Recently I’ve found myself doing a lot of research around one very specific topic – OATS!
Oats are very easy to talk about from a ‘healthy eating’ perspective, and not many people can find a bad word to say about them. So I thought I would write a blog, outlining about all the benefits of those tiny little grains.
Firstly, oats have FOUR health claims authorized by the EU! These are:
- Oat beta-glucan has been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease
- Oat grain fibre contributes to an increase in faecal bulk
- Consumption of beta-glucans from oats or barley as part of a meal contributes to the reduction of the blood glucose rise after that meal
- Beta-glucans (including those from oats) contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels
So what do these mean in practice?
- Oats are also natural wholegrains – meaning that they contain all three parts of the oat grain – the endosperm, the bran and the germ – complete with all the grain’s nutrients.
- This also means they are high in fibre. For a food to claim that it is ‘high’ in fibre, the EU states that it must have at least 6g of fibre per 100g of a product. Oats have 11g/100g – making them a fantastic, high fibre food too.
- Of particular interest is a specific fibre found in oats – beta glucan, which is the basis for many of the health claims for oats and seems to have a beneficial impact on lowering blood cholesterol levels.
- Oats also contain vitamins, minerals and ‘phytochemicals’ which are elements of plants such as flavonoids and antioxidants that are thought to be beneficial for our health.
- The B vitamins in oats help us to release energy from our foods and as oats also contain minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium, they are a great way to encourage a vitamin and mineral boost too.
- Oats are fairly cheap to buy and, as they are low GI, and contain high fibre and some protein, they are also great for satiation and keeping us ‘fuller for longer’.
- Oats are perfect to have for breakfast and, even if you don’t like porridge, a handful of oats with your current breakfast cereal could help you up your fibre and vitamins and minerals too.
- They are also great with puddings, deserts or even sprinkled on salads.
Wholegrains have also been associated with a number of benefits to our health including potentially reducing our weight, reducing our risk of diabetes, lowering blood cholesterol and improving our digestive health.
So, to sum up, oats are a great wholegrain food. They are also a fantastic breakfast idea giving plenty of energy, fibre and nutrients to start the day. If you don’t like porridge you could try adding a handful of oats to your current breakfast cereal or including them in smoothies, salads or puddings at other times in the day.