Oats are among the healthiest grains on earth.
They’re a gluten-free whole grain and a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
Studies show that oats and oatmeal have many health benefits.
These include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of heart disease.
- Oats are incredibly nutritious:
The nutrient composition of oats is well-balanced.
They are a good source of carbs and fiber, including the powerful fiber beta-glucan.
They also contain more protein and fat than most grains.
Oats are loaded with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidant plant compounds. Half a cup (78 grams) of dry oats contains:
- Manganese: 191% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 41% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 34% of the RDI
- Copper: 24% of the RDI
- Iron: 20% of the RDI
- Zinc: 20% of the RDI
- Folate: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 39% of the RDI
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 10% of the RDI
- Smaller amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B3 (niacin)
This is coming with 51 grams of carbs, 13 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 8 grams of fiber, but only 303 calories.
This means that oats are among the most nutrient dense foods you can eat.
2. Whole oats are rich in antioxidants, including avenanthramides:
Whole oats are high in antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols. Most notable is a unique group of antioxidants called avenanthramides, which are almost solely found in oats .
Avenanthramides may help lower blood pressure levels by increasing the production of nitric oxide. This gas molecule helps dilate blood vessels and leads to better blood flow
In addition, avenanthramides have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects
Ferulic acid is also found in large amounts in oats. This is another antioxidant.
3. Oats contain a powerful soluble fiber called beta-glucan:
Oats contain large amounts of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber.
Beta-glucan partially dissolves in water and forms a thick, gel-like solution in the gut.
The health benefits of beta-glucan fiber include:
- Reduced LDL and total cholesterol levels.
- Reduced blood sugar and insulin response.
- Increased feeling of fullness.
- Increased growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract.
4. They can improve cholesterol levels and protect LDL cholesterol from damage:
Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally. One major risk factor is high blood cholesterol.
Many studies have shown that the beta-glucan fiber in oats is effective at reducing both total and LDL cholesterol levels.
Beta-glucan may increase the excretion of cholesterol-rich bile, thereby reducing circulating levels of cholesterol in the blood.
Oxidation of LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol, which occurs when LDL reacts with free radicals, is another crucial step in the progression of heart disease.
It produces inflammation in arteries, damages tissues and can raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
One study reports that antioxidants in oats work together with vitamin C to prevent LDL oxidation.
5. Oats can improve blood sugar control:
Type 2 diabetes is a common disease, characterized by significantly elevated blood sugars. It usually results from decreased sensitivity to the hormone insulin.
Oats may help lower blood sugar levels, especially in people who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes.
They may also improve insulin sensitivity.
These effects are mainly attributed to beta-glucan’s ability to form a thick gel that delays emptying of the stomach and absorption of glucose into the blood.
6. Oatmeal is very filling and may help you lose weight:
Not only is oatmeal (porridge) a delicious breakfast food — it’s also very filling.
Eating filling foods may help you eat fewer calories and lose weight.
By delaying the time it takes your stomach to empty of food, the beta-glucan in oatmeal may increase your feeling of fullness.
Beta-glucan may also promote the release of peptide YY (PYY), a hormone produced in the gut in response to eating. This satiety hormone has been shown to lead to reduced calorie intake and may decrease your risk of obesity.