Food for Thought: Why are Oats so good for me?

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Oats are the only grain to be singled out as a true Super Food; all the others are lumped together in the Honorable Mention category as “whole grains”.  So what makes oats such a shining nutritional star? If you eat oatmeal for breakfast every morning, are you doing a good thing for your health?  The research says yes…read on!


Health and Nutritional Benefits of Oats or Oatmeal

  • Very high in manganese
  • Good source of selenium, tryptophan, phosphorus, Vitamin B1, and magnesium
  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal has over 15% DV of fiber and just under 15% DV protein, not bad for an easy breakfast!!  Pair it with milk to complete and increase that protein value.

All this improves your health in the following areas:

  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease (especially for elderly and post-menopausal women)
  • Enhances immune response to infection
  • Stabilizes blood sugar (especially for breakfast and when the rest of your day includes fiber-rich foods)
  • Lowers type 2 diabetes risk
  • Decreases asthma symptoms
  • Lowers risk of cancer, especially colon and breast cancers
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Bowel regularity
  • Weight control

Sources:  1 2 3

Why are Oats even more Healthy than Other Grains?

  1. Oats have balanced soluble and insoluble fiber, which plays into many of the health benefits listed above.
  2. Oats have a lower glycemic index than most other grains.  This means they won’t impact the blood sugar as drastically but will be digested/release energy at a more constant, slow rate than other grains, especially processed white flour.  It’s the soluble fiber that is responsible for this little wonder.  Glycemic index is very important for diabetics, but is something to be aware of for all people who wish to remain in good health.
  3. Oats are a good energy booster without the crash:  “Oats have been shown in scientific studies to favorably alter metabolism and enhance performance when ingested 45 minutes to 1 hour before exercise of moderate intensity.” (Eat More
  4. Oats are generally higher in protein than other grains.
  5. Oats have gotten some great press and good research about being star players in the lower cholesterol battle.

How to Use and Store Oats

“Store oatmeal in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for approximately two months.” (source)  I am always surprised when doing my research at how (not) long I should be keeping certain things around.  Apparently the fat content of oats is slightly higher than other grains, and it’s the fat that goes rancid.  Oats are going to go bad sooner than wheat flour, etc. Something to think about when buying in bulk, or just stocking up like I do!
UPDATE: Very little of this great health info applies to “instant oatmeal” which is processed too much and often includes sweeteners and fillers. Quick oats are better than instant, but if you want all the health benefits, buy rolled oats at the very least, and to get even closer to the field (less processed), go with steel-cut oats or whole oat groats. (An oat groat is just the WHOLE oat. It looks like a seed a little bit.) Both steel-cut and oat groats take longer to cook in the morning, and if you buy oat groats, you may want to Google the proper way to prepare them. They take a bit more work.

See the Monday Mission and further posts this week (granola and granola bars) for ideas to use oats often.

Sidenote: Sunflower seeds too

Sunflower seeds tend to make a great pair with oatmeal in many recipes, and they happen to be a full-fledged Super Food on their own. There are some seriously potent nutrients in those little seeds!


Health and Nutritional Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

  • SUPER high vitamin E and B1 (1/4 cup has over 90% of E and 50% of B1!)
  • High in folate (over 25% DV in ¼ cup), especially important for pregnant women
  • Great source of selenium, an important but hard-to-find nutrient
  • Good source of manganese, magnesium, copper, tryptophan, phosphorus, and Vitamin B5
  • 8 g protein and almost 4 g fiber in that quarter cup!

All this improves your health in the following areas:

  • Anti-inflammatory (reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Cardiovascular (prevents free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol)
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Prevents migraine headaches
  • Healthy bones, nerves
  • More energy
  • Cancer prevention
  • The fiber and protein help curb hunger; great for dieting or a quick snack that needs to satisfy

Only one caution: sunflower seeds are high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, which Americans tend to have too much of in their diets.  Don’t overdo it!

How to Store and Use Sunflower Seeds

It is best to store sunflower seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  That being said, I’ve always stored mine in the pantry. Hmph.  There’s only so much room in the fridge around my house!  I guess the main tips then become:

  • Watch their smell to see if they’re going rancid.
  • Don’t buy more than you can use in a timely fashion!

Sunflower seeds make a great snack on their own, and are an easy addition to:

  1. Lettuce salads
  2. Muffins (on top or inside)
  3. Granola and granola bars
  4. Cereal/oatmeal
  5. In tuna or chicken salad

Source:  World’s Healthiest Foods

Photo Sources:

This post is part of “What I Learned This Week” at Musings of a Housewife, Talk About Tuesday at The Lazy Organizer, and Real Food Wednesday at Cheeseslave.

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If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Other Super Food Health Benefits:

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5 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    This is so interesting! Fortunately for me, I love oats. Now I need some ideas for creative ways to get them in our diet more often.

    Musings of a Housewife’s last blog post..What I Learned This Week (Vol. 20)

    [Reply to this comment]

    warren jefferson Reply:

    What kind of oats to buy? Are rolled oats okay?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Yes, rolled oats are good for you. I should go back and edit the post – good question! The less processed, the better, so if you find you like steel cut or even whole oat groats for porridge, go with those. (My husband doesn’t, so we use rolled all the time.)

    [Reply to this comment]

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