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An Ode to Oats

Posted on May 29, 2013 | No Comments on An Ode to Oats

As kids, it never stood a chance – compared to the bright, colorful cereal boxes adorned with smiling, friendly cartoon characters, the grey, slimy mush infamously known as “oatmeal-it’s-good-for-you” is almost always met with a “Yuck!” or “Ew!” from the younger eaters at the breakfast table.

And so early on, parents gave up on what in reality is a healthy, cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering, anti-cancer bowl of goodness. Oatmeal, when taken without excessive sugar or creams, has many health benefits and contains seven B vitamins, vitamin E, antioxidants, and nine minerals, including iron
and calcium.

Oat kernels look very much like wheat in structure—they have an outer covering of bran which protects the starchy endosperm and the germ that sits at the bottom of the grain. Because the oat kernel is soft, the nutritious bran is not removed. One ounce of whole grain oats has twice the protein of wheat or corn flakes.
For people with diabetes, the benefits are particularly worthy of note.

Oats are known to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. Eating three bowls of oatmeal (28 gram servings) daily can decrease total cholesterol by about 5 mg/dL. Oat bran products (oat bran muffins, oat bran flakes, etc.) may vary in their ability to lower cholesterol, depending on the total soluble fiber content. The US FDA recommends that approximately 3 grams of soluble fiber be taken daily to lower blood cholesterol levels. However, according to controlled clinical studies, at least 3.6 grams of soluble fiber daily is needed to lower cholesterol.

Oatmeal also helps both reduce and control blood sugar levels. Eating oats and oat bran for 6 weeks significantly decreases before-meal blood sugar, 24-hour blood sugar, and insulin levels in people with
type 2 diabetes. As the beta-glucan in the soluble fiber of oats is digested, it forms a gel. Researchers postulate that while this gel is in your intestines, it sticks to cholesterol and prevents or slows it down from being absorbed. This slowing down of the digestion prolongs the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream which helps eliminate dramatic changes in blood sugar levels. So instead of cholesterol getting in your system and into your arteries, it is simply gotten rid of as waste.

Studies also show that consuming 50 grams of oat bran daily (containing 25 grams of soluble fiber), might be more effective than the moderate fiber diet of 24 grams daily recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

Here are a few oatmeal brands currently available at major supermarkets:

“Rolled”, “Instant”, “Premium” – Which one?
It’s natural, especially for the Filipino palate, to want some sweetness in one’s oatmeal. But that’s the key—”natural.” Manufacturers like Quaker Oats, hove individual packets available as the ideal serving of 34 grams. Be sure to check the nutrition facts and calorie counts for each kind of flavored pack cis they may vary significantly (the Apples & Cinnamon flavor has 130 calories while Maple & Brown Sugar has 160 calories). Keeping that in mind, here is a breakdown of the different types of oats.

Oat groats: All types of oat cereals start out as groats, which are hulled, toasted oat grains.(Removing the hull doesn’t remove the bran, by the way.)

Steel-cut (Irish) oats: These are the least processed type of oat cereal. The toasted oat groats ore simply chopped into chunks about the size of a sesame seed.

Stone-ground (Scottish) oats: These are the same as Irish oats but they are ground into smaller pieces, closer to the size of a poppy seed. Both Irish and Scottish oats have to be cooked before you eat them. Irish oats take about 45 minutes to cook, Scottish oats about half that long (because they are smaller.

Old-fashioned rolled oats: These are made by steaming the toasted groats and then running them between rollers to create flakes. Rolled oats can be eaten as is or cooked into oatmeal (it takes about ten minutes.

Quick-cooking oats: These are simply rolled into thinner flakes, so they cook a little faster.

Instant oats: These ore the most heavily processed. The groats have been chopped fine, flattened, precooked, and dehydrated. Instant oatmeal usually hos added salt and sugar so it’s probably best to leave the instant oats on the shelf. In the time it takes you to boil the water to make instant oatmeal, you con cook some old-fashioned oats in the microwave.

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