- Health benefits of oatmeal include managing blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and weight.
- Most oatmeal is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan, making it a great breakfast option for most.
- To make oatmeal, microwave 1/2 cup of oats with 1 cup of water for two minutes and top with fruit.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Oatmeal is a grain-based porridge that’s a popular breakfast option thanks to its multiple health benefits. Plus, almost anyone can eat it — it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.
Here are six reasons why you should rotate oatmeal into your breakfast routine and a step-by-step guide on the best way to make it.
1. Boasts an impressive nutrient profile
Oatmeal contains an impressive amount of vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. Unlike simple carbs, complex carbohydrates contain more starch and fiber than sugar. This means it takes longer for your body to break down complex carbohydrates, keeping you energized for a longer period of time.
Moreover, complex “carbs offer important nutrients, so it’s important not to be afraid of them, especially whole foods like oats,” says Abby Langer, a registered dietitian and owner of Abby Langer Nutrition.
Here are the nutrient facts for a half-cup of whole-grain rolled oats.
2. Improves cholesterol levels
Eating oats can help improve cholesterol levels thanks to a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan. Consuming 3 grams of beta-glucan daily, or about one cup of cooked oatmeal, has shown to reduce LDL cholesterol — also known as the bad type of cholesterol — in both people with normal cholesterol levels and high cholesterol levels.
3. Controls blood sugar
Oatmeal is high in fiber, which means your body digests it more slowly. This, in turn, can help keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent any spikes or crashes that can leave you feeling tired, irritable, and hungry shortly afterward.
Moreover, if you’re consistently eating simple carbs that spike and crash your blood sugar levels, it can take a toll on your health and may cause
, weight gain, and
4. Helps with weight loss
The high-fiber content of oatmeal can also help you feel fuller for longer, which may assist in
“This could help prevent frequent snacking, allowing you to go about your day without thinking of food and feeling hungry so often,” says Colleen Christensen, a registered dietitian, and nutritionist with her own private practice.
Although several studies have found the beta-glucan fiber in oats can increase satiety, other studies have not consistently found oatmeal helps you lose substantial amounts of weight. That’s why it’s always important to pair oatmeal with a healthy diet and exercise.
5. Eases constipation
Oatmeal is high in a specific type of fiber, called soluble fiber, which helps food move through your intestines making stool softer and easier to pass, thereby easing constipation. Soluble fiber can also help those with loose stools by absorbing excess liquid in the intestine.
However, it’s important to eat minimally-processed oats because oats that come with added sugars and different flavors contain significantly less fiber. For example, one serving of Quaker Strawberries and Cream Instant Oatmeal contains 2 grams of fiber compared to a serving of Quaker’s Old Fashioned Oats, which has double the fiber at 4 grams.
6. Soothes skin
Oatmeal, specifically colloidal oatmeal, can also help relieve itchy or irritated skin. Colloidal oatmeal is oatmeal that has been ground into a fine powder that can be added to water, lotions, or soap and applied topically.
Oatmeal acts as an emollient, meaning it forms a thin layer on the outside of the skin, thereby trapping in moisture. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which helps it treat conditions like:
- Atopic and contact dermatitis, which cause skin inflammation and dryness
- Bug bites
In fact, a 2015 study found that eczema cream that contained colloidal oatmeal worked better than a standard moisturizer at repairing skin damaged by atopic dermatitis.
How to eat oatmeal
Here is a super easy step-by-step guide on how to make oatmeal and what toppings to add, according to Christensen.
“If you eat it daily I’d recommend changing up the toppings so that your body will be getting different nutrients,” says Christensen.
Other ways to eat oatmeal, according to Langer include:
- Baked oats, which is when oats are baked in the oven.
- Overnight oats, which are made by soaking oats in milk, greek yogurt, or water overnight.
- Savory oats made with broth and topped with vegetables like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, or adding an egg.
Oatmeal is nutrient-dense, convenient, and affordable. A large container of oatmeal, which typically holds around 30 servings, costs around $2.00 to $3.00 dollars depending on the brand you buy.
Adding it to your diet may help you control your weight and improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
You can find various types of oats to make oatmeal at most grocery stores. But if you want to reap all the health benefits the food offers, avoid pre-packaged forms of oatmeal with added flavors or sugar.