A Fitness Fans Guide to the Benefits of Eating Oats
Oats are one of the healthiest grains on earth. The most popular version of oats is oatmeal which is most frequently eaten in the form of porridge.
Oats are a whole grain, gluten free* and a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Best of all is that they’re affordable, readily available and can be consumed in various ways to keep your diet varied and interesting.
Oats are incredibly nutritious and have many many health benefits including lowering cholesterol, controlling weight, reducing blood pressure, and stabilising blood sugar .
*Some oats are produced in the same factories as other grains, leading to cross contamination risks. So always check the label.
Oats Are a Source of Antioxidants
Oats are absolutely jam packed with antioxidants known as avenanthramides, which are unique to oats. Getting antioxidants in our system is super-important. They protect your cells, which reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease. They also stop the hardening of arteries.
This is only one of many health benefits of oats. Others include regulation of blood-sugar levels (via Beta-Glucans), and the fact that they are a super-rich source of dietary fibre. This helps with digestion. Oats also help us feel full, which can help prevent snacking later in the day. An important factor that many people overlook is that when you have a healthy oat snack, you are not eating bad foods like sugary snacks!
Oats Come in Many Shapes and Sizes
Like most things in life oats come in many shapes and sizes. The most common are instant oats, which many of us will have for breakfast. As well as instant oats they are oat bran, rolled oats, steel cut oats, oat groats and many others.
Steel cut oats are perhaps the best for you. Reason being is that steel cut oats are loaded with more protein, fibre and iron. They take longer to digest and leave you feeling fuller for longer.
How to Get Your Oats?
I’m going to go ahead and assume that most of you have had porridge before, have some idea that they’re good for you, but also never really eat the stuff anywhere near enough.
Let’s face it, like many foods that are really good for you, they’re not incredible tasty or exciting. Try some of the ideas below to try and make oats a little more fun and appetising.
In case you have been living under a rock and never tried porridge then I will tell you how to make a quick batch on the morning, give it a try and see what you think:
- Start with ½ cup of rolled oats
- 250 ml of Water (can substitute water with milk if you prefer)
- Pinch of salt
Simply combine all the ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil, once boiling simply reduce the heat and simmer the oats until cooked. Stir occasionally and you’re looking for the oats to expand slightly and become nice and soft.
It really is that simple. If they’re a little bland try adding some fruit, nuts or even cinnamon to make things a little more interesting.
When you see instant porridge in a supermarket, check out the ingredients. Many brands have added sugar, salt or other chemicals. Make sure you are not accidentally loading yourself (or your family) with the poison which is high levels of added sugar.
If you are more of a toast person for breakfast then you can switch your regular bread for oat bread. This stuff is great toasted and once again fruits, in particular blueberries should be added for extra taste.
The oats mean this breakfast really will keep hunger at bay, great for those of you looking to cut out mid morning sugary snacks.
This is more commonly known as muesli, but the store bought kind is usually full of sugar and unwanted carbs. Ditch store bought and make your own. It really couldn’t be simpler.
Muesli is literally raw oats mixed with fruit and nuts. Whenever you’re bored simply change up what fruits and nuts you need. This is a sure fire way to increase the fibre in your diet as well as making the most of all the nutritional value in different fruits and nuts.
Oats Treat Time!
Ever sick of eating super healthy all the time? I know I am. If you work hard in your home gym and watch what you eat you are allowed to have the occasional treat. If you can combine your treats with also getting in some oats you will still get a lot of benefits and feel a lot less guilty about your cheat day.
My favourite oat filled treats are cookies and chocolate oat bars. The peanut butter cookies are to die for and the no bake chocolate bars are amazing when you need that chocolate fix.
Obviously don’t overdo it on the treats but they’re are fine from time to time and the fact they’re full of oats means you still get all of the excellent nutritious health benefits.
What should be clear from this article is just how easy it is to mix it up when it comes to eating oats. They go with pretty much anything and everything, so just have a play around and find something you love.
More Food Guides with a Fitness Focus:
- Fitness Fans Guide to Fat
- Sugar: 5 Substitutes
- Intro to the Ketogenic Diet
- Meat Substitutes for Fitness Fans
- Future Food Guide
- Excess Sugar in Orange Juice
- Banana Fitness Guide
Are Oats Gluten Free?
A common question is whether oats contain gluten – the protein found in wheat, barley and rye that is behind allergic reactions and intolerance in many people.
There is no gluten in oats, though people with celiac (coeliac) disease regularly avoid them. This is because the same processing plants that are used for wheat are also used for oats. The risk is that some flour gets mixed in accidentally. Since it only takes a tiny amount of flour to trigger severe allergic reactions – people avoid them. You will see oats marked as ‘gluten free’ in shops. This designates that care has been taken at the processing plant.
For brands that use oats in cereals, you need to check the labels individually. Wheat flour is a common addition.