Oh, Oh, Oatmeal
Anyone who knows me at all knows that I eat an absurd amount of oatmeal. I am an addict. So, I figured that this topic would be an appropriate first post.
What I love most about oatmeal (plain, steel-cut) is that it is a whole food. It gives you that morning-time feel of cereal without eating the processed stuff that comes in a box accompanied by a very long list of ingredients (most of which only scientists can pronounce correctly).
There are tons of health benefits to gain from eating oats.
- Lowers Cholesterol: The soluble fiber in oatmeal can help lower elevated LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff!). High cholesterol is a major risk factor associated with cardiovascular disease. Just ONE bowl of oatmeal a day can lower cholesterol by up to 23% and reduce CVD risk by half! Not only does the fiber found in oatmeal lower LDL levels, but it also contains antioxidants called avenanthramides that protect HDL cholesterol (the good stuff!) from free radical harm. This also reduces CVD risk.
- Satisfy hunger longer: Fiber-rich oats keep you full and satisfied long after eating . It slowly breaks down in the body and provides long lasting energy.
- Stabilize Blood Sugar: Whole, unprocessed oats contain no refined sugars or carbs. Because of this you don’t get that late-morning “crash” like you do when you eat a big bowl of processed cereal to start your day. The fiber helps to stabilize the body’s blood sugar so you don’t experience these crashes.
- Prevents Breast Cancer: Whole grain, fiber rich diets have been show to protect against breast cancer. Women who ate fiber from whole grain sources had a 41% less risk of developing breast cancer according to a UK Women’s Cohort Study. Those who got their fiber from fruit sources only had a lower reduction rate of only 29%.
So, as you can see there are obvious reasons to consume this power-food.
Now the question is how to eat it.
My favorite way to eat oats is to mix ½ cup of plain, dry steel-cut oats with about 2/3 -1 cup of water. You mix it up and heat it in the microwave for about a minute and a half or so. Always keep an eye on your oats when heating them in the microwave! If you leave them in too long they WILL explode! Let me tell you, from personal experience, an oatmeal covered microwave is not fun to clean. After heating is when the fun part beings: Picking your add-ins! You can pretty much add anything that floats your boat. Some of my favorites are honey, maple syrup, fresh berries, and pureed pumpkin. NOTE: While oatmeal is a very healthy food, beware of negating all of the health benefits when adding your mix-ins. For instance, do not add a cup of maple syrup or a mountain of brown sugar. It is good to also try to keep add-ins to things that also have benefits, such as the antioxidants in berried for example.
You can also up the protein content of oatmeal, which makes it a great post-workout snack. This can be done by adding an egg white to the water and oatmeal before microwaving. You can also add a scoop of protein powder (Be sure you are using an appropriate powder. I cannot tell you how many horrid products are on the market, but that is a whole other topic for another day.)
I have also been seeing oatmeal in smoothies all over pinterest lately (isn’t pinterest great?) I decided to test it out because I was skeptical of it. Skeptic no more! It made for a really filling smoothie (usually I suck down smoothies without hardly tasting them, let alone satisfy my hunger) and to my surprise there were no large chunks of oats. You can simply just add oats (you can experiment with the amount, I ended up adding about a third cup) to your favorite smoothie recipe. I would suggest scaling down the other ingredients to accommodate for the extra one you are adding (however, keep the liquid the same or add slightly more since the oats are in their dry state when added).
Now I hope you all understand why I swear by eating oatmeal to contribute to optimal health!
- Devon, Ryan. “Health Benefits of Oatmeal.” Livestrong. N.p., 2011. Web. 5 May 2013. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/533469-health-benefits-of-oatmeal/>.
- Melgren, Susan. “7 Health Benefits of Oatmeal.” Mother Earth Living. N.p., 2011. Web. 5 May 2013. <http://www.motherearthliving.com/natural-health/7-health-benefits-of-oatmeal.aspx>.
- Ross, Alli. ” Oatmeal – The Most Powerful Breakfast for Weight Loss.” Food Editorials. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2013. <http://www.streetdirectory.com/food_editorials/meals/breakfast_meals/oatmeal_the_most_powerful_breakfast_for_weight_loss.html>.