The Ups and Downs of Oatmeal

We have all heard that oatmeal is a heart-healthy way to start your day. But is it? Often we hear these things as fact and never look at the science. Today we are taking a closer look at oatmeal and its benefits and drawbacks.

January is National Oatmeal Month. ( That’s because January is the start of the year, a time to start off right and oatmeal can be a way to start the day off right. It can help lower cholesterol and was the first food recognized as being heart healthy with a label by the FDA. That’s because it’s very high in fiber. As a base, the oats are amazing!

Additionally, antioxidants in oatmeal can work with vitamin C to prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation. That can help prevent heart disease. An antioxidant in the oats also helps the body to excrete cholesterol-rich bile, causing it to leave your body sooner. The oats are helping your heart on a lot of fronts!

Oatmeal, being high in fiber and nutrients, can help you lose weight. A bowl of oatmeal can help you feel full and leave more satiated than a low-fiber breakfast. That may help you eat less throughout the day!  

But, oatmeal can have problems. The oats are great for cholesterol levels. The butter, whole milk, cream and other high fat, high-calorie things you add can undercut the health benefits of the dish. And, once you start adding sugar-heavy ingredients, you might be eating dessert instead of a healthy meal. Quick-cooking oat oatmeal can go either way — nutritious or unhealthy — depending on if it’s been flavored and what has been added to it. Even if it is unflavored, while it aids heart health, the flakes’ thinness makes them breakdown in your digestive tract more quickly and can cause blood sugar spikes. You have to keep these things in mind when you are cooking, but oatmeal is excellent if you watch for these pitfalls.  

A nice thing about oatmeal is that you can have it for any meal. And the internet has a million different recipes to try. There are even delicious savory recipes that most of us wouldn’t think to make! Although we’ll be honest, we often don’t do anything fancy. We just cook rolled oats with skim milk and a tiny pinch of salt, topped with a little maple syrup and some cut-up fruit. It’s delicious, easy and a filling way to start the day. The fruit adds even more fiber to the morning!

There you have it; the saying is accurate and not just marketing: oatmeal really is good for you. Just avoid the preflavored stuff: those are frequently filled with sugar and other added things you wouldn’t have put there yourself. While homemade oatmeal might be time-consuming, it’s not the least bit hard to make yourself! And you don’t have to make it decadent with heavy cream and butter to have a delicious breakfast!

Banner image: Keegan Evans via Pexels
January 15, 2021

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