While other health food fads come and go, oatmeal has been touted as a good way to start your day for generations. Incorporating oatmeal and other whole grains into your diet can improve your cardiovascular health and help manage your weight. Oats are also high in fiber and contain many nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. In addition to eating rolled oats as a breakfast porridge, oatmeal can also be baked into cookies, bread and muffins or used in savory dishes like meatballs or burgers.
Types of Oatmeal
Oatmeal is made from the seeds of oat plants, botanically named Avena sativa. Rolled oats, also called old-fashioned oats, have been steamed and pressed flat. Rolled oats very in thickness -- from thick oats, which take long to cook, to very thinly-rolled instant oats, which cook very quickly Steel cut-oats, also called Irish or Scottish oatmeal, are whole oats that have been cut or broken into smaller pieces and once cooked, they have a texture reminiscent of brown rice. Some natural food stores may stock whole oat groats, which can also be cooked into porridge. According to the Whole Grains Council, oats tend to be minimally processed, and most types of oatmeal and other oat products contain the whole grain.
You should eat oatmeal for the beneficial effects it has on your cardiovascular health, recommends David L. Katz, M.D., director of the Yale Prevention Research Center and the Yale School of Medicine. Oats have been shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein, or LDL -- your "bad" cholesterol -- without affecting high-density lipoprotein, or LDL -- your "good" cholesterol -- and also to lower blood pressure. Improving and maintaining your cardiovascular health will reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to soluble fiber, oats also contain other important nutrients. Oats are a good source for vitamins B-1, B-2 and E, says nutritionist Leslie Beck, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Vitamin B-1 helps maintain your nervous system and B-2 promotes good vision, and both B vitamins are important for good metabolism. Vitamin E aids in the health of your red blood cells and also helps your body process other vitamins.
Oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan. In addition to keeping you regular, this fiber also stabilizes blood sugar levels, which may reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes. Beta-glucan also stimulates your immune system and may help fight cancer. Foods that are high in fiber, like oatmeal, also help you feel fuller longer, and starting the day off with a bowl of oatmeal may carry you through to lunch without resorting to mid-morning snacking.
- "A Scientific Review of the Health Benefits of Oats"; David L. Katz, M.D., MPH; September 2001rel="nofollow"
- Whole Grains Council: Oatsrel="nofollow"
- Healthy Cooking; Oats; Leslie Beck, RD; January 2007rel="nofollow"
- NutriStrategy: Nutrition Information for Nutrients, Vitamins and Mineralsrel="nofollow"
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.