Oats are probably one of the most popular breakfast meals in the whole world, and this status is not going away any time soon. These whole foods are incessantly praised and valued by people from all walks of life, as they are not only economical and easy to nurture and process, but also loaded with diverse wellness-inducing nutrients. They have been scientifically proven to improve the heart, blood sugar management, cholesterol control, satiety, and digestion, earning a superfood status in numerous diet plans all over the globe. These health benefits of whole oats are only some of the reasons why most fitness experts and enthusiasts continue to favor them over other cereal grains.
Whole oats are the top choice for a versatile, economical, and highly nutritious food source.
Present studies have placed whole oats in a unique position due to their diverse and wonderful physiological responses against non-communicable diseases, as well as aggressive pathogens. Oats’ high levels of both micro and macronutrients, including soluble dietary fiber, proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and multiple phenolic compounds, aid your body’s defense system in combating unstable free radicals and foreign infections, significantly increasing your life expectancy. With how easy it is to serve whole oats, including them in your meal plans would be a delectable and fun experience.
What are Whole Oats?
Oats, scientific name Avena sativa, are the seeds or what they refer to as whole cereal grains of certain annual grass plants belonging to the Poaceae or grass family, along with other economically important crops like wheat, barley, corn or maize, rice, millet, rye, and sorghum. They are known to thrive in cooler and moisture areas with temperate climates due to their low heat requirement and amazing tolerance to rain.
Wild ancestors of oat grass are assumed to come from several origins, including places in southwestern Asia and some countries in the Mediterranean region, thousands of years ago. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, oats were mass grown in Scotland as people started eating them daily. In 1602, Scottish settlers introduced the grains to North America, where they gradually became a staple in food and industrial purposes. Today, the world’s largest oat producer remains to be the Russian Federation, followed by Canada, Europe, the Middle East, the USA, Australia, South America, and Mexico.
People create delicious oat-based food products to maximize the grains’ excellent nutritional value.
In general, whole oat seeds are tiny elongated, flat, unevenly round or spindle-shapes, cream-colored, and slightly-textured disks, which are covered with a fine silky layer. Uncooked oats are stiff and rather bland with hints of earthy flavors to it, as they are primarily made up of starch and fiber. That is why they are cooked with water, for them to become soft and creamy and then served with milk, sugar, yogurt, and other sweeteners for enhanced palatable quality.
Whole oats are available in various forms, such as oat bran, oat groats, steel-cut oats, Scottish oats, rolled oats or old-fashioned oats, and oat flour, all of which differ in taste, texture, and nutritional value. And to maximize the excellent nutritional profile of whole oats, people these days don’t only consume the traditional oatmeal cereals but also eat other oat-based products like biscuits, bread, cookies, flakes, and even probiotic drinks. Learn more about oat nutrition from the table below.
Nutritional Profile of Whole Oats
What are the Major Health Benefits of Whole Oats?
A scientific research recognizes oats as a wonderful food source of natural antioxidants like flavonoids, phytic acid, phenolic compounds, sterols, and Vitamin E (tocols). It reveals that the outer coating oat kernels are concentrated with avenanthramides, a unique group of phenolic compounds that exhibit the most antiradical potential. These phytonutrients have shown to scavenge unstable free radicals, eliminate them, and remedy the damage they left in the body, significantly reducing the risks of various chronic and fatal diseases.
Avenanthramides in oats have shown to possess anti-inflammatory effects, as well as antiatherogenic properties, that can inhibit certain pro-inflammatory compounds from sticking to the cells, especially in the heart and blood vessels. Whole oats also have lunasin peptides and both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, all of which lessen excessive swelling in the many parts of the body.
Whole oats are fully-packed with different health-giving compounds that can boost your immunity. The crop is rich in beta-glucan fiber that stimulates the white blood cells and strengthens the body’s immune system, working as an antibiotic that accelerates wound healing. Oats also own good amounts of minerals like zinc and selenium and vitamins like vitamin E, vitamin K, and several B-vitamins, including folates, vitamin B-16, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin, each of which has a role in fighting infections.
Health Benefits Of Whole Oats
1. Whole oats promote proper digestion
As mentioned, oats have an outstanding reservoir of soluble fiber called beta-glucans that can relieve indigestion and constipation. This dietary fiber is known to stimulate proper digestion while smoothly slowing down the food’s movement through the gastrointestinal tract, granting more time for nutrient absorption. The nutrient also increases the gut’s good bacteria, which promote satiety or feeling of fullness.
2. Fiber-rich oats aid diabetes treatment
A high-fiber diet has long been associated with helping the treatment and prevention of diabetes. Fiber-rich oats are often utilized in these diets, as they are low in the glycemic index and can reduce blood glucose amounts while improving insulin levels. The beta-glucans in oats are highly praised for preventing abnormal blood sugar spikes after eating.
3. Oats relieve stress-induced asthma
Another benefit of beta-glucans is offsetting certain respiratory infections like asthma and those induced by post-exercise stress. Beta-glucans in oats, along with other anti-inflammatory agents, increase the power of your body’s immune cells to effectively fight the different types of pathogenic microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
4. Whole oats help maintain strong bones
A high intake of oats, which contain plenty of essential minerals and vitamins, helps maintain your bone health. Oats have sufficient quantities of vitamin K and silicon that work together in a better and stronger bone formation and preservation, aiding the treatment of fractures and osteoporosis.
5. They reduce the chance of cancer
The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances present in whole oats are linked to a decreased risk of cancer growth and development. Research says that the two main nutrients responsible for this health benefit of oats are the unusual beta-glucan fiber and avenanthramides. Enjoying regular oats and oat-based products supports your body’s protection against colon and rectal cancers, without affecting your healthy cells.
6. Whole oats boost heart health
Clinical study results show that the soluble beta-glucan fiber abundant in whole oats helps reduce the bad cholesterol in your body, without affecting the good ones. The grains’ antioxidants like avenanthramides, phenolic acids, and vitamin C also support your heart health by reducing free radical damages, as well as inflammation, in your blood vessels. Frequent consumption of oats can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and its related symptoms.
7. Oats lessen post-menopausal diseases
Post-menopausal women are at high risk of different diseases due to the decrease of estrogen hormones in their bodies. However, eating whole oats every day is found to improve their protection against heart ailments, stroke, and osteoporosis because of the food’s rich antioxidant and immune-boosting nutrients.
8. Eating whole oats induces peaceful sleep
Oats have several compounds that can ease chronic physical fatigue, insomnia, emotional stress, and their related symptoms, helping both your mind and body to relax. They have rich amino acids like tryptophan, beta-glucans, and vitamin B-6, all of which aid in calming neural pathways and sedating your brain.
9. Dietary oats support weight loss
It is already mentioned that fiber-dense and low-calorie oats can boost satiety, making you feel full for longer periods and restraining binge-eating, as well as cravings. With this, pure cooked oatmeal is extremely recommended for individuals who want to lose and maintain weight while still getting enough energy, nutrients, and protection against metabolic disorders.
10. Whole oats provide numerous skin benefits
While ingesting oats brings various perks for the body, topical application of the whole grains is found to soothe numerous skin conditions like itching, irritation from poison ivy, acne, chickenpox, dermatitis, and stress rashes. Oats’ antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-aging properties work altogether in eliminating pathogenic infections, moisturizing dead cells, and warding off free radical, pollution, and UV damages from your skin.
How to Prepare
Each type of oats requires different cooking time and method. In general, oats are added to cold water and then cooked at a simmer. Also, most manufacturers of whole oats and other related products include preparation instructions in their labels, so you will just have to follow them to fully enjoy your cereal grains.
Here are some easy and quick oat recipes for you to relish anytime and any day:
- The most common way to serve whole oats is making a bowl of hot oatmeal topped with your favorite nuts and fresh fruits for a healthy and delectable breakfast.
- Cook oatmeal, but use milk instead of water. Also, add honey and protein powders for total nutrition.
- Bake oatmeal cookies, bread, muffins, or cake using oat flour for a fiber-rich snack.
- Stuff your poultry dishes with oat groats for added health benefits.
How to Select and Store
Selection: As much as possible, purchase oat products that don’t have sugar, salt, or any additive in them, and since the grains are highly perishable, get small quantities at one time to avoid wasting oats when they go rancid. With oats usually sold in prepackaged bins and containers, make sure to get those that are free from moisture, molds, and other foreign debris.
Storage: You should store whole oats in tightly-sealed containers and place them in a cool, dry, dark area to last for about two months.
Possible Risks and Complications
Whole oats are generally safe to ingest when taken in normal amounts and moderation. However, their rich fibers have been known to cause colic gas or bloating in some individuals and even aggravating certain digestive ailments and their symptoms. Poorly chewed whole grains may also block your intestine, which may result in serious health issues. Furthermore, oats possess avenin, a protein closely similar to gluten, which can trigger and worsen celiac disease.
Both whole oats and oat-based products are acknowledged to improve many aspects of health, most especially your immune system, due to their distinct wellness-giving and disease-preventing compounds. Consider adding the very economical and versatile oats to your dietary plans now to savor their abundant antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agents, soluble fiber, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and other phytonutrients. Then, you can expect a plethora of health benefits to come your way, including improved blood sugar and insulin levels, digestion, skin, and sleep and reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, heart ailments, osteoporosis, respiratory issues, depression, and obesity.
How do you prepare your whole oat cereals aside from the famous oatmeal? Share your recipe with us in the comment box below!