6 science-backed benefits of oatmeal and how to make it nutritious and delicious

Credit: insider.com

  • Health benefits of oatmeal include managing blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and weight. 
  • Most oatmeal is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan, making it a great breakfast option for most. 
  • To make oatmeal, microwave 1/2 cup of oats with 1 cup of water for two minutes and top with fruit.

Oatmeal is a grain-based porridge that’s a popular breakfast option thanks to its multiple health benefits. Plus, almost anyone can eat it — it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. 

Here are six reasons why you should rotate oatmeal into your breakfast routine and a step-by-step guide on the best way to make it.

1. Boasts an impressive nutrient profile 

Oatmeal contains an impressive amount of vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. Unlike simple carbs, complex carbohydrates contain more starch and fiber than sugar. This means it takes longer for your body to break down complex carbohydrates, keeping you energized for a longer period of time. 

Moreover, complex “carbs offer important nutrients, so it’s important not to be afraid of them, especially whole foods like oats,” says Abby Langer, a registered dietitian and owner of Abby Langer Nutrition.

Here are the nutrient facts for a half-cup of whole-grain rolled oats.

NutrientAmountDaily value (based on a 2,000 calorie diet0 
Protein5 grams (g)16%
Carbs27 g10%
Sugar0 g0%
Fats2.5 g3%
Fiber4 g14%
Calcium20 milligrams (mg)2% 
Iron1.7 mg20% for men and 11% for women
Potassium140 mg4%

2. Improves cholesterol levels

High cholesterol can put you at risk for serious health conditions like heart attacks or strokes. 

Eating oats can help improve cholesterol levels thanks to a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan. Consuming 3 grams of beta-glucan daily, or about one cup of cooked oatmeal, has shown to reduce LDL cholesterol — also known as the bad type of cholesterol — in both people with normal cholesterol levels and high cholesterol levels. 

3. Controls blood sugar

Oatmeal is high in fiber, which means your body digests it more slowly. This, in turn, can help keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent any spikes or crashes that can leave you feeling tired, irritable, and hungry shortly afterward.

Moreover, if you’re consistently eating simple carbs that spike and crash your blood sugar levels, it can take a toll on your health and may cause diabetes , weight gain, and heart disease long-term. 

A 2015 review of 16 studies revealed that oatmeal tends to improve blood sugar stability in patients with type 2 diabetes.

4. Helps with weight loss

The high-fiber content of oatmeal can also help you feel fuller for longer, which may assist in weight loss

“This could help prevent frequent snacking, allowing you to go about your day without thinking of food and feeling hungry so often,” says Colleen Christensen, a registered dietitian, and nutritionist with her own private practice. 

Although several studies have found the beta-glucan fiber in oats can increase satiety, other studies have not consistently found oatmeal helps you lose substantial amounts of weight. That’s why it’s always important to pair oatmeal with a healthy diet and exercise. 

5. Eases constipation

Oatmeal is high in a specific type of fiber, called soluble fiber, which helps food move through your intestines making stool softer and easier to pass, thereby easing constipation. Soluble fiber can also help those with loose stools by absorbing excess liquid in the intestine. 

However, it’s important to eat minimally-processed oats because oats that come with added sugars and different flavors contain significantly less fiber. For example, one serving of Quaker Strawberries and Cream Instant Oatmeal contains 2 grams of fiber compared to a serving of Quaker’s Old Fashioned Oats, which has double the fiber at 4 grams.

6. Soothes skin 

Oatmeal, specifically colloidal oatmeal, can also help relieve itchy or irritated skin. Colloidal oatmeal is oatmeal that has been ground into a fine powder that can be added to water, lotions, or soap and applied topically. 

Oatmeal acts as an emollient, meaning it forms a thin layer on the outside of the skin, thereby trapping in moisture. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which helps it treat conditions like: 

  • Atopic and contact dermatitis, which cause skin inflammation and dryness
  • Chickenpox
  • Bug bites
  • Rashes

In fact, a 2015 study found that eczema cream that contained colloidal oatmeal worked better than a standard moisturizer at repairing skin damaged by atopic dermatitis.

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