People often ask me “Is oatmeal good for you?”
This question usually comes up because they have been told that because oatmeal is high in carbohydrate it is bad or unhealthy.
End of story!
Well, I’m here to tell you otherwise. By looking into the real nutritional facts behind oatmeal you will see that not only is it good for your waist line but it is also great for your health.
But first a bit of background info.
Oatmeal has been consumed for centuries by both man and beast. In fact even now oats are used more as a livestock feed than as food for people.
Oats are very popular in the temperate zones because it does not require as much sunlight as other grains such as wheat and barley to grow.
Oats can tolerate much lower summer temperatures and much higher rainfall than most other cereal varieties.
They have even been successfully grown in Iceland too because of their tolerance to much lower temperatures.
Lately there has been a lot of interest in oatmeal because of its supposed health benefits. In fact the FDA has authorized that oats manufacturers can print on their nutritional label that consuming oats can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases when coupled with a low fat diet.
Oatmeal has been a staple of my breakfast for many years. It is incredible at keeping me full for long periods of time and feeding my body and muscles the essential complex carbohydrates I need to fuel my long workouts and pack on lean muscle mass.
I love to sprinkle cinnamon in my oatmeal for a calorie free addition that really adds to the flavor.
Let’s take a look at the facts and see if Oatmeal can help you achieve a lean, sexy beach body while improving your health.
Why is Oatmeal Good For You?
Oat is a cereal… that’s obvious!
The problem with the majority of the highly packaged (and advertised) cereal Americans eat these days is that it’s highly processed.
This means that it is usually only the endosperm of the seed that makes up the cereal that is usually eaten, and the endosperm is basically pure carbohydrates.
Oatmeal on the other hand is unprocessed.
This means that it contains the cereal germ, the bran and the endosperm.
The nutritional value of oatmeal is therefore much better than most other processed cereals.
I have chosen Oatmeal as a staple to my breakfast routine for years now – and have reaped the benefits. Oatmeal does an incredible job at keeping me full – and giving me long sustained energy for my intense workouts.
Even when compared to other whole grains such as wheat or barley, oatmeal is more nutrient dense.
It is however not for its nutrition content that oatmeal is becoming so popular. It is because of its benefits in weight control and cardiovascular health that people are slowly moving towards including oatmeal in their diet.
Fiber – Oatmeal’s Special Advantage
The main benefit of oatmeal is that it is full of fiber and will keep you full for longer periods of time. Oatmeal is basically rolled oats. This means that there is no processing done, which leaves all the fiber in the oats itself.
What many people don’t realize is that fiber, although it has zero nutritive value, helps a lot in our health because of what it does.
Fiber is basically cellulose, which we can’t digest.
Because it is so hard to digest, it remains behind in our digestive system for much longer than any other food. This means that if sufficient fiber is consumed, you will not feel hungry for much longer than if you eat any other food.
Also the fiber inhibits the body’s ability to absorb carbohydrates. This means that there is less of a spike in our blood sugar levels than eating any other form of cereal.
Plus the fiber ensures that our digestive system is very clean by forming the bulk of our stools. This reduces any strain when we defecate and also allows much freer motion.
It is also very low in fat and contains beta glucans, which when coupled with a low fat diet will help us in keeping cardiovascular diseases at bay. Hence the FDA approved claim on the cover.
Before you start thinking considering eating oatmeal at every meal… well maybe breakfast at least… there is one downside that you need to consider.
Oatmeal Has a Downside? Say What?
The only problem that oatmeal has is that it is a cereal.
Yes, I know I said unprocessed cereal was good but just hear me out…
Although full of fiber, oatmeal is also full of carbohydrates.
While the inclusion of the bran and the germ ensures that there are other nutrients too, it is mostly carbohydrates. This means that just like any other cereal, oats may not be a good option for diabetics.
This is why we eat oatmeal for breakfast of course. If you consume oatmeal for breakfast it will help fuel you through your day and give your body long sustained carbohydrates. Make sure you are not consuming oatmeal late at night or you could risk the excess carbohydrates being stored as fat when you are at rest.
This is because carbohydrates from cereal is absorbed very quickly in the gut. Even with all its fiber that inhibits fat absorbtion, oats will give a huge spike in blood sugar levels after consumption.
There are cases where people have reported their blood sugar levels spiking from around the 100mg/DL to 220 – 230mg/DL range.
While this may not be too much of a problem for healthy individuals, and even for heart patients, for diabetics, this is very bad news.
People who have diabetes therefore should always consult with their doctor before they eat oats.
Apart from this one problem though oatmeal is very good for health and is one of the best breakfast foods available. Just make sure you don’t eat too much and consume more calories than you need.
Quick, Healthy Oatmeal Recipe
Checkout this quick video (approx. 2 minutes) showing you how to make oatmeal from steel cut oats the night before, saving you time in the morning.
What do you think about oatmeal? Do you eat it often or avoid it because it’s high carb? Share your comments below!