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Oatmeal is a staple of a healthy diet, a popular breakfast choice, especially on colder days, and a great way to enjoy a filling breakfast, without fatty, unhealthy ingredients. It’s something that many of us enjoy, whether we are dieting or eating whatever we want.
While you might be enjoying oats, have you ever considered the benefits? Oats have many health benefits and other advantages and can be an easy way to add extra nutrients to your diet without having to take supplements or follow a strict eating plan. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits in more detail.
It’s Not Just for Eating
Most of the benefits to oats involve eating them. But, not all. Oatmeal can be great for your skin. An oat bath has long been used to soothe chickenpox and other painful or itchy skin conditions, reducing inflammation and easing any discomfort.
Oat baths can also be used to soothe delicate babies skin if they are suffering from sensitivity, dryness, or eczema. You can buy oatmeal lotions and creams, but plain rolled oats bought from your local store mixed into a lukewarm bath can be perfect for babies and young children.
Colloidal oatmeal, which is oats ground down and suspended in liquid to enable better absorption into the skin, can soothe eczema, bug bites, sunburns, poison ivy, and other itchy and other inflamed skin conditions. Applied as a cream, colloidal oatmeal attracts moisture to the skin and locks it in by forming a protective barrier. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, which rarely irritates.
They Are Very Nutritious
Eating more oats is an exceptionally effective way to boost your nutrition; they are among the healthiest grains on earth and can play a key part of a nutritionally balanced diet. Oats are gluten-free and rich in vitamins, minerals, carbs, and fiber.
Around 80 grams of oats contains 191% of the RDI of manganese, 41% of the RDI of phosphorus, 34% magnesium, 24% copper, 20% iron, 20% zinc, 11% folate, 39% vitamin B1 and 10% vitamin B5, all with only 5 grams of fat and 305 calories. There are very few simple foods with such a good nutritional balance.
Oats Keep You Full for Longer
Many dieters absolutely swear by oats. They are very filling and packed with slow-release energy. This means that one portion of oats in the morning can fill you up, and, unlike many other kinds of cereal, keep you full until lunch. Get a sugar rush by adding fruits, and oats will both fill you up and be less likely to crave sweet treats later in the day.
Those keen on exercise or training for an event also rely on oats. They are perfect for before a workout, to fill you up, boost your energy levels, and help you to perform at your best. But, they can also be a fantastic post-workout snack, aiding recovery and getting you ready for the rest of the day.
Oats Are Rich in Antioxidants
A diet rich in antioxidants can lower the risk of a multitude of conditions, including heart disease. They can reduce inflammation in the body and protect against some cancers. Some antioxidants can also give your skin and hair a boost and help to take care of your immune system.
Whole oats are high in antioxidants, including polyphenols and avenanthramides. Avenanthramides increase the production of nitric oxide, which helps to dilate blood vessels, increasing blood flow, improving circulation, and lowering blood pressure.
Oatmeal Could Lower Cholesterol
High cholesterol is the leading cause of heart disease, which is, in turn, the leading cause of death globally. There are many different ways to manage and reduce your cholesterol levels, and one of these is eating more oats.
Oats contain a beta-glucan fiber. This can increase the excretion of cholesterol-rich bile, reducing the levels of cholesterol circulating in the bloodstream. Oats also help lower cholesterol by reducing inflammation, increasing blood blow, and working with vitamin C.
Oats Can Help Lower Blood Sugar
Many people are suffering from type 2 diabetes, struggling with high levels of blood sugar, and a decreased sensitivity to insulin.
Oats on their own can’t prevent or cure diabetes, but they can help you to manage your blood sugar levels and control your symptoms. They do this by using the beta-glucan fiber to form a thick gel. This works to delay the absorption of glucose into the blood and keeps blood sugar levels healthy.
These benefits can be especially useful if you suffer from diabetes, or have been warned that your blood sugar levels are too high, or if you are overweight.
Oats are Great for Digestion
Our digestive systems are delicate. Many people find that even small changes to their diet affect their digestion, often leading to constipation. Oats can help. They are very high in fiber and can help your gut health. This can keep you regular and may decrease the need for laxative medications. Oats have been found to be particularly beneficial to older people struggling with digestive issues and illnesses.
They are Super Versatile
Oatmeal is amazingly versatile. You can eat it, bathe in it and rub it on your skin. When it comes to eating it, you can bake it, serve it raw, or cook it up with milk. It tastes fantastic with fruit, chocolate, jam, and syrup. It’s great on its own, topped, as an ingredient, and in many other ways. There are countless ways to enjoy oats and to reap the benefits of doing so.
Another advantage is that you can’t really eat too much of it. Unlike eggs, which are healthy but can be high in cholesterol, or fruit, which contains a lot of natural sugars, oats don’t really have any drawbacks, and you could eat them most days without getting bored.
Oats are Cheap
Oats are a fantastic diet staple because they are cheap. There are many different kinds of oat available from many different brands, some of which can be costly. But, basic, non-branded rolled oats are exceptionally cheap, and a big bag can last for a long time. Make sure you’ve always got a big bag of oats in the cupboard, and you’ve always got the chance to create a healthy and nutritious meal or snack.
How to Get More Oats into Your Diet
So, oats are cheap, tasty, and versatile. You can eat them in many different ways, and as part of a healthy and balanced diet, they can have countless health benefits. But, how can you get more oats in your diet?
Porridge for Breakfast
If you are a porridge fan, it’s easy. On a cold morning, a big bowl of porridge topped with fresh fruit and a drizzle of syrup is a fantastic way to start your day. It’s filling, and slow-release energy can help to keep you going until lunchtime. For a change, add a handful of seeds, or some dried fruit.
Smoothies with Added Oats
But, on a summer day, porridge doesn’t always work. So, swap your hot bowl of oats for a healthy and nutritious smoothie. Blend up some banana and strawberry, with a handful of oats, and a serving of almond milk. Add some fat-free yogurt to thicken it up if you prefer.
While smoothies are great, and perfect for filling up on the go, many people find that smoothies don’t make them feel full, despite having all of the nutrition and calories that they need. This is because you drink them instead of eating them. Your body processes drinks differently and makes different associations. Merely eating something off a spoon can make it feel more substantial. That’s why smoothie bowls are growing in popularity as a way to get all the nutrients that you need in an energy-boosting and filling breakfast.
Pancakes can be a great treat. But, they don’t have to be unhealthy. Pancakes can be the perfect protein-packed breakfast. Mash up two bananas, mix in an egg and add a portion of oats. Gently fry in small dollops for healthy scotch pancakes, and serve with fresh blueberries for a tasty treat.
Snacks and Treats
Oats can be perfect for snacks. Baked oats are sweet and chewy and offer a fantastic energy boost when you are flagging in the afternoon. Jammy flapjacks, sunflower oat bars, homemade hobnobs biscuits, oat muffins and scones, and other oaty cookies are all delicious.
A Pudding Topper
If you love a warm stodgy dessert, such as a fruit crumble, adding oats is ideal. An oath crumble is the perfect topping to any fruit-based pudding. Serve with custard or ice cream for a decadent treat.
A wholewheat sandwich load topped with oats can be the perfect healthy alternative to plain white bread. Packed with fiber, protein, and complex carbs, oats add a big boost of nutrition to your lunchtime sandwich.
Alternatively, if you want a loaf of sweet bread, an oat and blueberry loaf can be a healthier and lower-fat alternative to an afternoon slice of cake.