown that you can apply oatmeal to your skin to moisturize it and keep it hydrated. Oat B-glucans are responsible for the hydrating effect of oatmeal.
You can also add oatmeal to your bath to help improve the health and appearance of your skin.
To make your own soothing oatmeal bath, take 1-2 cups of ground oatmeal and put them into an old pair of clean pantyhose and tie loosely. Fill a bath with warm water making sure that the oatmeal sock is under the faucet and the water flows through it. Squeeze the sock occasionally to get more of the oat liquid out. Soak in the tub for 15-20 minutes and during this time dab the oat sock onto patches of skin where you have skin irritation.
Use oatmeal for treating eczema
The healing power of oats also helps to repair patches of dry, cracked, and inflamed skin caused by eczema.
Researchers have found that oatmeal anti-inflammatory properties help treat signs of atopic dermatitis. Applying colloidal oatmeal preparations help to soothe itching and prevent secondary infections from scratching.
A 2017 study found that oatmeal cream helps to treat mild to moderate eczema. Oatmeal helped to repair the skin’s natural defense barrier and reduce the severity of itching.
Consuming Oatmeal May Help Protect Against Colorectal Cancer
Eating oatmeal everyday helps to keep your digestion in good order and cleanse your colon. This means that oatmeal can protect against the development of cancer in the colon.
The British Journal of Nutrition reports that oats help protect the bowels from disease. A diet rich in whole-grain foods such as oatmeal can have a protective effect against colorectal cancer.
Other studies have identified that oat B-glucan has anticancer properties. Scientists have found that extracts from oats can help kill off cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
Although there is no one specific food that stops cancer developing, foods on the anti-cancer diet can help to lower your risk of the disease.