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Health Benefits of the Humble Oat

By Donna Stark

Oatmeal has always been one of my favorite breakfast dishes. Well, at least since my early 20s it has. Growing up and through college, my mornings typically consisted of bowls and bowls of cold cereal. Not the best choice I must admit, but I am happy to say that with age, I have become wiser with my food choices. And now, oatmeal is definitely my preferred choice of breakfast. I have to give a lot of respect to the humble bowl of oats because it was truly the catapult I needed to start eating healthier. It’s easy. It’s versatile. It’s really quite delicious. But most importantly, it is packed with tons of health benefits that you simply can’t ignore. Well, you could, but why would you want to?

Humble but Mighty

Millions of people wake up and start their day with oatmeal, and for good reason. For years, studies have shown us the benefits that oats have on digestive and cardiovascular health, and diabetes management. Take a look.

  • Digestive health - Oatmeal improves bowel health, promotes a healthy gastrointestinal tract, and aids in nutrient absorption
  • Cardiovascular Health - Oats can help reduce cholesterol and is a great way to decrease the risk of heart disease
  • Diabetes - Oatmeal delays sugar absorption, which helps to keep your blood glucose at a more stable level and easier to manage

Types of Oats

There are a couple of different types of oats that you can purchase (and I am purposely avoiding the type that comes in little bags with secret, sugary surprises to look for). But before we look at them, let’s start at the beginning. All oats begin their journey as groats. This is the whole, unbroken grain which is usually roasted before being processed into any other variety of oat. For now, we are going to look at steel-cut, rolled, and instant oats. The difference between these is simply how much processing has taken place.

  • Steel cut oats - Also called Irish Oats, these are made by chopping the groat into pieces. These have more of a nuttier flavor than the others and are thicker and chewier.
  • Rolled oats - You may know these as old-fashioned oats. These are made by steaming them first and then pressing them afterward. They cook faster than steel cut oats and are often what you see in cookies and granola bars.
  • Instant oats - Known as quick oats, these are the most processed. They are pre-cooked, dried, and pressed flatter than rolled oats. They cook faster but retain less of their shape and texture.

Tired of the Bowl? Don’t Worry!

You may get tired of eating the same bowl of oatmeal every morning, but don’t let that keep you from reaping all of the health benefits from oats. From smoothies to bars to yogurt topping, oats can be added to your diet quite easily. You just need to be a little creative!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Denton, Tex.

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