Packed with starch and fibre, quality protein, and several vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, iron, manganese, magnetic, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and selenium, there are few other grains than oats that are as nutritious. Oats benefits for overall health are plenty, and it’s not for nothing that this important cereal is talked about so much. Read on to know how oats can benefit health.
Oats Benefits For Diabetes
Nutritionist Dt Hetal Saraiya says, “Oats are rich in starch and fibre, which are carbohydrates, the body’s favourite macronutrient to get energy from. Fibre is especially important for those with diabetes, as it contains a specific type of soluble fibre, beta-glucan. This fibre increases the time taken by your body to digest food, thus slowing down the release of the blood sugar glucose. By preventing blood sugar spikes in the small intestine, the high-fibre content in oats can help manage diabetes.”
Saraiya adds that oats benefits for health include helping reduce inflammation, which is a type of natural body defence mechanism. She says, “Inflammation in diabetes, that can lead to disease progression, can be reduced with a diet of oats. This is owing to avenanthramides, compounds in the cereal having anti-inflammatory properties.”
Tip: Oats are one of the healthiest foods you can eat to cope with diabetes.
Oats Benefits For Weight Loss
Simply put, oats are a filling meal option, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They take a while to digest, so they keep you feeling full for longer, preventing you from bingeing on less healthy foods. Beta-glucan, in particular, is known to promote the release of peptide YY (PYY), which is a type of satiety hormone. This hormone is produced in the gut and it’s been shown to help reduce calorie intake and decrease the risk of obesity.
Oats Benefits For Heart Health
Remember the compounds avenanthramides mentioned earlier? These are actually a group of unique antioxidants that offer oats benefits for a healthy heart by increasing production of nitric oxide. This gas dilates blood vessels, leading to lower blood pressure and improved blood flow.
Saraiya adds, “Soluble fibre content in oatmeal reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as the bad cholesterol. Soluble fibre also reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream.”
Tip: Increase your intake of fibre by adding fresh fruits to your bowl of oatmeal.
Oats Benefits For Bowel Movement
Having trouble keeping regular or facing constipation? Oats to the rescue! Oat bran, produced from the outer layers of oats, is packed with soluble and insoluble fibre, making it an excellent natural laxative.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like material, and it helps lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. On the other hand, insoluble fibre adds bulk to stool, promoting its movement through the digestive tract. Eating a high-fibre diet can not just normalise bowel movements, but also help maintain bowel health by lowering the risk of haemorrhoids, diverticular disease, and colorectal cancer.
Refer to this chart for more information on the nutrient content of oats.
Tip: Soluble and insoluble fibre are important in their own way for health. Adding oats to your diet gives you a healthy dose of both types of dietary fibre.
FAQs on Oats
Q. What are the types of oats?
A. You can consume oats in any of the many forms it is available in. Saraiya shares details about the types so you can avail oats benefits for health:
– Steel-cut oats or Irish oats: These are large in size and take longer to cook than other oats varieties. They are the least processed of all oats, and as such, best for those having type 2 diabetes.
– Rolled oats: This type of oats are steamed and flattened to create oat flakes that are smaller than and cook faster than steel-cut oats. Since they are partially cooked, they can increase your blood sugar levels faster.
– Instant oats: These are steamed for longer during processing and rolled into thinner flakes. This decreases cooking time, but also leads to sharper spike in blood sugar levels.
Q. What are the side-effects of eating oats?
A. Oats are packed with fibre, and eating a high-fibre diet can cause intestinal gas and bloating. Oats benefits for health are many, but to minimise these side effects, start eating oats or any high-fibre diet gradually, increase the dose slowly.
In addition to this, avoid eating oats if you have digestive tract disorders that extend the time it takes for you to digest food, as this cereal could block the intestine.
Bear in mind that oats are a low-calorie food, so don’t overdo it in a quest to lose weight. Also, oats can lead to weight gain if you’re not careful. Avoid:
- Adding too much sugar to your oatmeal
- Eating pre-packaged oatmeal that’s laden with sugar
- Eating too much
- Adding the wrong toppings like chocolate chips
- Adding too many healthy toppings, for example, dried fruits and nuts which are high in calories
Image: ShutterstockRead more: Try These Easy Oats Recipes!