Is oatmeal good for you?
YES! Oatmeal is generally considered to be a superfood, packed with fiber and nutrients that can:
- Reduce cholesterol
- Maintain digestive health
- Help keep blood sugar low
My personal experience with oatmeal is what inspired me to make a website entirely dedicated to the health benefits of oatmeal, and how to make oatmeal.
Let’s start with what is commonly found on an oatmeal package’s nutrition label. All forms of oats are derived from the oat groat, so the label information is generally the same, whether the oatmeal is in the form of rolled oats, steel cut oats, etc. The following information is from my favorite oatmeal, Bob’s Red Mill Organic Steel Cut Oats.
|Serving Size||1/4 cup (44g)|
|Per Serving||% Daily Value|
|Calories from Fat||25|
|Total Fat||3 g||5 %|
|Saturated Fat||0.5 g||3 %|
|Trans Fat||0 g||0 %|
|Cholesterol||0 g||0 %|
|Sodium||0 g||0 %|
|Total Carbohydrate||29 g||10 %|
|Dietary Fiber||5 g||20 %|
|Soluble Fiber||1.6 g|
|Insoluble Fiber||3.4 g|
|Protein||7 g||14 %|
|* Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.|
Some key points to add to the information in the table…
Do oats have gluten?
Oats are naturally free of gluten, so they are generally tolerated well by most people. (Note: Due to farming and packaging processes, the potential for gluten cross-contamination exists, so look for a “gluten-free” oatmeal if your diet requires it.)
Oatmeal itself is not a high-calorie food, containing only 170 calories for a 44g serving. Some of the popular flavored oatmeals are loaded with sugar, yet the calories per serving stays roughly the same. The only way this can be true is if the amount of actual oatmeal is significantly reduced!
Oatmeal is loaded with healthy complex carbohydrates, as opposed to sugary simple carbohydrates. Complex carbs, consisting of starch (for energy) and fiber (for digestion and reducing cholesterol), require longer to digest, so that “full” feeling from eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast will last longer.
The importance of oatmeal type
While the various forms of oatmeal (steel cut oats, rolled oats, etc.) technically have the same nutrients, there is a key difference between the forms that must be considered. Refined forms of oatmeal significantly reduce the health benefits of oatmeal in its original form. That is, rolled oats are not as healthy as steel cut oats!
Rolled oats and other processed forms (instant oats, quick cooking oats, etc) are much quicker to digest. As a result, they rate higher on the glycemic index, meaning they are not nearly as effective at maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
The bottom line is that steel cut oats are absolutely the healthiest form of oatmeal available! Any type of rolled oats, instant oats, or quick-cooking oats are all processed to the point that they no longer offer the health benefits that raw oats can provide.