Oatmeal is a very popular breakfast food that consists of oats and a liquid, such as water, cow's milk, or plant-based milk. Full of nutrients and fiber, oats are one of the most nutritious whole-grain foods that a person can consume.
Oats offer many science-backed health benefits, including:
- weight loss
- reduced risk of heart disease
- lower blood sugar
In this article, we list the potential benefits of oatmeal and provide its nutritional information. The benefits include:
Oatmeal contains high levels of antioxidants.
Specifically, it contains polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds that are rich in avenanthramides.
Avenanthramides are a type of antioxidant that exists almost exclusively in oats.
Avenanthramides can benefit people by:
- increasing the production of nitric acid, which can lower blood pressure
- improving blood flow
- reducing inflammation and itching
Oatmeal contains a soluble fiber called beta-glucan that can help improve insulin response and possibly reduce blood sugar too.
People with type 2 diabetes may find that incorporating oatmeal into their diet helps them manage their blood sugar levels, as long as they do not add extra sugar to the dish.
A review of research on the benefits of oatmeal for people with type 2 diabetes found that oatmeal has a positive effect on blood sugar control. The authors stated that more research is necessary to test the safety of oatmeal for people with type 1 diabetes.
Eating low-calorie foods that are high in nutrients can provide a person with the nutrients that their body needs while helping them lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
There is some evidence to back up the claim that oatmeal can support healthy cholesterol levels due to its beta-glucan content.
A 2014 review determined that oatmeal can reduce total cholesterol levels if people consume 3 grams (g) or more of beta-glucan a day.
According to the research, beta glucan decreased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or "bad cholesterol," but did not affect high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or "good cholesterol."
The beta-glucan in oatmeal forms a gel-like substance when it mixes with water. This solution coats the stomach and digestive tract.
The coating feeds good bacteria in the gut, which increases their growth rate and can contribute to a healthy gut.
A small study examining oatmeal's effect on bacterial growth found that it could have a positive effect.
Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber, so people tend to feel full more quickly after eating it than they do after consuming other foods.
Feeling full can help a person reduce their portion size and achieve their weight loss goals.
Researchers looking at the effect of oatmeal on appetite concluded that it increased fullness and decreased the desire to eat for the next 4 hours.
Asthma is a common condition that often develops during childhood. There is some evidence to suggest that specific foods can be a risk factor for developing asthma, while others may reduce the risk.
For example, a study of 3,781 children determined that those who ate oats as one of their first foods were less likely to develop asthma by the age of 5 years. Other foods that may reduce the risk include:
- barley cereals
Constipation is a common gastrointestinal problem that affects almost everyone at some point.
The fiber in oatmeal can help keep waste in the gastrointestinal tract moving, which can relieve or prevent constipation.
Oatmeal includes several key nutrients.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one cup of cooked oatmeal contains:
- 166 calories
- 5.94 g of protein
- 4.00 g of dietary fiber
- 3.56 g of fat
Oatmeal is available in several different varieties, including:
- oat groat
Oat groat takes the longest to cook, as it comprises whole oats. Steel-cut, crushed, and rolled oats take less time to prepare.
Unless the packaging says otherwise, people can make oatmeal by boiling the oats in cow's milk, plant-based milk, or water. Cooking times will vary and can range from 10 to 60 minutes.
To cook oatmeal, a person should follow the instructions on the packaging. The steps will usually involve:
- bringing 1.5 cups of milk or water to the boil
- stirring in one-half of a cup of oats
- reducing the heat to medium
- simmering for 10 to 20 minutes for steel-cut, crushed, or rolled oats
- simmering for 50 to 60 minutes for oat groat
- stirring in additional optional ingredients, such as spices or sweeteners
Although instant varieties of oatmeal usually cook very quickly, they are also the most processed. Instant oatmeal often contains added sugar and preservatives.
Oatmeal is one of the most nutritious breakfast foods. It may help a person lose weight, reduce their risk of heart disease, and lower their blood sugar levels.
It is best to choose varieties of oatmeal that are less processed and to limit added sugars.