By Charna Sheinfeld, Nutrition Intern
January is National Oatmeal Month! What a great time of year to celebrate this satisfying grain. There is nothing like a hot bowl of creamy oatmeal on a cold wintry morning, especially when you know that you are giving your body loads of vital nutrients.
Oats are a superfood that offer numerous health benefits. Oats contribute to heart health because they have been found to lower blood pressure and to lower LDL levels, the “bad” cholesterol that contributes to heart disease. Because they generally do not have their bran and germ removed before processing like most other grains, oats are a guaranteed whole grain. Therefore, oats contribute to longer feelings of satiety because they are complex carbohydrates, meaning they take longer for the body to digest. We all know that feeling fuller for a longer amount of time contributes to less eating, which in turn impacts weight control.
In addition, the soluble fiber in oats has been found to reduce risk of type 2 diabetes because it helps control levels of blood sugar. Studies have also found that oats are high in a specific type of starch called beta-glucans that stimulate the immune system and inhibits the growth of cancerous tumors. Finally, oats contain avenanthramides, which are unique chemicals that offer countless antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-itching properties.
Oats are generally thought of as a breakfast item that is made into a porridge or used as an ingredient in muffins and cookies. But there are countless other uses for oats both in the kitchen and out! Some culinary uses for oats are as thickeners for soups and stews, binders in meatballs, and as crispy coatings for chicken or fish. Oats are also used in the cosmetic industry as a natural anti itching agent and as an exfoliate.
Oats come in various forms that are due to the way they are processed. In the United States, most oats are steamed and flattened to produce rolled oats, otherwise known as “old fashioned.” Oats that are steamed and flattened for longer will become either “quick cooking” or “instant” oatmeal. The longer they are flattened and steamed, the quicker they will cook. Another form of oats are “steel-cut” oats which consist of the entire oat kernel that is sliced into smaller pieces to help water cook the grain. Steel cut oats need the longest time to cook, about 20-30 minutes. They provide a chewy nutty texture that many prefer. Whichever type of oats you enjoy be sure to include them in your menus so as to provide your body with plenty of fiber and heart healthy nutrients!
Here are two newly created recipes for you to try this month. Please come back and let us know how you like them.