What’s So Bad About Oats?

Oats seem to be getting a bad rap across social media recently.  Whether you are a loyal oat eater or thinking about including them in your routine, it’s understandable to wonder whether they are the best option out there.  

Let’s take a look at the trusty oat in a little more detail and check out some of their health benefits. 

What are Oats?

Oats (Avena sativa) are a cereal commonly eaten in the form of oatmeal or rolled oats.

They are touted to have a number of benefits:

The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine in 2008 found that eating foods rich in whole-oat sources of soluble fibre (oats, oat bran, and oat flour) may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Not only that but the intake of fibre has been associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.  A study considered evidence across nearly 2 million people from Britain and The Netherlands and found for every additional 10g of fibre in someone’s diet, there is a 10 percent reduction in colorectal cancer risk.  This includes the intake of cereal fibre and whole grains. 

In addition, it is thought that oats may play an important role in improving satiety (the feeling of fullness), diet quality, and digestive, cardiovascular, and general metabolic health.

Oats also contain a range of molecules that act as antioxidants; this includes avenanthramides, which are polyphenols. Avenanthramides may play a role in keeping blood pressure low by increasing nitric oxide production. They are also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.  

They are also seen to have anti-itch activity when applied topically. 

Oats are rich in a specific type of fibre called beta-glucan.  Not only are beta-glucans thought to lower blood cholesterol levels, but they are thought to have immune system stimulating effects, helping you fight off pathogens (and potential cancer activity).  They also play a role in modulating blood glucose levels.  

Nutritional Value of Oats

If you’re a number’s person, here’s the 411 on the nutritional value of oats:

100 grams of oats provides:

  • 51 percent of the daily recommended intake of thiamine
  • 8 percent riboflavin
  • 5 percent niacin
  • 6 percent vitamin B6
  • 14 percent folate 
  • 13 percent pantothenic acid
  • 26 percent iron
  • 44 percent magnesium
  • 52 percent phosphorus
  • 12 percent potassium 
  • 26 percent zinc
  • 31 percent copper
  • 246 percent manganese

So what’s so bad about them?

Many dislike oats because they contain phytic acid which impairs the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium, and more.  It also blocks the production of digestive enzymes, making oats much harder on your stomach. 

However, you can reduce the phytic acid content of your oats by soaking and cooking – which if we’re honest, is the only way to eat oats!  Whether you are making porridge, flapjacks or overnight oats!

Oats are a favourite here at InstructorLive.  So, mix up your breakfasts, warm up a bowl of oats with your milk of choice (dairy or non-dairy) and top with some fruit and nuts, or prepare some overnight oats

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