Whether loved or hated for their mushy yet hearty texture when cooked, oats are most prized for their nutritional value and health benefits.
Oats’ main claim to fame is soluble fiber, which helps prevent cholesterol from being absorbed — and oats are loaded with it — almost 11%. One cup of oatmeal contains 4 grams of fiber (about half soluble, mostly a fiber called beta glucan and half insoluble). Soluble fiber is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and with helping to lower blood cholesterol, particularly the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Oat fiber may have additional benefits — improving digestion, helping to control blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
But that’s just the beginning. Oats are a complex carbohydrate, so they’ll keep you feeling full longer than simple carbs. And get this… oats have twice the protein as brown rice (one cup contains 6 grams of protein). Oats also offer high amounts of many vitamins and minerals, such as manganese, phosphorus, copper, B vitamins, iron, selenium, magnesium, and zinc.
Whole oats are also the only food source of avenanthramides, a unique group of antioxidants believed to protect against heart disease, as they are thought to reduce inflammation in arteries and regulate blood pressure.
And the good news is that because both types of oats — rolled or steel-cut — includes the whole grain, they offer essentially the same impressive health benefits.