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Exploring Varieties of Oats & Nutritional Benefits

09 Jun 2022
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When thinking of a healthy, hearty breakfast, a steaming hot bowl of oats might come to mind. They are an excellent source of fiber-rich carbohydrates, while being low in fat & high in protein, vitamins, & minerals. Moreover, there is a variety of oat types available, such as rolled oats, steel-cut oats, & quick-cooking oats. It's important to note that each type has its own distinct nutrient profile & unique processing methods, allowing individuals to choose the one that best suits their preferences & nutritional needs. Let us look at each one in detail:

 

STEEL-CUT OATS:

Steel-cut oats, also called pinhead oats, coarse oatmeal or Irish oatmeal are groats (the inner kernel with the inedible hull removed) of whole oats which have been chopped into two or three pinhead-sized pieces.

They take longer to cook than instant, ground, or rolled oats, typically 15–30 minutes for porridge (or about half this time if presoaked). They can be used to make oatcakes, blended uncooked in smoothies & for other culinary purposes.

 Benefits of Steel-Cut Oats:

  • Digestive Health: The fiber in steel-cut oats supports a healthy digestive system by nourishing beneficial gut bacteria & promoting regular bowel movements.
  • Stable Blood Sugar: Steel-cut oats have a lower glycemic index compared to rolled or quick oats, resulting in a slower rise in blood sugar levels after consumption.
  • Energy Boost: Steel-cut oats are rich in iron & B vitamins, which enhance energy levels.
  • Satiety & Weight Management: The β-glucan fiber in steel-cut oats slows down digestion, making you feel fuller for longer & potentially aiding weight loss efforts by preventing overeating.
  • Antioxidant Protection: Steel-cut oats are abundant in polyphenols, acting as antioxidants that can help protect against cell damage, heart disease, colon cancer, & skin irritation.
  • Prebiotic Potential: Oats may possess prebiotic properties, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract & maintaining a healthy gut.
  • Skin Health: The beta-glucan in steel-cut oats contributes to the protective function of oats, benefiting skin health.
  • Reducing Allergy Risk: Introducing oats early in a baby's diet may decrease the risk of asthma, allergic rhinitis, & atopic sensitization.

 

ROLLED OATS :

Rolled oats, or old-fashioned oats, are oat groats that have gone through a steaming & flattening process.

They have a milder flavor & softer texture. Therefore, it take much less time to make rolled oats than steel-cut oats, as they have been partially cooked.

A bowl of rolled oats takes 2–5 minutes to prepare.

Rolled oats can also be added to preparations like cookies, cakes, muffins & porridge.

Benefits of Rolled Oats:

  • Nutrient-rich: Rolled oats are packed with essential nutrients, including fiber, protein, vitamins, & minerals.
  • Digestive Health: The high fiber content in rolled oats promotes healthy digestion & regular bowel movements.
  • Heart Health: Rolled oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that can help lower cholesterol levels & reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Satiety & Weight Management: The fiber & protein in rolled oats help you feel fuller for longer, aiding in weight management & preventing overeating.
  • Stable Blood Sugar: Rolled oats have a lower glycemic index, meaning they are digested & absorbed more slowly, resulting in a steadier rise in blood sugar levels.
  • Energy Boost: Rolled oats provide a sustained release of energy due to their complex carbohydrates, making them an excellent choice for fueling physical activities.
  • Versatility: Rolled oats can be used in various recipes, such as oatmeal, granola, baked goods, & smoothies, offering versatility in incorporating them into a healthy diet.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Rolled oats contain antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage & promote overall health.
  • Gluten-Free Option: Rolled oats labeled as gluten-free are available, making them suitable for individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

 

QUICK OATS :

Quick oats or quick-cooking oats are rolled oats that are further processed to decrease cooking time.

They’re partially cooked by steaming & then rolled even thinner than old-fashioned oats.

They cook within a few minutes & have a mild flavor & soft, mushy texture.

Steel-cut oats & rolled oats are generally considered better than instant oats due to their less processed nature, higher nutrient content, lower glycemic index, better texture, & greater versatility in cooking.

 Here are some ways to include Oats in your diet:

  • Add raw oats to your smoothie for a fiber boost.

  • Top cooked oats with sliced avocado, peppers, black beans, salsa & eggs for a savory twist on traditional sweet oatmeal.

  • Add raw oats to homemade bread, cookies & muffins.

  • Combine them with Greek yogurt & cinnamon to make overnight oats.

  • Make homemade granola by combining oats with coconut oil, cinnamon, nuts & dried fruit, then baking at a low temperature.

  • Use them in place of breadcrumbs to coat fish or chicken.

  • Incorporate oats into your favorite pancake recipe.

  • Use them in place of rice when making risotto.

  • Top cooked oats with grilled vegetables, chicken & tahini for a satisfying lunch or dinner.

  • Add them to soups for a creamy texture without adding a lot of fat.

  • Mix oats with nut butter & dried fruit, form into balls & refrigerate for delicious, healthy energy bites.

  • You may stuff peppers, tomatoes or zucchini with a mix of oats, onion & egg with cheese. Bake this in the oven for a delicious snack.

In conclusion, oats offer a range of choices such as rolled oats, steel-cut oats, & quick-cooking oats, each with its own nutrient profile & processing method. Regardless of the type you choose, oats are a fibre-rich carb, low in fat, high in protein, vitamins, & minerals. Including oats in your diet can provide numerous health benefits, such as improved digestion, stable blood sugar, increased energy levels, & support for weight management. So, embrace the versatility & nutritional value of oats & enjoy their goodness in your meals.


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