Not Just Your Ordinary Grain

Breakfast with a Bang

We are most familiar with the family of white oats, also known as Avena Sativa. As part of the grasses family, they are a hardy crop and can withstand conditions in which other plants may not survive. These white oats come in several varieties, dependent upon their level of processing. Oats contain high amounts of fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals and more. Overall they aid in lowering disease risk, improving digestion and enhancing weight loss.

Lower Cholesterol, Lower Your Risk:
This is probably the health benefit we associate most with oats these days. Well it’s true, and we have beta-glucan to thank. This type of fiber has been shown to reduce total cholesterol by 8-23% when consuming 3 grams each day. The percentage may not seem like much, but consider that every 1% decrease in cholesterol means a 2% decrease in your risk of heart disease. That’s huge.

Stabilize Blood Sugar & Burn Fat:
As you’ll begin to notice, beta-glucan, is one powerful source of fiber. Consuming this oat bran dense food slows down digestion and extends the amount of time it takes carbohydrates to absorb into the blood stream. The slower the absorption, the more stable our blood sugar, or glucose, levels remain. This is not only beneficial to diabetics and those on a low GI (glycemic index) diet, but it also aids in fat burning. Insulin is released to transport the glucose to be used as energy in our body. When there is a spike in blood sugar, there is a spike in insulin levels. This abundance of insulin indicates to our body that we have enough available energy. So what happens? We stop burning fat and start storing it! The glucose that our body doesn’t burn off turns into fat and gets stored along the rest of the reserves.

Boost Immune Response:
Studies have shown that beta-glucan improves our bodies response to bacterial infection. Our immune defenders are able to locate the bacteria, get to the scene of the crime and eliminate the evidence, all with greater speed. Simply, beta-glucan helps us fight faster.

No matter which variety of oats you choose, you’ll get all of these benefits and more. Here is a breakdown of the types of oats and their nutritional values:

Whole Oats:

Whole oats are oats in their original form. They have been harvested but not yet processed. The outer hull remains intact and requires removal prior to our consumption.

Oat Groats:
Oat groats are whole oats which have been hulled. Leaving the bran and germ intact, oat groats withstand the least amount of processing, preserving the nutritional benefits of the whole oats. They are rice-like in appearance and texture.

Steel-cut Oats:
Steel-cut oats are oat groats that have been passed through steel cutters, chopping each groat into 3-4 pieces. They still contain the nutritional benefits of the whole grain but the smaller pieces make them slightly easier to use than the oat groats.

Rolled Oats:
Rolled oats are oat groats that have been steamed and rolled. This is the most familiar variety of oats.

Instant Oats:
Instant oats are the steel-cut oats that have been steamed and rolled.

Here is a chart comparing the nutritional values of the various oats:

We love to use rolled oats and make a traditional oatmeal with cinnamon, maple syrup or agave. To add some flare and a nutritional boost, we toss in a tbsp of coconut oil. Go for a cobbler approach and toss in some berries while cooking the oats and top with brown sugar. With the oat groats or steel-cut oats, I (Cindy) love to make a raw oatmeal blend.

The antioxidants in the oats make it great for your skin. Mix some in with a face mask or put a few cups in a warm bath to soothe dry and itchy skin.