Oatmeal claims to help reduce cholesterol, improve elimination (bowel movements), and overall is normally recognized as a health food. There are many potential benefits of oatmeal with no real dangers (unless someone is allergic of course). One question a consumer may have is about what type of oats are best since there are so many options (rolled, steel cut, quick, thick, etc.)… Let’s begin with information on oatmeal in general.
Are your oats still healthy by the time you’re actually ready to eat them?
One potential concern about oatmeal is what we do to it. For example, oatmeal may be great, but how health-promoting would it be if someone loaded it with brown sugar or fake maple syrup (usually based in corn syrup), butter and cow’s milk? Of course, in this case, the added sugar and hormones from the animal products could potentially outweigh the benefits of the otherwise healthy oatmeal.
Another possible issue is the processing. Milling and steaming doesn’t seem to be any major issue, but more recently (likely for the sake of speed and ease) some companies are even microwaving the oats!1 We know that there are many ill-effects of microwaving food but perhaps one of the most significant is its damage to the mitochondria in the brain.2 The mitochondria is a part of every cell in your body and helps create energy for you (among other things). I would recommend sticking with steel cut or rolled (regular or thick) oats but I would avoid the quick oats. (Especially the quick oats that come in packets with flavorings and sugars added).
Oatmeal is like salad… it can be healthy or total junk. When you’re working hard to make good choices, you don’t want to sabotage your efforts!
For the record, I am pro-oatmeal. It can be a great go-to meal, especially when you’re on the go and need something to pack that doesn’t take time. I almost always have oats in my travel bag that I can “just add water to” if I get stuck in an airport or something like that.
My desire is to help you know the best ways to sweeten, add flavor, and make it more filling or nutritious without overriding the goodness of it. Sweetening with fresh and/or dried fruit is a great option, or perhaps a bit of honey or maple syrup would be much better than brown sugar or fake maple syrup. Adding some flaxseeds, chia seeds, chopped walnuts or pumpkin seeds would be a great way to add some healthy fat without harming the body. If you need extra protein (which most people don’t), you could even add some good quality protein powder… You get the idea— there are many ways to add variety to your oatmeal and keep it healthy.
You don’t have to lose the comfort foods (like oatmeal)… You just need to upgrade them so they’re worthy of your consumption!
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1. Rasane P, Jha A, Sabikhi L, Kumar A, Unnikrishnan VS. Nutritional advantages of oats and opportunities for its processing as value added foods – a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2013. doi:10.1007/s13197-013-1072-1
2. Hao YH, Zhao L, Peng RY. Effects of microwave radiation on brain energy metabolism and related mechanisms. Mil Med Res. 2015. doi:10.1186/s40779-015-0033-6
Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. It does not take the place of a qualified health care practitioner and is intended for educational purposes only.