Believe it or not, oats are one of the healthiest grains on the planet. Oats are typically undervalued because of thier high carb levels.
Raw oats contain approximately 66% carbs. However, since nearly 11% of oats carbs are fiber, oats are a carb that’s worth it.
Not only are oats naturally gluten-free, but they are an excellent source of essential fiber and several bioactive compounds such as phenolic composites, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
What Are Oats?
Oats, scientifically referred to as Avena sativa, are a wholegrain cereal belonging to the Poaceae grass species. The oasts that are a breakfast staple in most kitchens are the edible seeds of oat grass.
There are several types of oats you may come across at the market. Oat groats are the include the whole oat, and therefore they have longer cooking times than other types of oats.
Consequently, most people favor crushed, rolled, or steel-cut oats. Instant oats, also known as quick oats, are the most processed type of oats and have the shortest cooking time. The only drawback of instant oats is thier mushy texture and consistency.
In contrast, rolled oats are a variety that undergoes light processing. Rolled oats are produced from de-husked and steamed oat groats, and they are then rolled into flat flakes using heavy rollers and stabilized by lightly toasting them.
Rolled oats are not as mushy as instant oats, but they have a chewier texture. Steel-cut oats are processed with steel blades that cut the groats into two to three pinhead-sized pieces. Steel-cut oats are known for their firm and chewy texture even after they have been cooked.
Oats are prepared as oatmeal or porridge for breakfast. However, they can also be used to make muffins, cookies, quick bread or yeast breads, granola bars, and other baked goods.
Interesting Facts About Oats
Oats are one of the earliest cereal grains known to man. Even though oats appeared in ancient China around 7,000 B.C, the Greeks were the first ones to use them to make porridge.
Another interesting thing about oats is that they are not processed like regular whole grains. The hull of the oat is not attached to the endosperm, which means it has higher fat levels than other cereal grains. The hull’s interior contains the groat, which represents 68–72 % of the kernel.
Unfortunately, even though oats have many health benefits, only 5 percent of the oats world crop is eaten by humans. Oats are largely used as feed for livestock.
Oatmeal month is observed every January, which also happens to be the month the most oats are purchased. The preferred oatmeal toppings include fruits like raisins or bananas, sugar, and milk. Oatmeal cookies are the primary dish for oats outside of oatmeal.
However, oatmeal can also be used to stretch ground meats for dishes such as tacos, or pasta, which is the second most popular use outside of oatmeal. Simply add 1/2-1 cup of cooked steel-cut oats to the skillet when you are browning your ground beef, chicken, pork, or turkey.
Oats are also an excellent, healthy substitute for breadcrumbs when you are making meatloaf or meatballs. You add an extra dose of fiber, and no one will be able to tell that there are oats in thier meatballs or meatloaf.
The oats will act as a binder in your meatloaf or meatballs and create a tender texture. Oats are also an excellent choice for smoothies.
It’s an excellent way to add more fiber to your smoothies, and it will also thicken your smoothie. However, steel-cut oats should be avoided in smoothies. Use instant oats or old-fashioned oats.
The Health Benefits Of Oats
Oats have several health benefits, such as lowering blood cholesterol and sugar levels, reducing hypertension, and stimulating weight loss. In addition to this, oats can also help to manage childhood asthma.
Oats also possess immunomodulatory, antioxidant, and antiatherogenic properties.
Furthermore, oats contain notable amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. These compounds regulate intestinal transportation times and help gut microbia to generate more butyrate and other fecal short-chain fatty acids.
Therefore oats can have a long-term benefit in individuals diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal adenoma, or cancer. Nevertheless, more research studies are required to examine the effect of increased oat consumption as a treatment for bowel disorders.
Oats also have a hypoglycaemic effect. Research suggests consuming oats can lower insulin response, blood glucose levels, and the amount of postprandial hyperglycemia.
In addition to this, oats may also prevent cancer. Oats contain selenium which is responsible for repairing DNA and correlated with a decreased risk for cancer, particularly colon cancer.
Similarly, oats may also reduce hypertension. Oats are rich in soluble fibers that can be used as a preventative method as well as a supplemental treatment for hypertension.
Furthermore, oats have immunomodulatory effects. The soluble fiber β-glucan is responsible for this effect as it stimulates the immune system and prevents the growth of several bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
β-glucans have also been said to decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by increasing the viscosity of intestinal chime, which may aid the repression of hepatic cholesterol synthesis. β-glucan is the major component that’s responsible for the health benefits of oats.
Several studies assert that consuming 3 grams or more of β-glucan from oats or barely while maintaining a diet that’s low in cholesterol and saturated fats can decrease your risks of developing coronary heart disease.
Whether you love or hate the mushy hearty texture of oats, they offer you a host of nutritional benefits. From decreasing blood cholesterol and sugar levels to decreasing hypertension and promoting weight loss to stretching meats and acting as a binder in meatloaf, oats are definitely a carb that’s worth it.