Oatmeal gets a lot of attention for being a healthy breakfast food, but there’s another oat-based meal that doesn’t get nearly as much time in the spotlight as it deserves: Overnight oats.
What are overnight oats? Unlike oatmeal, which requires you to boil oats in water or milk, you don’t cook overnight oats at all—you just put rolled oats (which are pre-cooked) in a jar with the liquid of your choice overnight. And that’s it. In the morning, you can top the oats with fresh fruit, heart-healthy nuts, or even crunchy cacao nibs to make for a flavorful, antioxidant-rich meal.
Aside from flavor, there are a few potential health benefits you experience from eating overnight oats regularly. Below, we’ve detailed five so you have all the more reason to switch up your breakfast routine. Then, don’t miss the 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now for more ways you can jazz up your diet.
The connection between your gut and your brain is something you always want to be mindful of. After all, as much as 90 percent of your body’s supply of serotonin, the hormone that stabilizes mood, lies in your gut. It’s no wonder why we end up feeling irritated after eating something that made our stomach upset—when our gut is unhappy, nerve cells lining your GI tract sends those agitated signals straight to our brain cells.
Overnight oats are rich in resistant starch, which is a type of prebiotic fiber that the body doesn’t digest. As a result, it passes straight through your digestive system until it reaches your gut. Then, gut bacteria ferment the fiber which, simply put, helps to create a healthy gut environment. And a heathy gut, yields a better mood thanks to the gut-brain axis.
Again, thanks to the fiber content in overnight oats, you’ll be able to go to the bathroom with ease—so long as there aren’t any other underlying issues going on. A half-cup of rolled oats, for example, contains 4 grams of fiber. For context, you should aim to eat anywhere between 28 and 38 grams of fiber each day. By kicking off the morning with overnight oats, you’ll already have gotten a head start on achieving that daily fiber goal with 14% of your daily recommended intake.
Another way overnight oats can put you in a better mood? Their satiating qualities—which is largely thanks to all that fiber—will give you enough energy to power through your morning so you don’t dip into the dreadful hangry zone. In fact, oatmeal is ranked the 3rd most filling food according to the satiety index.
Stir in some healthful fats such as chia seeds or something creamy like sunflower butter to make your morning meal even more satisfying.
Let’s say prior to eating overnight oats every morning (or at least three times a week) you were eating two eggs with bacon and maybe even some toast with butter on the side. While that stacked meal sounds delicious—and let’s be very clear, it is—eating that each day could be causing you to consume a significant amount of calories. For reference using our The Best & Worst Fast Food Breakfast Sandwiches, some sandwiches can have as many as 710 calories per serving!
In turn, by switching to overnight oats—which have just 150 calories per half-cup, no more than 25 calories of nut milk, and you can limit additional toppings to 150 calories—you could notice some weight loss after a few weeks of keeping up with this new routine by saving almost 400 calories!
Going back to that eggs, bacon, and toast with butter breakfast scenario, switching to overnight oats would decrease the amount of saturated fats you eat per day, which could better bolster heart health over time.
What’s more? A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition pinpointed a specific oat fiber, beta-glucan, that’s been shown to reduce cholesterol levels by as much 10%, which is linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
For more, be sure to check out 10 Coffee Hacks for Weight Loss, According to Registered Dietitians.