Is Oatmeal Good for You? 3 Health Benefits You Might Be Missing Out On

The time-honored staple is a filling, versatile way to start your day.

Oatmeal is a breakfast mainstay, for good reason—it’s quick and affordable. But is oatmeal good for you? Whether you’re tucking into a bowl in the morning, or eating it as an anytime snack (honestly, so versatile), oatmeal has a lot of laudable characteristics. To get the scoop, we asked nutritionists is oatmeal good for you and how to prepare it in the healthiest ways possible.

Is oatmeal healthy?

Good news: oatmeal is a fiber-rich, protein-packed food.

“Oatmeal is a delicious and nourishing whole grain that can be consumed at any time of day. It has a high micronutrient content and is a solid source of soluble fiber, and protein. It’s a great choice for people who are looking for an easy-to-prepare meal option,” says Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN of Brooklyn-based Maya Feller Nutrition.

Oatmeal benefits

We know that oatmeal is a healthy choice, so let’s dive into what makes it nutritious. Oats are a whole grain and a rich source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

According to Katherine Brooking, MS, RD, co-founder Appetite for Health Nutrition Consulting, for every 1/2 cup of dry rolled oats with water—which amounts to 1 cup of cooked oatmeal—there is 5 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 2.5 grams of fat. The calories are minimal, with only 140 per serving, making oatmeal an ideal breakfast if your goal is weight loss. So, how else is oatmeal good for you?

Oatmeal controls blood sugar and suppresses appetite

Oatmeal is an excellent source of soluble fiber, containing 3 grams per serving. Fiber is supportive of gut health and acts to curb cravings, meaning you’ll stay full for longer.

The primary type of soluble fiber in oats is beta glucan, which forms a viscous gel in the intestines that slows the absorption of glucose. “Beta glucan has been found to help slow digestion, lower LDL cholesterol, control blood sugar, increase satiety, and suppress appetite,” says Brooking. As such, oats are great for people with Type 2 diabetes or insulin sensitivity.

Oatmeal decreases risk of disease

Oats contain a significant amount of bioactive phytonutrients including phenolics, polyphenols, avenanthramides, and tocochromanols. “Increased consumption of phytonutrients has been associated with a decreased risk of developing several chronic and degenerative diseases,” says Feller.

Oatmeal supports metabolism

Oatmeal is also rich in a number of B vitamins, namely B-1, B-2, B-3, B-6, and B-9. These B vitamins support brain health, muscle function, and energy levels. B vitamins are also important for your metabolism as it helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and nucleic acids.

Common oatmeal mistakes

Is your instant oatmeal leaving you bored of breakfast? Or even lacking in nutrition? While oatmeal is packed with nutritional benefits, these could be negated by adding toppings packed with sugar and sodium.

According to Feller, it’s important to strike a balance when it comes to breakfast. “Health exists on a spectrum, so we should avoid viewing foods as inherently ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy.’ There can be health-promoting as well as health-reducing aspects of all foods.” says Feller. For example, honey, one of the most popular oatmeal toppings, is high in sugar and calories but it also contains a high antioxidant count.

Too many sugary toppings

While it’s tempting to spruce up instant oatmeal with sweet toppings, it’s good to be aware of the less nutritious additions to your bowl. “Consistently adding added sugars has the significant potential to promote metabolic dysfunction,” says Feller.

If you wake up with a sweet tooth, and perhaps you’re craving a bit of brightness to your day, keep some fresh, or frozen, fruit on hand. “I recommend adding fresh fruit for natural sweetness and vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You can also add nuts for texture and heart-healthy fats.

f you're short on time, look for a store-bought option (for example, KIND Oatmeal which combines whole grain oats with sliced almonds and dried fruits),” says Brooking. For a smoother finish, you can spoon in some nut butter, like peanut or almond, to add protein, flavor, and smooth texture.

Too much sodium

If you’re a savory fiend, you might be tempted to add salt to your oatmeal. A healthier alternative is to switch to a low-sodium stock, or add turmeric, ginger, or cinnamon, which according to Feller offers anti-inflammatory benefits. For an even tastier meal, consider making overnight oats, giving the flavors plenty of time to infuse.

There are many delicious and healthy ways to enhance your savory oatmeal, making it an energy-providing breakfast or an easy dinner. “Savory oatmeal topped with sauteed mushrooms, fresh herbs, and with or without an egg is an extremely nutrient-dense meal that can be enjoyed at any time of day,” says Feller.

This story originally appeared on: Glamour - Author:Serena Coady

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