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Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Ultimate Guide to Oats

What are the health benefits of eating oats?
  •     Oats are rich in fiber, manganese, the B vitamins thiamin and riboflavin, vitamin E, iron, and protein.
  •     Oats are believed to help lower blood cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some cancers. 
  •     Oats have the highest proportion of soluble fiber of any grain. 
  •     The fiber in oats can help improve bowel health.
  •     Oats can aid in weight loss by keeping you feeling full for longer periods of time.
  •     The Mayo Clinic rates oats and oat bran as the #1 foods for reducing bad cholesterol and protecting your heart.

What about the glycemic index (GI)?
First a little background. The glycemic index measures the speed at which a food is digested and converted into blood sugar. Low GI foods are believed to be digested more slowly, keeping you feeling full longer, and help to stabilize blood sugars.

The glycemic index is only part of the health profile of food, because it doesn't identify the nutrients found in food. For example, potato chips have a lower GI than a plain baked potato; most nutritionists would agree that a baked potato is a healthier choice. So, the glycemic index of food is important (particularly for diabetics), but it is only one factor in evaluating the overall health impact of food. 

Here's the scoop about the glycemic index of oats:
  • While there is a difference in the GI of steel cut and rolled oats, it is a negligible difference. They both have a low GI and are considered a healthy choice.
  • Quick and instant oats both have a higher GI, so they may not keep you feeling full as long as groats, steel-cut and old fashioned oats. If you stay away from the pre-packaged sweetened & flavored varieties, plain instant oats are still considered low-glycemic carbs.
  • To lower the GI of instant oatmeal, you can add some protein like milk or nuts. The nuts are also a healthy fat and good for lowering cholesterol. A half scoop of protein powder can be added for a nutrition boost, too.

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