Oats are a powerful whole grain. When consumed in their closest to whole form (rolled oats or steel-cut oats) they are incredibly nutritious. Rich in fiber, plant-based protein, minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and the antioxidant vitamin E, this affordable ingredient should be a staple in the kitchen.
A word to the wise, try to avoid instant oats or oatmeal packs that are flavored and prepared with added sugars. Though faster to prepare and sweeter than plain oats, the extra processing will take away from the nourishing components of whole oats. So get your stove (or your mason jar for overnight oats) ready for a morning of oat-y goodness. Here are five of the most incredible effects of eating oatmeal every day.
Oatmeal can lower LDL cholesterol.
Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber, more specifically, it is rich in a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. One serving of rolled oats contains roughly one to two grams of beta-glucan. Beta-glucan has been shown in research studies to be the active ingredient responsible for oatmeal's LDL cholesterol-lowering effects.
There are multiple ways fiber, especially soluble fiber, affects cholesterol levels. The key takeaway here is that you should aim to consume at least three grams of beta-glucans per day for high cholesterol levels, and oatmeal is a fabulous food source to start with.
Oatmeal can improve insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance occurs when cells are unable to respond to insulin properly which then makes blood glucose regulation difficult. One dietary modification that can help reverse insulin resistance and dysregulated blood sugar levels is to eat slow-absorbing carbohydrates that are rich in fiber.
One serving of rolled oats provides four grams of fiber and one to two of these grams are in the form of beta-glucan. Beta-glucan slows the appearance of glucose in the blood which then slows insulin secretion.
Oatmeal can promote a healthy gut microbiome.
When we consume any food we are not just feeding ourselves, we are feeding the world of bacteria that lives in our gastrointestinal tract. As the host to the bacteria within us (microbiome), we have the ability to choose food that will help proliferate the good bacteria in our guts or the harmful bacteria.
As we have uncovered, oatmeal is rich in fiber however when cooked and then cooled, oatmeal is rich in another form of starch: resistant starch. Though more research is needed, resistant starches may help promote a more diverse and healthy gut microbiome.
In order to get the benefit of resistant starches, enjoy overnight oats as opposed to warm, cooked oats.
Oatmeal can regulate symptoms of IBS.
There is a reason why you may crave carbohydrates when having stomach troubles. Not only are carbohydrates comforting but many of them, especially oats are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber is a stool-bulking agent so if you experience IBS-D eating oats can help with more fully formed bowel movements. On the flip side, for those who struggle with IBS-C, the soluble fiber in oatmeal can help with regularity.
Oatmeal supports brain functioning.
In addition, oats are a good source of magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus—three minerals that are crucial for brain health and may help decrease symptoms of depression. On their own, oats are a slow-burning carbohydrate meaning it takes a while to be digested and absorbed. Otherwise known as complex carbohydrates, foods in this category are the brain's preferred source of energy.