A bowl of oatmeal for breakfast is one of the first choices we make when we start dieting. It’s part of the routine when choosing to live a healthier lifestyle, a far better option than a sugary muffin. Or perhaps we’re simply on the run but still want to maintain a balanced breakfast and gain enough energy to start the day. But the question is, is oatmeal healthy? Or rather, is it as healthy as it is generally said to be?
Does it actually help with weight loss? How much oatmeal should we eat per day? In this article, we’re going to look at these issues.
The Bright Side of Oatmeal
- Why is oatmeal healthy? The main benefit of oatmeal is that it is a whole grain, meaning it hasn’t lost its nutrients during processing so it still has its germ and bran. As a result, oatmeal is a great source of vitamin B, beta-glucan or soluble fiber, which helps to lower your cholesterol levels, and avenanthramides, which in essence, are antioxidants that clean your arteries.
- In addition, beta-glucan helps with digestion. This is because it expands in your gut, it gives you a sensation of being full longer, controlling thus your appetite.
- Also, because it absorbs water, it also fights constipation.
- High levels of beta-glucans also contribute to a decreased risk of heart diseases and immunity boosts.
- Moreover, its high vitamin and mineral content can reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
How Much Oatmeal Should We Eat?
- According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, in order to decrease the levels of cholesterol in your bloodstream, we should eat 3 grams of beta-glucan per day. This means that one and a half cups of oatmeal should do the trick and lower your cholesterol by 5% to 8%. Also, a cup of oatmeal has around 159 calories.
- Some people might not like the taste of plain oatmeal but still want that health boost. Nutritionists advise adding ingredients such as cinnamon, pistachios or berries to give it a little flavor. It is important not to pour sugar over or buy flavored packets as it is full of additives. Therefore, it cancels the healthy benefits of the meal. Moreover, studies proved that adding sugar or eating beyond the recommended portion size leads to weight gain.However, you always have the option to choose stevia.
- Another way to integrate oatmeal in your menu is to bake the oatmeal with steel-cut oats and add sugar-free applesauce and cinnamon on top. Or let your oats sit in almond milk overnight and eat it cold for breakfast. Incorporating it in different recipes is a trick to make it tastier and get the fibers and proteins you need.
- That being said, consuming only oats as a means to lose weight faster is not an option. Neglecting other foods and their specific nutrients will lead to different deficiencies over time.
Is Oatmeal Healthy for Everyone?
Oatmeal is a very good choice for everyone. Unless you suffer from allergies, oatmeal should not be a problem. Another thing you should look after if you want to avoid gluten is to check the brand is certified gluten-free. By themselves, oats are gluten-free. However, there might be wheat in certain processing plants as well so it’s always good to check the package.
Oatmeal is also a great option for diabetics because it is digested slower and prevents spikes in blood sugar levels after eating. The soluble fiber is also a great aid in reducing blood pressure.
Moreover, in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, a study in 2015 showed the health benefits of choosing oats instead of corn. The overweight subjects produced better results after consuming oatmeal for breakfast. Because of the soluble fiber, they ate less at lunch compared to the lean subjects who tended to eat more as they had cereal for breakfast. It is still unknown exactly how much oatmeal we need to fight advanced obesity. Oatmeal can also be part of a healthy diet in children because of its weight-control properties.
So is oatmeal healthy as we thought? Because of all the scientifically proven results, the American Food and Drug Administration allows the packaging to mention that oats help reduce the risk of heart disease.
All in all, oatmeal is a great addition to any food menu, with its variety of benefits. As with any other food, you should consume it according to recommendations.