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Surprising Side Effects of Eating Oatmeal, According to Science

This breakfast staple packs more in every bowl than you might expect.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Oatmeal has long been heralded as a near-perfect breakfast—a meal that's equal parts healthy and tasty. However, there's a surprising side effect of eating oatmeal that even folks who've been eating it daily for years don't know about.

"One of the biggest things you'll get from oatmeal (including whole-grain goodness and dietary fiber that supports a healthy heart and healthy gut) is feeling full between meals," says Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, RD.

Melendez-Klinger notes that a 2015 study published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism even found that individuals who ate oatmeal for breakfast consumed fewer calories at lunch. That's far from the only benefit you'll get from adding oatmeal to your diet, however; read on to discover what else this beloved breakfast could do for your wellbeing. If you're not sure what to add to your oatmeal, get some inspiration from here: 16 Celebs Share How They Make Oatmeal.

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Oatmeal can improve your athletic performance.

Active senior man exercising on exercise ball in the porch

Want to fuel your next workout? Instead of a protein bar or shake, try a bowl of oatmeal.

"Oats increase your metabolism and can amplify your athletic performance if it's eaten within one hour of exercise," says registered nutritionist Jay Cowin, director of formulations at ASYSTEM.


Oatmeal can boost your heart health.

female holding folded hands on chest

Want your heart to stay healthy for years to come? Try starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal.

"Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber beta-glucan," explains clinical dietitian practitioner and diabetes educator Tejal Pathak, MS, RD, founder of TejRD. "Numerous studies have linked fiber and its possible role in cardiovascular [health] by improving blood lipid levels and postprandial effects on blood sugars."

And for more delicious ways to keep your heart healthy, check out these 20 Foods That Can Help Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease.


Oatmeal can boost your digestive health.

happy woman hands on belly

The health of your gut can affect the wellbeing of virtually every other part of your body—and luckily, oatmeal might just be the thing you need to achieve a healthier, happier belly.

"The fiber content of oatmeal improves gut health and keeps you full," explains nutritionist Lisa Richards, author of The Candida Diet.

In fact, a 2014 review of research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that two individuals with ulcerative colitis saw their condition improve after adding oatmeal to their diet, suggesting that "long-term dietary intake of oats or oat bran could benefit inflammatory bowel disorders."

Want to improve your digestive health in a hurry? Start with the 20 Best Foods for Gut Health.


Oatmeal can improve your immune system.

Young Business Man Sneezing. Coughing Into His Sleeve or Elbow to Prevent Spread Covid-19. Corona Virus

Want to boost your gut health and your immune health in one fell swoop? It could be as simple as making oatmeal part of your regular routine.

"The fiber content of oatmeal improves gut health by serving as a prebiotic food to feed healthy gut bacteria already existing there. This one fact alone will improve immune health, lower your risk of chronic disease, and reduce inflammation in the body," explains Trista Best, a registered dietician at Balance One Supplements. And for more easy ways to reduce inflammation, discover the 30 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods.

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