10 Health Benefits of Oatmeal You Need to Know
Oatmeal is an incredibly versatile ingredient that is packed with numerous health benefits, making it a great choice for anyone looking to improve their overall health and wellness. Whether you’re looking for a filling breakfast to start your day off right or an easy way to incorporate more essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber into your diet, oatmeal is a great choice.
So, what is oatmeal, exactly?
Oatmeal is a porridge made from milled steel cut or rolled oat grains that have been de-husked, steamed, and rolled into flat flakes to improve texture and fasten cooking time. There are three main categories of oatmeal: rolled oats, steel cut oats, and ground oats. All three categories offer almost the same benefits, with steel cut oats being slightly healthier than rolled oats since they are less processed.
Now, let’s dive into the 10 amazing health benefits of oatmeal:
Promotes weight loss:
The high fiber content in oatmeal has been shown to slow digestion, regulate energy levels, and keep you feeling full for hours. This helps prevent overeating, unnecessary snacking, and ultimately leads to weight loss. In one study, daily consumption of oatmeal increased satiety, suppressed appetite, and reduced energy intake more than a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. Just be sure to avoid sugary toppings or instant oats, which are loaded with sugar and preservatives, in order to fully reap the benefits.
High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for heart disease, but regular consumption of oatmeal may help improve your levels. Oatmeal contains a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan, which increases the elimination of cholesterol-rich bile from the body. A 2014 meta-analysis involving 28 controlled trials found that consuming at least three milligrams of beta-glucan in the diet reduces total cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) without any change in HDL (high-density lipoprotein). Another study found that combining beta-glucan with vitamin C was shown to prevent LDL oxidation, which increases the progression of heart disease. To benefit from this combination, always include fruits in your oatmeal.
Regulates blood sugar:
The high fiber content in oatmeal slows digestion and allows for a slow and steady release of glucose into the blood, helping to maintain normal glucose levels and prevent glucose spikes associated with processed carbohydrates. Oats have also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Rich in antioxidants:
Oatmeal is rich in antioxidants, including phytic acid, vitamin E, phenolic compounds, and avenanthromides, which fight inflammation, prevent itching, and improve blood flow. These antioxidants also neutralize free radicals in the body that may cause oxidative stress, causing cell damage that may lead to chronic diseases.
Improves bowel movements:
Fiber is a key component in a healthy digestive system, and the fact that it moves through the gut undigested means it adds bulk in stools, which prevents constipation and aids regularity. In one review, increasing dietary fiber intake improved stool frequency and consistency and relieved painful defecation in individuals with constipation.
May improve skin:
Oatmeal-based skin products create a healthy skin microbiome that protects against harmful UV rays and harmful bacteria. They also restore dry skin, reduce irritation, fight inflammation, improve appearance, and fight skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and eczema.
Reduces blood pressure:
Elevated blood pressure significantly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, but including oatmeal in a heart-healthy diet may help improve your levels and lower your risk for complications.
Lowers the Risk of Colon Cancer
The brain and germ in oats are rich in Vitamin E, copper, selenium, and zinc, all of which are anti-carcinogenic compounds. Additionally, oatmeal is high in dietary fiber. According to research, the high fiber content in whole grains helps reduce insulin resistance, one of the main causes of colon cancer.
Boosts the Immune System
The beta glucan in oatmeal stimulates the functioning of white blood cells, helping fight infections in the body and boosting the immune system. It also enhances the activities of other immune cells like neutrophils, macrophages, and natural killer cells, which help get rid of parasites, bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The presence of selenium and zinc in oatmeal also helps fight infections.
Promotes Better Sleep
Most people have oatmeal in the morning, but having a bowl in the evening may help you sleep better. Oatmeal contains tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to make melatonin, a sleep hormone that regulates your body’s sleep-wake cycle. When it’s dark, more melatonin is produced to signal your body to prepare for sleep. On the other hand, light decreases the production of melatonin, signaling your body to be awake. Oatmeal also contains magnesium and calcium, which have been shown to promote good quality sleep.
FAQs About the Amazing Health Benefits of Oatmeal
- Is oatmeal gluten-free?
Not all oatmeal is gluten-free, but many brands offer gluten-free options. It’s important to check the label and make sure the oatmeal you choose is certified gluten-free if you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity.
- How can I include oatmeal in my diet?
Oatmeal is a versatile food that can be included in a variety of ways in your diet. Some popular ways to include oatmeal in your diet include:
- Adding it to smoothies
- Using it as a base for baked goods
- Eating it as a hot breakfast cereal
- Using it as a substitute for breadcrumbs in meatloaf or meatballs
- How much oatmeal should I eat per day?
It’s recommended to aim for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving of oatmeal. This equates to about 1/2 cup of uncooked oats. You can enjoy up to 1.5 cups of cooked oatmeal per day, depending
on your calorie needs and dietary restrictions. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best amount of oatmeal for you.
- Is oatmeal healthy for diabetics?
Oatmeal can be a healthy option for diabetics, as it has a low glycemic index and can help to regulate blood sugar levels. However, it’s important to pay attention to portion sizes and combine oatmeal with protein and healthy fats to help balance blood sugar levels. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before making any dietary changes if you have diabetes.
In conclusion, oatmeal is a nutritious and versatile food that can provide many health benefits. However, it’s important to choose plain, unprocessed oatmeal as it is often free of additives and preservatives. Start incorporating oatmeal into your