health benefits of oats

The Health Benefits of Oats



Oats are fairly well known as a healthy food. Many of us already enjoy them in the form of our breakfast porridge, and we all like to think that an oaty biscuit is that little bit better for us. In fact, you could be right. But what is it exactly that makes oats such a well-known health food? What are the health benefits of oats?

The Healthiest Grains

Oats are without a doubt one of the healthiest grains you can eat. They are an excellent source of fibre, antioxidants, and a good source of vitamins and minerals. They are a well balanced food source overall, but as with all foods, the more natural and less processed forms contain the most nutrients and tend to be better for us. Instant porridge which can be cooked in a microwave, for instance, while not an unhealthy choice, will be less nutritious than pure rolled oats.

The vitamins and minerals contained in one portion of dry oats can account for a good proportion of your recommended daily intake. Half a cup of oats contains:

  • 20% of your recommended daily intake of iron
  • 39% of your vitamin B1, and
  • 20% of your recommended intake of zinc.

In addition, oats are an excellent source of carbohydrates, and actually contain 13 grams of protein in one half-cup serving.

The Health Benefits of Oats – It’s all in about the Antioxidants!

Antioxidants and polyphenols, of which whole oats are one of the best sources, are also highly beneficial to your diet. You may usually think of antioxidant-rich foods as being things like fruit or vegetables, but oats are equally as good. Particularly important is one type of antioxidant found only in oats called avenanthromides, which are thought to help reduce blood pressure and improve the flow of blood around the body.

Polyphenols are also thought to help reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes by fighting the damage caused by free radicals in the body. Other sources of polyphenols include: cloves; dark chocolate; berries; plums; apples; beans; nuts; red onions; and spinach.

Fibre and Weight Loss

Increasing your fibre intake is another good reason to consider adding more oats to your diet. Since fibre cannot be digested, it helps to push along food and waste products through the gut. The inability to digest fibre also means that you are left feeling fuller for longer, and so you are less likely to feel the need to overeat.

The most beneficial form of fibre contained in oats is known as Beta-Glucan. It is known to reduce LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels in the blood, reduce blood sugar levels, and increase the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

Oatier Options

Perhaps one of the best things about oats is their versatility. Oats can be added to all sorts of recipes to create healthier-choice biscuits, pastries, breads, muffins and breakfasts.

As they are naturally gluten-free and low in fat, oats are one food which is open to everyone. There are plenty of ways to introduce healthy and tasty oat-filled recipes and snacks into your diet. Although most people choose oats as part of a healthy breakfast, they can be added as a snack in the form of granola, cereal bars or flapjack or they can be added to smoothies or yoghurts.

To put it simply, eating more wholegrain oats can help you in the fight against all sorts of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and obesity. Oats could help you lose weight, manage your blood sugar levels, and because they are a good source of slow-release carbohydrates, they can help to boost your energy levels. High levels of fibre also mean that they promote a healthy gut, all accompanied by a full spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals.

For more information on healthy eating options, please visit the NHS Choices website.