There are many ways you can eat a daily portion in order to get the benefits of oats. So, if you dislike oatmeal, fear not, because there are so many variations of oat-based breakfast that are tasty and quick to prepare.
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In this article, I’ll give you options for oat-based breakfasts and how to rotate your options every day to make them interesting.
First, I’ll discuss all the incredible health benefits of this grain. We are all familiar with the fact that oats are supposed to be good for you.
A warm bowl of oats is synonymous with being heavy and filling. But there are ways to turn this grain into something much more once you understand what’s in it and why it can be good for you.
As always, on this blog, I discuss the benefits of foods as it also pertains to the benefit of healing. So, I’ll also point out the specific healing qualities of this grain and how you can leverage that to your advantage if you have a health condition or ailment*.
In this article:
- Health benefits of Oats
- Why you should eat Oats
- Side effects of Oats
- Breakfast rotation menu
Health benefits of Oats
There are many varieties of oats on the market. The most popular are instant oats simply because they meet the needs of our busy lives. No one wants to slow-cook oats every morning, there’s just no time and it’s become a bit irrelevant with all the amazing instant pots of overnight oats options. But more on that further on.
I use rolled oats in my recipes, but you can choose the variety you like most. Steel-cut oats, oat groats, and steel-cut oats are the least processed, so consider that and whether they’re easy to find in your neighborhood.
Rolled oats are less processed than the conventional type. Especially the ones we know as instant oats. These are heavily processed and contain so much sugar that they can spike insulin levels1. I use the gluten-free kind because it doesn’t contain allergens.
Be aware that gluten-free is not the same as wheat-free. So food can be wheat-free and still contain gluten, for example, Rye and Barley.
Gluten has less fiber. That’s where the association between weight gain and weight loss comes from. But you can still consume oats (even ones with gluten) in moderation and avoid weight gain.
It should only be avoided if you know you’re allergic to it and have been tested.
Natural oats are whole grains because the wheat and the germ remain intact even after processing. So, oats are made up mainly of carbs and fats, lesser of protein.
Nutrition constituents in Oats
According to a scientific study, it’s better to get at least half (or more) of your daily grain intake from whole grains because that could help you live longer2. Especially as it relates to heart disease because oats are heart-healthy and it helps reduce the risk of disease by lowering blood pressure. This is mainly due to its antioxidant content in avenanthramides3.
Better yet, oats also play a role in lowering cholesterol because it contains Beta-glucan. These are soluble fibers from the walls of some fungi and plant foods. They contain antioxidants that protect cell walls from LDL4or the bad cholesterol we’re all keen to avoid. So eating oats can affect your cholesterol profile in a good way.
Oats are also a fantastic food for weight loss because it has loads of Fiber and is a low GI food. Fiber aids digestion and the low GI (glycaemic index) allows the body to release energy slowly. This prolonged effect helps control appetite so you don’t binge when you have an energy slump.
Consuming oats daily has resulted in some eaters having a smaller waistline and lower BMI according to research5. So, although it has tons of carbs, fear not, it can aid in slimming down in a healthier way, one that has longevity. Oats are also very low in sugar – only 1% is derived from sucrose6. Great if you’re mindful of how much sugar you’re consuming.
Eating oats in excess is not the fast road to weight loss. Eat it in a balanced and moderate way focusing more on getting the benefits you need in adequate portions instead of overcompensating (loading up on oats).
Should you eat oats every day?
Oats are still a great way to start the day, but some people may hate the idea of a bowl of heavy, warm oats every morning. I like to keep things interesting by rotating the meal options each day.
Here’s what I like to do:
- Day 1: Oatmeal
- Day 2: Baked Oat bars
- Day 3: Granola
- Day 4: Oat & Banana pancakes
- Day 5: Oatmeal (rolled oats) or Granola
- Day 6: Oat & Banana pancakes
- Day 7: Oat smoothie/bowl
This way you’re eating oatmeal twice a week. It’s a great strategy to vary it if you dislike eating oatmeal every day.
When you’re working 9 to 5 and have to rush off into a hurried commute or get kids to school, this is the best part:
You only need to meal prep breakfast once a week. Here’s how:
- Prep the Granola once on Sunday. Use your Mise-en-Place to scale the recipe so that you have enough portions for each day that you have it.
- Prep and cook the Oat & Banana pancakes on Sunday also. Portion them out in BPA-free, freezer-safe, silicon pouches for the week.
- Batch prep the smoothie packs in BPA silicon pouches also.
- Bake one sheet pan of oat bars, and cut them into square slices. Store in between baking paper in an airtight container.
- Overnight oats can be prepared on Sunday so they last in the back of the fridge for up to 5 days. Alternatively, you can meal prep overnight oats twice a week. Prepare one batch on Sunday evening (for Day 1) and the other on Day 4.
- Overnight Oats – last in the fridge for up to 5 days
- Granola – lasts up to 1 week in an airtight container
- Baked oat bars – last up to 1 week in an airtight container
- Oat & Banana pancakes – freezer-friendly in batches
- Oat smoothie/smoothie bowl – freezer-friendly in batches
This mini breakfast eating plan adds variety, keeping it interesting while incorporating nutritional balance.
But more so, it’s about cravings.
I prefer variety because I’m not eliminating or denying myself what I crave to eat.
Adding a portion of protein, healthy fats, and other macronutrients ensures that my early morning meals are balanced, not excessive, and optimized for nutritional intake.
How many times a day can you eat oats?
Oats (complex carbs) are low GI as they provide a slow release of energy. It makes them a great breakfast option because they give you the best type of fuel for the day. They won’t spike your blood sugar (the way simple carbs do) because they stabilize it.
You can eat oats as an ingredient in other foods (recipes) but also consume other macronutrients to balance it out. Complex carbs are good for you, but ensure you’re eating enough protein and healthy fats.
So, breakfast is the best time to eat oats because it provides that foundation to load up on fuel at the start of your day.
If you’re prone to late afternoon energy slumps or get hungry, eat a protein instead of oats. Reserve the craving for carbs for dinner time. Have a protein-based, mid-afternoon snack. It’ll control your appetite and prevents you from bingeing.
Will you get sick from eating too many oats?
Overeating and bingeing on any food is also not a healthy eating practice. Moderation and balance are best.
So, what would one define as too many oats?
Portion size is calculated on the average amount consumed by a set of people in their resident country, so it’s relative to that. This is a good place to start when establishing whether you’re eating too much or too little.
One of the benefits of Oats is their high Fiber content. Conversely, if you consume too much of it, you could suffer from bloating and gastric discomfort. You should eat no more than two portions of oats per day. When you eat balanced meals throughout the day, oatmeal for breakfast or an oats recipe should suffice.
Also, consider the allergens that Oats contain and whether they affect you in any way.
Allergens found in Oats that could cause sensitivity:
Gluten – Gluten is a protein found in Wheat7. Gluten sensitivity is also related to Celiac disease which affects the small intestine. Bear in mind that sometimes cross-contamination does occur in the processing of oats. This doesn’t apply to gluten-free versions.
Avenin – This is also a protein, but found in Oats. It’s similar to Gluten but more tolerant for people with Celiac disease8. This allergen can affect air passages, skin, and the gut9. The symptoms are mild to moderate, but if concerned, monitor yourself for symptoms. If you spot any consult your doctor. They would be able to advise you on necessary testing.
Aside from the allergens found in Oats, it also contains a range of nutritious content that is great for building overall health.
Beneficial nutrients found in Oats:
Oats are high in Fibre which helps with bowel movement. It also contains Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Selenium, and Vitamin B1.
- Zinc is beneficial for tissue and wound healing.
- Iron is an essential mineral that transports oxygen to red blood cells. Magnesium is beneficial for cardiovascular health because it supports the contraction of heart muscles.
- Selenium is a trace mineral, meaning you only need a small amount of it, and it’s vital for immunity and neurological function.
- Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamin, is beneficial for brain health especially concerning memory and cognitive function
- Oats also contain Phosphorus, an essential mineral that is used to build healthy bones, produce energy and create new cells.
- Manganese is needed for bone health and, in conjunction with other minerals, assists in building bone density10.
- Copper is another mineral that’s beneficial for heart health.
- As mentioned oats contain Avenathramides, powerful antioxidants that help reduce inflammation.
- Oats also contain Ferulic Acid, a polyphenol found in plants whose antioxidant content helps protect against disease.
- Phytic acid found in oats also has antioxidants and soaking it helps break down this nutrient so that the absorption of other minerals becomes easier.
Could these cause a negative effect if you consume too much oats?
It’s important to consider the above facts with your personal experience. Base your decision on that.
I recommend one portion of an oat-based recipe per day. For example, oatmeal or granola, and should be adequate. If you like oats that much, try to include them in other recipes.
The way you cook or bake oats varies from recipe to recipe and heat plays a role as well. It can decrease the potency of nutrients in oats during the cooking process. So, if it’s just the mouthfeel of oats that you’re after, then maybe consume it in other ways to satisfy that and where the nutritional intake is not as crucial.
Caveat: It will still be healthful.
It’s best to store dry oats in an airtight container – I’ve also outlined this in the recipe’s Cook’s notes. Dry oats will last up to two years. But, trust your gut, if they start to give off an odor or you spot insects, discard them and restock.
Oats have an incredible amount of nutritional value, so if you’re not a fan of oatmeal, you have plenty of options. This is what healthy cooking is all about.
Remember Oats can be a healthy craving swap when you experiment and start having fun with it as an ingredient, and not just a standalone food, like oatmeal.
Be mindful of your existing allergies or health conditions and consume oats in a way that suits your needs. There’s no need to consume more than is necessary because you can get all the daily nutrition you need from a single serving.
Use this grain thoughtfully based on your health needs, taste appeal, and cooking style. This is what culinary nutrition is all about – versatility, an understanding of your ingredients, and mindful eating.
If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love this blog post dedicated to Granola.
Feel free to leave a comment below, I value all feedback.
*consult your healthcare practitioner before ingesting adaptogens if using them for the first time.
*cravenutritionalcooking.com does not give medical advice. Where there is a reference to it, the phrasing is merely used to illustrate a point or give context to food and cooking for nutrition information. It is not related to a specific condition or any specific individual. Always consult your healthcare professional for medical and dietetic advice before embarking on any type of eating plan or ingesting nutritional supplements.
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