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The #1 Best Carb to Eat, Says Dietitian

This one delicious, filling food could be the key to better health, experts say.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

As low-carb and ketogenic diets continue to increase in popularity, carbohydrates are getting an increasingly bad rap. And while it's true that some carbs—we're looking at you, refined sugar and white flour—may not be doing much for your overall wellbeing, that doesn't mean you have to cut carbohydrates out of your diet entirely in a bid for better health.

According to Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements, there's one clear standout when it comes to the best carb for your health: oatmeal.

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"Oatmeal is a whole grain carbohydrate full of fiber, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. It also provides the consumer with a moderate amount of protein while being low in fat. These nutrient qualities make oatmeal a carbohydrate that is actually beneficial for health," says Best.

"The vitamins and minerals boost the nutrient density of this carb versus others, and it's a great way to get in minerals that are commonly lacking in processed foods," Best adds.

What are the health benefits of eating oatmeal?

If you want to boost your whole-body wellness, oatmeal is a great choice, improving everything from your gut health to your cardiovascular wellness.

"The fiber helps to reduce cholesterol and keep the good gut bacteria fed and in balance," explains Best.

Additionally, Best notes that oatmeal can improve heart health. In fact, a 2012 study published in Nutrition Journal found that, among a group of adults with high cholesterol, oat consumption for six weeks reduced LDL or "bad" cholesterol, improved waist-to-hip ratio, and did not significantly affect HDL, or "good" cholesterol, which decreased among members of a control group.

"Instant oatmeal consumed daily for 6 weeks significantly increased fiber intake and decreased major risk factors for [cardiovascular disease]," the study's authors explained.

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Can oatmeal increase weight loss?

If you're looking for a great addition to your weight loss plan, oatmeal is a great choice.

"Oatmeal is known to stabilize blood sugar and aid in weight loss by keeping the consumer full for longer post-meal," explains Best.

According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, study subjects who ate oatmeal experienced greater satiety and reduced their overall caloric intake as compared to a group who ate a calorically similar portion of oat-based breakfast cereal.

What kind of oatmeal should I avoid?

oatmeal fruits seeds

While plain oatmeal can be a healthy choice for your diet, not every type of oatmeal at your local grocery store is created equal when it comes to your health.

"It is important to note that some prepackaged, flavored oatmeal includes added sugar, artificial colors, and fillers that lower its health quality," says Best. "When opting for oats, it is best to use unflavored oats and add your own toppings and mix-ins like nuts, fruit, and natural sweeteners."

For some ideas for what to add to your oatmeal, try these 11 Healthy Oatmeal Toppings That Help You Lose Weight, and for the latest healthy eating news delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah