Ask any dietitian to recommend their top healthy breakfast options, and you can bet they’ll tell you to eat oats! Oats are versatile, budget friendly and nutritional powerhouses.
If you’re still not convinced, we’ve put together the top 5 reasons why this particular wholegrain is the perfect addition to your diet!
But Firstly, What Are Oats and Which Should You Pick?
Oats in their true form, are a whole grain, meaning all three parts of the edible grain remain in-tact. This includes the outside bran layer – which is rich in fibre (soluble & insoluble), vitamins and minerals. In the middle the endosperm is the seed’s energy store, containing protein and carbohydrates. On the very inside of the grain, the germ holds anti-oxidants, vitamins and healthy fats.
It’s important to mention that not all oat products are quite as nutritious as one another. ‘Instant Oats’ for example, may seem a quick, convenient option but the decreased cooking time results from removing the outside bran layer – which holds important nutrients. For this reason we recommend choosing rolled or steel cut oats. Keep in mind, as we refer to oats throughout this article, we’re talking about wholegrain oats (such as rolled or steel cut oats).
5 Reasons to Add Oats to Your Diet
1. Oats help to keep your bowels regular
Oats contain fibre which is a key player in keeping your digestive system healthy and moving regularly. There are three types of dietary fibre which each have a valuable role in your overall health. Insoluble fibre and resistant starch are two of those which have a special role in keeping our guts happy!
Insoluble fibre moves through our digestive system without being dissolved and absorbed by the body. Absorbing water as it moves through the bowels helps to soften and bulk up our poo which keeps things moving regularly – helping to avoid the much-dreaded constipation!
Resistant starch is a special type of fibre that is not digested in the small intestine, making its way to the large intestine where it feeds the good bacteria needed for a happy, healthy gut! When oats are cooked then cooled, they become a great source of resistant starch – ready to feed your hungry healthy gut bacteria.
2. Oats can lower your cholesterol levels
The third type of fibre found in oats is called soluble fibre and it forms a gel-like mixture which swells in our bowels – which actually has many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels. Oats contain a superstar soluble fibre called beta-glucan which lives in the bran layer of the grain. Beta-glucan helps reduce cholesterol re-absorption in the gut. This means cholesterol is not re-absorbed back into the body where it can be harmful to your health (particularly your heart health).
3. Oats contain antioxidants
Oats are also rich in antioxidants, particularly avenathramides. This anti-oxidant increases the production of nitric oxide in the body. This is a gas molecule which can help dilate our blood vessels for better blood flow which results in lowering blood pressure levels. Studies have also indicated that this particular anti-oxidant may have anti-inflammatory and antiatherogenic (prevents plaque build-up in our arteries) properties.
4. Oats boost your energy levels
Oats are a great source of slow releasing carbohydrate which helps provide the fuel you need to keep going throughout the day. Oats are classified as a low GI carbohydrate – which basically means they don’t cause a rapid spike to your blood sugar levels. This low GI source also provides sustained energy rather than a quick peak followed by an energy slump (which happens when we eat things like sweets).
5. Oats keep you feeling full (of the good stuff!)
Not only does the low GI content of oats provide you with sustained energy, the nutritious profile of oats keeps your tummy feeling satisfied for longer periods of time. Oats are a rich source of protein which increases the signalling to your body that your hunger is fulfilled (satiety hormones). The soluble-fibre (beta-glucan) also works to increase satiety hormones and delays stomach emptying – keeping you feeling full for longer.
Recipes that contain oats
- Peanut Butter & Date Porridge
- Cinnamon & Nut Bircher Muesli
- Healthy Granola
- Chocolate & Date Oat Slice
- Coconut Muesli Cookies
Note: this article was written in partnership with Sunsol Muesli. This is our go-to choice for oats and muesli.