What is Oatmeal?
Avena sativa or oats is a whole grain cereal that is a popular breakfast choice for people world over. They are annual grass like wheat. In its natural form, oats are fed to livestock but when they are rolled, crushed, ground or steel-cut, they are consumed by humans. Oats are usually boiled with water or milk, and the resulting dish is known as oatmeal. The most popular topping is fruit and sugar in oatmeal all over the world. With increasing demands to make oats palatable in forms other than its usual porridge self, people have come up with innovative ways to add them to one’s diet. So idlis, dosas, uttapams, cookies, cakes, pies, and smoothies made from oats are gaining more popularity with the passage of time.
Advantages of Including Oatmeal in Your Regular Diet
Numerous advantages eating oatmeal provides to the human health. Oats are rich in essential nutrients and minerals like thiamin, zinc, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus and selenium. A bowl of oatmeal provides a substantial part of the body’s daily requirement of fiber, essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and protein. Read on to find out the benefits of oatmeal.
Benefits of Oatmeal
- Lowers Blood Sugar
Oats are rich in beta-glucan, a potent soluble fiber that helps to keep the glycemic index low. The high fiber content improves insulin sensitivity and assists in the delayed release of glucose in the blood leading to more stable sugar levels. Those who are overweight or have Type 2 diabetes have shown a considerable reduction in their blood sugar levels.
- Improves Cardiac Health
Oats are rich in antioxidants and are full of fiber. The antioxidants improve heart’s health by fighting off free radicals, and the fiber helps to reduce the LDL or bad cholesterol. The plant lignans present in this cereal ensure protection against heart disease. Another nutrient that benefits the cardiac system is vitamin E which is present in large amounts in oats. According to some researches, oats are the number one whole grains that help in reducing cholesterol as they hamper the absorption of those harmful substances that cause heart disease.
- Good for Digestive System
Oats are rich in soluble fiber that increases the time the food spends in the intestines. This fiber cleans the gut as it travels through it. They are also full of insoluble fiber that helps consolidate stool and adds weight to it and thus regulates bowel movement. Moreover, oats help prevent colorectal cancer apart from treating constipation.
- Lowers the Risk of Cancer
Oats are rich in lignans that fight off cancer-related to hormonal disturbances like ovarian, breast and prostate cancer. In conjugation with vitamin C and the abundant antioxidants present, oats help to combat free radicals that cause cancer. Oatmeal is rich in avenanthramides, unique compounds which fight inflammation and harness the maniacal growth of cancer cells without having any harmful effect on the healthy cells.
- Reduces Hypertension
Here is a fact for you- having a bowl of oats daily decreases the risk of developing hypertension by 22 percent. The soluble fiber in this cereal helps to clean up the arteries and veins and shows tremendous benefits in those who already suffer from high blood pressure. A staple diet of oats also reduces dependence on medications for hypertension. Oats are also comforted food. They cut the number of stress hormones in the body and increase serotonin, the hormone that produces a sense of wellbeing and happiness.
- Boost the Immune System
White blood cells, the sentinels of the immune system, have special receptors for the absorption of beta-glucan, the soluble fiber. This component boosts the white blood cells’ health and helps them fight off infections. Also, it makes the body more sensitive to antibiotics and accelerates healing in case of wounds. If you have recently gone through some emotional or physical stress, you will benefit from eating oats. Beta glucans are also highly effective in increasing immunity in cases of radiation and chemotherapy. Zinc and selenium are two minerals that improve immunity and oats are rich in both of them. Oats help fight off respiratory infections, and research has found that those babies who start of eating oats earlier are protected against asthma.
- Help in Weight Management
Oats are rich in fiber that fills up the tummy quicker than non-fiber breakfasts. They also lead to a slow release of glucose in the blood, and this keeps one satiated for longer and prevent binge-eating. People who eat oats regularly tend to have a stable weight and are less vulnerable to obesity. Oats also fight off abdominal fat. However, choose plain oats rather than the prepackaged flavored ones as they are full of sugar that can hamper weight loss plans.
- Improves Bone Health
Oats are rich in silicon that is important for skeletal health. Women with postmenopausal osteoporosis benefit significantly from eating oats regularly as an oats breakfast helps to improve bone health.
- Boosts Energy
Oats are rich in carbohydrates, and this makes them an ideal breakfast companion. The high amounts of B vitamins are another reason why oats boost the energy levels in the body. Since the fiber component is high, oats keep you feel fuller for longer, and you face less of the energy dumps.
- Good for the Skin
Oats are rich in zinc that is important for fighting off pimples. Oats help to soak up excess oil on the skin and are an essential part of acne treatments. They also help to treat dry and itchy skin as the beta-glucans help to moisturize the skin. Oats also work as an efficient anti-tanning agent and help lighten the skin tone.
- Good for the Hair
Oatmeal has unexpected benefits for the hair as well. It treats an itchy scalp and soaks up extra oil. Oats are a useful antidote to the dandruff problem. When applied over areas that are experiencing hair loss, oats work wonders as they strengthen hair follicles and prevent hair damage. Oats masks moisturize the scalp and make it silky and shiny.
- Helps Deal with Menopause
Certain researches point towards the health benefits of eating oats during menopause. Being rich in fiber, oats help to deal with mood swings and irritability caused due to fluctuating hormone levels.
- Improve Sleep Quality
Eating oats help in the production of melatonin which is essential for sleeping. They also release serotonin that helps you feel relaxed and reduces stress. Oats have Tryptophan, an amino acid that has sedative properties.
Choose a bowl of oats over any other type of breakfast to reap the innumerable benefits of oats. Have in the form of sweet of savory oatmeal and add toppings of your choice to keep your taste buds tingling.