People love their oatmeal—and for good reason! It's not only delicious, but it has been found to help regulate digestion, improve your gut health, manage your weight, and even help you have better heart health.
Even though oatmeal is already a great breakfast choice for a healthy heart, we wanted to find out how to make it even healthier!
"Oatmeal provides you with soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol when consumed on a regular basis, but there are lots of ways to amp up its heart health value with the toppings you choose," says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook, and a member of our medical expert board.
Here's what our expert dietitians say are the best oatmeal habits for your heart. Then, for more healthy heart tips, check out these 5 Effortless Ways to Lower Cholesterol.
One of the best heart-healthy toppings you can include in your oatmeal are berries like strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries.
"Berries are high in soluble fiber that can help the heart by contributing to lowering total and bad cholesterol," says Goodson. "Berries are also high in antioxidants, which help buffer free radicals (or the bad guys) that can cause damage to cells in the body."
Add some crunch.
Getting enough healthy fats in your diet on a daily basis can be a great way to care for your heart, and if you choose the right ingredients, you'll be able to do this with your morning oatmeal!
"Nuts and seeds are full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have protective benefits on the heart," says Goodson. "Polyunsaturated fats, specifically found in walnuts and seeds like pumpkin, chia, flax, and hemp, help buffer molecules that contribute to inflammation, so you could say they play a role in reducing inflammation in the body. Adding nuts and seeds to your oatmeal adds crunch, added satiety, as well as healthy fat and fiber."
And if you're looking for one of the biggest boosts in healthy fats, try walnuts specifically.
"Walnuts provide an excellent source of ALA (2.5 g/1 oz), a plant-based omega 3 fatty acid," says medical expert Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility. "Recent data published in Advances in Nutrition shows that eating more plant-based omega-3 fatty acids may be one way to combat the risk of developing fatal heart disease."
Turn your oatmeal into energy bites.
Oatmeal is a delicious morning treat, but what if you didn't have to limit your oats to just breakfast?
"Many people only think about oatmeal in the morning, but you can mix things up and eat oatmeal energy bites all day," says Goodson. "Make your energy bites with oats as the base, add your favorite nut butter, honey, protein, or collagen powder, then your favorite add-ins like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, and even dark chocolate chips. Adding heart-healthy ingredients like these can make snack time a win for your heart's health."
Add an egg.
Some people might only associate oatmeal with sweet ingredients, but many people are making their oatmeal savory these days. If you're going to go for savory oatmeal, try throwing an egg on top for added nutrients.
"Eggs are recommended for healthy adults as part of a heart-healthy eating pattern according to the American Heart Association," says Manaker. "Plus, eggs contain many vitamins and minerals for healthy living like choline and iodine, and they are also a complete protein. Endlessly versatile, eggs can be scrambled, boiled, poached, or fried and added on top of savory oatmeal. Or simply stir an egg into your oatmeal as you are cooking them, and you will be enjoying a nutritious breakfast in no time."
Switch up the liquid base.
So this may sound a bit strange at first, but adding some natural orange juice to your oatmeal can help you care for your heart in a delicious way.
"Instead of using just water to make your oatmeal, try a 50/50 mix of water and 100% orange juice," says Manaker. "Adding the orange juice will give the oats a satisfying sweet flavor with no added sugars. Plus, the unique addition will give your oatmeal dish a boost of nutrients that support heart health, like potassium and vitamin C. Orange juice consumption has also been linked to outcomes like reduced LDL cholesterol levels and anti-inflammatory effects, which are both factors that can support heart health."