While oatmeal is a name that is only used in certain parts of the world (such as the United States and Australia), it is one of the most popular breakfast foods in the world. Oatmeal comes from oat grains that have been prepared through either cutting or grounding, and many oats are sweetened or flavored in a way to make them more enjoyable. The way most of us eat oatmeal is getting a prepackaged type that we can pop in the microwave and eat within just a few minutes.
No matter how you are preparing your oatmeal, eating oats is very important for your everyday diet. You can also find oats in a lot of different foods, often in bar form or mixed in with cereals. People really started to get behind the idea that oatmeal could be healthy for you during the 1980’s when studies started to determine their benefits. Today, the oatmeal craze has died down, but it still remains popular. Let’s see what all the fuss was about in the first place, and why oatmeal is still good for you today.
Nutrition of Oatmeal
People prepare their oatmeal in a lot of different ways, but we wanted to look at what the nutrition would be for instant oatmeal that’s dry. You’ll have to watch the calorie count as one third of a cup brings around about 100 calories. Those are some pretty healthy calories, however, as you are getting seven percent of your daily recommendation for protein, and 11 percent of your daily fiber intake. There isn’t one specific vitamin that oatmeal has plenty of, but there are small amounts of thiamin, pantothenic acid, folate ,riboflavin and niacin.
When it comes to minerals in oatmeal, the most abundant of the group is manganese, bringing half of your recommended daily value. Oatmeal is also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium and selenium. Other lower count minerals include zinc, copper, iron, potassium and calcium. If you are trying to increase your fatty acid intake, there are 27 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and 594 milligrams of the omega-6 variety.
One of the reasons that oatmeal became so popular in the first place is because it’s packed with fiber. The fiber content is amazing for your digestive health, as you will be creating new probiotics that can regulate digestion in your gut. For those that have gastrointestinal problems such as constant constipation and irregularity, an increased fiber intake will help you tremendously.
Studies have even backed up oatmeal’s ability to help your digestive system. More than half of the participants in one study were able to completely give up laxatives because of oatmeal’s positive effect. Oatmeal also contains a soluble fiber that isn’t found in very many foods, but we’ll touch on the benefits of that in just a moment.
The type of fiber that we’re referring to is the beta-glucan fiber, which is very abundant in oatmeal. Because of this fiber and overall properties of oatmeal, you can take care of your heart by eating more. There have been some studies that have shown oatmeal and its fiber content can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. The antioxidants in oatmeal further enhance your body’s ability.
Heart health was another big reason that oatmeal went through a craze in the 1980’s. The claims all said that oatmeal will reduce your cholesterol, while also lowering your blood pressure. Studies have shown that this is indeed true, and the conclusion was that oatmeal has the same benefits for blood pressure as many expensive medications. With a reduced blood pressure and reduced cholesterol of up to 25 percent, oatmeal is one of the best heart healthy foods around.
If your doctor ever tells you that you need to control your blood sugar (especially for those with diabetes), one of the first foods that they will mention is oatmeal. Oatmeal has a tremendous ability to help you manage blood sugar, and is very low on the glycemic index. Much of that has to do with the soluble fiber content, but just make sure that you are getting the type of oatmeal that isn’t packed with sugar.
Studies have shown that foods such as oatmeal can allow your body a better insulin sensitivity, absorbing more glucose into the blood. Chopping up a few strawberries and mixing them with oatmeal is the perfect breakfast for someone looking to keep their blood sugar in check. When regulated, a healthy blood sugar will help every single organ in your body.
When thinking about the most filling foods that you can find, oatmeal is certainly toward the top of the list. Oatmeal can be very thick, and is packed with fiber that makes your stomach think that it’s full even if it’s not quite there. Another reason why oatmeal feels more filling than other foods is because beta-glucan within releases a hormone that allows you to feel full.
Oatmeal’s effect on the hormone had not been known previously when the oatmeal craze was going on. It wasn’t until a few years ago that oatmeal was found to produce this specific hormone (known as cholecystokinin). Now that you know, oatmeal might be a daily breakfast food.
Oatmeal is already included in a lot of beauty products, and you’ve probably heard of people mixing in oatmeal for facial masks. Those that do are doing themselves a huge favor, because oatmeal allows your skin to hold in moisture. You might remember back to your childhood when you mixed oatmeal onto your skin after getting chicken pox. That’s because oatmeal helps the symptoms and even eliminates certain skin diseases. Even the Food and Drug Administration in the United States has approved oatmeal for skin protection products, so it’s not just an old wive’s tale.
Summing it Up
As long as you are eating oatmeal at a suggested amount, your chances of seeing any negative side effects is going to be immeasurably small. Of course, there is always that old saying of “too much of a good thing” that applies to oatmeal. You’ll want to make sure that you aren’t getting oatmeal that’s too sweetened, as those artificial sweeteners can add a lot of unwanted sugar, causing problems with your insulin levels.
That will also add a lot of calories, something that oats are already high enough in. Eating too much oatmeal could lead to weight gain and the problems that come with it. As for the regular oatmeal that we’re talking about, you really just need to watch your fiber intake. It’s good to have a healthy amount of fiber in your system, but having too much can cause intestinal discomfort. Just check your intake and stay away from the sweet oatmeal, and you’re sure to get a lot of great benefits from this food that you can eat on a daily basis.