Healthy Oatmeal – A Nutritious Functional Food

Oatmeal is a traditional, economical breakfast. Now, flax seed and fruit replace brown sugar and butter to create a balanced morning meal.

Oatmeal is a hot breakfast cereal made from oats that is also known as porridge. Feeling nostalgic? Many people grew up eating oatmeal for breakfast, with spoonfuls of brown sugar and a hefty pat of butter on top. Oatmeal has been around for centuries.

Most supermarkets carry whole oats in groat, rolled, flaked, steel-cut and instant forms, and oat bran.

Oatmeal Nutrition

Whole oats are a high-protein and low-fat grain, containing 66% carbohydrates, 17% protein, and only 17% fat. Oats are low in sugar and salt, and provide vitamins, minerals, and the ever-elusive dietary fibre. Best of all, oatmeal’s goodness is natural, not added back after processing. The ingredients on the oatmeal package should read nothing more than “rolled oats” or something just as simple.

Try balanced oatmeal recipes that contain all four food groups, or mix and match favourite toppings.

fresh or frozen fruit
low-fat milk
non-dairy milk (soy, rice or almond milk)
chopped nuts
peanut butter
low-sugar jam

Most oat products are minimally processed (milled, cut and rolled and/or steamed) to make cooking times shorter. Some nutrition is lost during processing (McGee, 2004). Whole oats have their hulls (outsides) removed to reveal oat groats, which cook more slowly than steel-cut and rolled oats.

Oatmeal Nutrition Facts

A 1/3 cup serving of rolled, quick, or instant oats prepared with water provides approximately:

102 Calories
Protein 3.5 grams
Carbohydrates 18.3 grams
Fibre 2.7 grams
Iron 1.2 mg or 6.7% daily value
Zinc 1.0 mg
B vitamins (124 mcg thiamin, 42 mcg riboflavin, 304 mcg niacin, 302 mcg panthothenic acid, 27 mcg B6)

Oatmeal Glycemic Index

Steel-cut (also called Irish or Scottish oats), rolled, large flake, and instant oatmeal are nutritionally similar. They all have a relatively high glycemic index (GI). The GI remains high whether the oats are cooked or eaten raw as in muesli. Large or thickly-cut oats might have a slightly lower GI (Granfeldt et al. 1995; Granfeldt et al. 2000). To decrease the GI of oatmeal, use thick-cut oats and add healthy fat and protein. Try milk, nuts, or peanut butter.
Oatmeal as a Functional Food

A functional food is a food with health-promoting properties that go beyond providing energy (calories) and nutrients. Eating oatmeal has been proven to be a natural way to lower cholesterol.
Oats and Gluten Intolerance

Pure, uncontaminated oats are safe for most individuals with celiac disease, when taken in limited quantities (Rashid et al. 2007). For adults, up to ½ to ¾ cup per day is considered acceptable.

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