Oats and oatmeal is one of the most popular breakfast cereals because of the many health benefits. Many studies suggest that oats are the healthiest grains on earth.
Oat is a cereal (grain) from a plant by the same name. Oatmeal is flour made from hulled oat grains. The grains are either milled, rolled, or steel-cut.
Oatmeal is the most popular way of taking oats. Primarily a porridge, oatmeal is prepared by mixing rolled, milled, or steel-cut oats and water or milk. Like porridge, you have to bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer until the oats are soft (edible).
Alternatively, you can use instant oats or quick oats, which do not require a lot of time to prepare.
However, instant oats are less nutritious as they are heavily processed and contain too much sugar. The following are the oats and oatmeal benefits.
1. Oats are nutritious
Oats have important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This study found the following compounds in half a cup of oats:
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B1
- And, small amounts of potassium, calcium, vitamin B3, and vitamin B6.
Additionally, oats have more proteins than other grains.
2. Rich in antioxidants
Oats have a high level of antioxidants, especially avenanthramides. Avenanthramides are a type of antioxidant that’s almost exclusive to oats.
These antioxidants improve blood flow, lower blood pressure by producing nitric acid, and reduce inflammation.
3. Help lower blood sugar
Lower blood sugar is one of many oats and oatmeal health benefits. Oats can help with the management of type 2 diabetes, which is characterized by high blood sugar. People with this type of diabetes have low insulin sensitivity.
Scientists attribute these benefits to beta-glucan. This soluble fiber forms a gel-like layer that delays digestion and consequently the absorption of sugar.
4. Can help with weight loss
Oats and its variations, such as oatmeal, are very filling foods. Foods that leave you full for longer make you eat fewer calories, and thereby lose weight.
Beta-glucan delays the digestion of food, thus controlling appetite. Also, this compound improves the release of peptide YY, the satiety hormone. Increased PYY reduces food intake and prevents obesity.
5. Reduce the risk of cardiac health
Oatmeal and oat bran reduces the risk of heart disease, according to this study. Oats improve cardiovascular health by decreasing cholesterol. The fiber in oats is more effective in lowering cholesterol than the fiber in wheat.
Oats have avenanthramides and phenolic acids. Research suggests that these antioxidants prevent LDL oxidation with the help of vitamin C. LDL oxidation is a significant risk factor of heart disease.
Additionally, oats are rich in vitamin E, a nutrient that improves heart health.
6. Improve skin health
Oats improve your skin in the following ways:
- Improve complexion
- Help fight acne
- Act as a natural cleanser
This study examined colloidal oatmeal closely and found out that it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help with the itching associated with dry skin. Instead of colloidal oatmeal, some people use oatmeal baths.
You can also use oatmeal as a scrub to remove the excess skin oil and dead cells that cause acne. Besides, oats contain zinc, which decreases inflammation and fights bacteria that cause acne.
Oats are also natural skin cleaners as they contain saponins, which remove oil and dirt from the skin pores.
7. Promotes immunity
Beta-glucan is the aspect of oats that improves immunity. White blood cells have special receptors that absorb beta-glucan.
The absorption increases the white blood cell activity, which improves immunity. Besides, oats have zinc and selenium, minerals that help fight certain infections.
Additionally, according to research, beta-glucan enhances neutrophils, macrophages, and other killer cells making them effective in fighting pathogens.
Plus, beta-glucan helps improve immunity in individuals undergoing radiation treatment and chemotherapy, according to this study.
8. Help with constipation
As a fiber-rich food, oatmeal can help relieve constipation. Oats treat constipation by increasing stool weight. Plus, their insoluble fiber improves gut health. Good gut health prevents constipation.
Oats help prevents colorectal cancer. Plus, oat bran not only increases stool weight but also increases the bioavailability of B12 in the elderly.
9. Enhance the quality of sleep
Having trouble sleeping? Research shows that oatmeal is one of the “sleep better” foods. Oats have amino acids that increase the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Stress is a factor in sleeplessness. Oats have vitamin B6 which reduces stress. Additionally, oats have carbs that promote the production of serotonin, a hormone that also reduces stress.
10. Lower bad cholesterol
One of the many oats and oatmeal health benefits is the impact on cholesterol. I’ll explain. LDL (read bad cholesterol) is one of the major risk factors of heart disease. Studies suggest that beta-glucan fiber, which is abundant in oats, reduces LDL levels.
Beta-glucan increases the production of cholesterol-rich bile, which reduces blood cholesterol levels. Additionally, science shows that the antioxidants and vitamin C in oats collectively work in reducing LDL.
11. Promote bone health
Oats contain several minerals that improve bone health.
Oats are especially rich in silicon, a mineral that helps with the formation and maintenance of bones. In fact, silicon help in the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.