OATS are an inexpensive but often overlooked nutrition powerhouse. They lower cholesterol and are kid-friendly. Even children who dislike whole grains—such as whole-wheat bread and brown rice—tend to enjoy oatmeal. For a whole grain, oats have a remarkably mild flavour. You can easily alter favourite pancake and muffin recipes to include oats. Just substitute quick-cooking oats for half of the flour, and you instantly amp up the fiber.
OATS HELP THE HEART Oats and barley contain a special form of soluble fiber called beta–glucan..Beta–glucan seems especially powerful at reducing LDL cholesterol, the bad type of cholesterol, while leaving good HDL cholesterol untouched. In fact, eating 3 grams of oat beta–glucan daily reduced LDL by 10 points, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. To get that 3 grams of beta–glucan, you’d have to eat about 1.75 cups of cooked oatmeal. A Thai study followed volunteers who ate that much oatmeal for a month and found their LDL levels fell 10 percent, which is great news. That study was published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand. A previous report in the British Journal of Nutrition found that oats reduced LDL cholesterol by 4 to 23 percent.
GLUTEN-FREE GRAIN Many people with celiac disease can tolerate certain types of oatmeal. Although oats are naturally gluten-free, many are milled in the same facilities as wheat and thus get contaminated with gluten, which causes celiac disease to flare. However, when oats are raised far away from wheat and milled in a dedicated facility, many specialists say oats are safe for people with celiac disease.
TYPES OF OATS Many supermarkets now carry dozens of types of oatmeal. To get the most bang for your buck, skip the flavored oatmeal packets. Instead, consider buying the large containers of oats and adding your own cinnamon, raisins and the like. Ounce for ounce, quick-cooking oats, old-fashioned rolled oats and steel-cut oats are nutritionally equivalent. After harvest, the inedible hulls are removed to reveal the nutritious “groats,” which are toasted or steamed. They can be chopped coarsely to create steel-cut oats, or chopped and then pressed flat with rollers to create rolled oats. Quick-cooking oats are chopped more finely before rolling, creating lightweight flakes that cook rapidly. Airy, flaky quick oats appear to take up more space. One-half cup of quick oats weighs as much as one-quarter cup of steel-cut oats. You can cook either type of oats by adding them to a pot of 1 to 1 cups of boiling water. Quick oats will be soft in just 2 to 3 minutes, while steel-cut oats cook in about 10 minutes. Serve with milk and dried fruit and nuts. Cranberries or raisins or dried apricots are easy and sweet; toss in a handful of sliced almonds or chopped walnuts to add some crunch. One-half cup of uncooked quick oats and one-quarter cup of steel-cut oats each contain a mere 150 calories, no sodium or cholesterol, 27 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein
OATMEAL SATISFIES Eating oatmeal for breakfast may be more filling than eating cold cereal, even a cold cereal that contains some oats. One interesting study found that when volunteers ate Quaker Old-Fashioned Oatmeal versus the best-selling cold cereal, Honey Nut Cheerios, the oatmeal eaters reported feeling satisfied longer.
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY OATS Colloidal oatmeal, a finely ground preparation used in baths and lotions, has long been used by dermatologists to ease itchy skin caused by eczema and psoriasis. Oatmeal is effective because it contains avenanthramides, according to the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. Some researchers are using avenanthramides to ease muscle inflammation after exercise. Oats help the heart and the skin, and oats are a deliciously mild comfort food.
While the above article guides you to eating healthier, there is no substitute for customized professional advice given by a qualified nutritionist. We urge you to speak to your personal dietician or if you need help, contact a nutritionist at Qua Nutrition.
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