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What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Instant Oats

This convenient breakfast could be doing more for your health than you realize.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino
Instant oatmeal

Instant oats are a staple in many people's breakfast routines, and it's not hard to see why: they're inexpensive, take seconds to prepare, and it's easy to make them taste like a gourmet meal with healthy additions like spices, fruits, and nuts.

However, it's not just how tasty instant oats can be that make them a great addition to your day—their health benefits are nothing to sneeze at, either. And although you'll often hear that less processed versions of oats, like steel-cut or rolled, are better for you than the instant kind, that doesn't mean this quick-cooking cereal is lacking its own superpowers. At the end of the day, the nutrients in all types of oats are virtually the same regardless of the type—the biggest difference is that instant oats are marginally lower in fiber.

Read on to discover the side effects of eating instant oats. And for more easy ways to improve your diet, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

1

You'll stay full for longer.

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If you find yourself getting peckish between meals, try replacing your usual breakfast with a bowl of instant oatmeal.

"Instant oats, among many other oat forms, are great for satiety," says Mary Wirtz, MS, RDN, CSSD, a nutritional consultant at Mom Loves Best.

According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers found that individuals who ate instant oats for breakfast had greater fullness, reduced hunger, and less desire to eat, and consumed fewer calories at lunch than those who ate oat-based breakfast cereal.

However, Wirtz cautions against eating sweetened varieties of instant oats, which can cause a blood sugar spike and lead to hunger pangs later on. To see exactly what to watch for, check out 24 Best and Worst Instant Oatmeals.

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2

You may reduce your heart disease risk.

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Want to make your heart healthier? Try adding some instant oats to your morning routine.

Wirtz says that oats are "great for helping to prevent heart disease." In fact, a 2019 study published in Scientific Reports found that consumption of oats was associated with reductions in LDL, or "bad," cholesterol, and reductions in inflammatory markers that might contribute to a person's risk of heart disease. And if you want to further reduce your cardiovascular disease risk, check out The Common Foods That Raise Your Heart Attack Risk.

3

You may experience a short-term increase in energy.

Happy relaxed young woman sitting in her kitchen with a laptop in front of her stretching her arms above her head and looking out of the window with a smile
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Instead of reaching for an energy drink when you need a boost, reach for some oatmeal.

"One serving of instant oats provides about 18 grams of carbohydrates, which provides fast energy for your brain, muscles, and overall health," says Grace Goodwin Dwyer, RD, a dietitian at Naked Nutrition. And for more ways to perk up in a hurry, check out the 30 Best Foods That Give You All-Day Energy.

4

Your digestion may become more regular.

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Supplements aren't the only way to improve the regularity of your digestion—instant oatmeal is a great way to reduce bloating and give your gut health a boost.

"Instant oats are a good source of dietary fiber, and eating them helps support normal bowel movements. Oats contain both insoluble fiber, which helps bulk up your stool, and soluble fiber, which helps soften stool, to make it easier to go," explains Goodwin Dwyer.

A 2015 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found evidence that oats also have prebiotic properties, meaning they can feed the good bacteria in your gut, and levels of inflammatory markers were "markedly reduced" among some study subjects who ate oatmeal. And for more simple ways to improve your digestion, check out these 20 Easy Ways to Add Fiber to Your Diet.