There are so many exciting and exotic superfoods currently on the market that sometimes we may neglect the more humble everyday items we already have in our kitchen cupboards. Could any of all these commonplace food items be more humble than oatmeal? What are the benefits of oatmeal?
For centuries, oats have been a staple cereal grain, especially in cooler, wetter environments where they are well suited to grow because of their low dependency on sunlight.
Oats are packed with nutrients, and regularly incorporating it into your diet can offer many benefits.
WHY OATS ARE BENEFICIAL
Compared to other grains, oats are richer in protein and fat. They are a good source of soluble fibers, which are primarily beta-glucans. Studies show that beta-glucans help lower blood cholesterol level and decrease appetite and food intake, thus they are beneficial to the treatment of diabetes.
Oats also contain insoluble fibers which help trigger bowel movement and prevent constipation. They are a significant source of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants such as manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, folate and vitamins B1 and B5. Each 40 grams serving of oatmeal contains about 23 grams of carbohydrates, making it a perfect pre- or post-workout food.
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WAYS TO EAT MORE OATMEAL
A breakfast cereal is by far the most popular way to enjoy oatmeal. There are infinite variations on this seemingly simple dish which can be accomplished by adding milk (or plant milk), water or fruit juice, along with sugar, salt or a variety of different spices to flavor it.
You can eat oatmeal cooked as porridge, soaked as overnight oats, or raw as muesli. To make your bowl of oatmeal more nutritious and exciting to eat, incorporate your favorite ingredients or add any fresh or dried fruits such as berries, apples and bananas, and nuts and seeds.
Oats are very versatile, partly because of having a mild flavor. Many people use oat flour in place of wheat flour in some recipes. Oat flour is a good alternative particularly for those who are gluten intolerant or on a gluten-free diet.
Increase the nutritional benefits of a variety of snacks and dishes by using oat flour instead of the usual white flour. Try some recipes for oatmeal pancakes, granola bars, fruit crumbles and vegetable stews and risottos. Oat flour is available in many supermarkets, but you can also make your own if you have a powerful food processor. Just grind the oatmeal until it becomes fine.
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OTHER USES OF OATMEAL
Because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, oatmeal makes a great cleanser for the skin. Soak oatmeal for a few minutes and gently rub it onto the face or body. It acts as a natural exfoliant and its high fat content helps form a protective barrier on the skin to lock in moisture. It contains no harsh chemicals, so it can be specifically beneficial to those with sensitive or damaged skin.
You can also add a cup of whole oats to your bath water with a few drops of lavender oil for an exfoliating and moisturising soak.
If you have small children, you can have fun together making your own playdough. Simply mix a cup of oat flour with a cup of regular white flour, half a cup of water, and a splash of food coloring.
Oats are not just nutritious for us, but for dogs too. Combine oatmeal with peanut butter, banana and coconut oil to make healthy homemade treats that your “best friend” will love.
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WHO SHOULD AVOID OATS
Oats are naturally gluten-free, but they are not recommended for people with extreme wheat allergies or sensitivities. Oats are often grown in rotation with wheat crops so cross contamination can occur. Although it’s quite uncommon, some people are allergic to avenin, which is a protein found in oats.