Oats are not just healthy for your heart, but for your whole body
Whole grains to health.
Oats are most frequently known for their heart healthy nutrition claim in the media, but this grain has many more benefits than just heart health. Consumption of oats has been linked to improve the health of people with diabetes mellitus, hypertension, infection and cardiovascular disease. However, most research on oats supports the health claim stating, “Soluble fiber from whole oats, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.” These research studies found evidence supporting oats effectiveness in lowering LDL cholesterol when consumed regularly with a low saturated fat diet.
The unique composition of oats gives this grain its nutritional advantage against other cereals. The macronutrient composition of oats provides almost four times more healthy fat, one-third more protein, and less starch than other cereals. Oats also contain compounds that produce antioxidant properties in the body that have an anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer and anti-diarrheal effect. With all of these benefits, oats are a great grain to eat in any form.
Michigan State University Extension says that oats are sold in variety of different forms that vary in the way they were processed and the length of time to cook. The least processed form of oats is whole oat groats. In this form, the grain has only been harvested and cleaned. Oat groats take the longest time to cook. The next variety of oats is steel cut oats. These are produced when whole oat groats are cut into two or three pieces. They get their name because typically they are cut from a sharp metal blade. Next, rolled oats are made when oat groats are first steamed and then rolled into flakes. Because of the greater surface area produced by the rolling process, rolled oats do not take as long to cook as steal cut oats or whole oat groats. The steaming process also allows the rolled oats to be shelf stable for longer periods of time. Finally, quick or instant rolled oats are made when rolled oats are flattened thinner and steamed longer. Therefore, they take the shortest amount of time to cook. Any form of oat will provide a nutritious whole grain with many antioxidants.
Oats are not only a breakfast food. They can be added to many dishes for a powerful boost of antioxidants. Try adding oats to your meatloaf recipe or using oats as a crust for chicken or fish. Try something unique with your family and make a salmon or crab cake using oats, instead of bread crumbs. Oats always taste great in sweet treats like oatmeal raisin cookies, maple pecan oatmeal bars, a crunchy fruit cobbler or homemade granola.
By increasing your daily consumption of oats, not only your heart, but your whole body will thank you. So go ahead and start experimenting with oats!