If you had to suss out the next big foodie trend, you probably wouldn’t visit a hospital cafeteria for gourmet inspiration.
But that’s exactly the origin of uber-trendy overnight oats, an idea born of a Swiss doctor back in 1900 who was looking for an easy way to serve up lots of nutrition to his hospital patients.
The original meal, muesli, roughly translates to “mash-up” and that’s what overnight oats are: a mix of raw oats, soaked overnight in lemon water, milk, or yogurt, and then served, uncooked, with fruits and nuts. Foodies swoon over the creamy, pudding-like consistency; we’re swooning over the weight loss benefits. Grab a spoon and a mason jar, and consider all healthy reasons to make overnight oats a breakfast (or anytime!) staple:
You’ll Feel Fuller and Burn More Fat
Carbs are like online dates. They’re not all bad news; you just have to know what you’re looking for. And raw oats, as they’re one of the best sources of resistant starch, are the Mr. Right of the high-carb breakfast brigade. The weight loss-friendly starch digests verrry slowly and triggers the release of digestive acids shown to suppress the appetite and speed up calorie-burning. In fact, swapping just 5 percent of daily carbohydrates for resistant starch could boost the metabolism by 23 percent, according to one study.
You’ll Avoid a Poor Food Choice
“I was so stressed out that I grabbed something incredibly healthy for breakfast!” Said no one, ever. When time (and your temper) runs short, chances are you’ll go for the donuts. And that’s one more reason to love overnight oats: There’s no room for error, as you’re forced to plan ahead. People who rely on planning, not willpower, consistently make healthier food choices, research suggests. One recent trial showed dieters whose meal plan included just one pre-prepared meal lost four times as much weight than a group who didn’t have the ready-to-eat food.
You’ll Absorb More Nutrients
Wallow in a hot bubble bath and you can almost feel the negative energy seep from your pores. That’s kind of what happens when you prep overnight oats. The process of soaking the whole grains in an acid mixture helps break down phytic acid, an antinutrient that interferes with digestive enzymes and inhibits mineral absorption. Cooking is one way to damage control a phytic faux-pas, but soaking may be even better at easing digestibility, research suggests.
You’ll Get a Bigger Breakfast
Bigger isn’t always better. Unless you’re on a diet, and we’re talking about food volume. Then size is everything because it’s the amount of food that fills us up, not the calories, research suggests. Men consumed 12 percent less of a milkshake that was pumped with air to double in size than when served the same, equal-calorie shake without the added volume. That’s the beauty of overnight oats, which—unlike their cooked counterparts that tend to shrivel in the heat—swell in their slumber, and quadruple in volume.
You’ll Double Your Heart Health
Oat bran has a heart-healthy reputation as a cholesterol fighter. Just 3 grams of oat fiber called beta-glucan has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels by 5 to 10 percent. You’ll need to eat two servings of regular oatmeal daily to reap the benefits. But just one bowl of overnight oats may be equally, if not more effective. That’s because the traditional preparation calls for lemon juice; and the added vitamin C can boost oatmeal‘s ability to lower cholesterol by nearly 60 percent, according to a study.
You’ll Enjoy Carbs Again
Chances are you’ll really enjoy overnight oats. And that’s a good thing. Because the degree to which we enjoy a meal—or not—has huge implications for the amount of nutrients we absorb, research suggests. Thai women fed a traditional Thai dish absorbed twice as much iron than a group of Swedish women fed the same meal, which they reported not enjoying. And when the two groups ate traditional Swedish fare, the Swedes absorbed 50 percent more iron than the Thai women who didn’t care for the meal, according to one study. The more enjoyable your oaty experience, the more zinc, copper, magnesium, biotin and B vitamins you’ll absorb.