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You Ask, We Answer: Are Quick Oats Healthy?

  By posted Aug 29th 2013
Healthy Living

 

You Ask, We Answer: Are Quick Oats Healthy?

Most of us know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so we need to eat something healthy and nutritious for this meal and oats are a great breakfast choice. But if you still have doubts about the health benefits of oats, nutritionist and freelance writer at Travellers Dietition – Kara Landau, attempts to highlight the benefits of this breakfast cereal. 

 

Kara says, "I doubt if plain oats, with about 3gms of fibre per serving, is really going to keep you full all morning. Yes, they can keep you full for a couple of hours, but if you start at 7am for example, I wouldn’t be surprised if by10am you feel ravenous."

 

Let’s move onto to the traditional rolled oats. Kara adds, "one standard serving of traditional rolled oats will usually provide around 2.6gms-3gms of fibre." She further claims that the consumption of fibre is not very high, to give you a good start. An average person should aim for about  25-30gms of fibre a day.

 

We have also been told that oats are good for lowering cholesterol, due to a certain type of soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which is present in them. To get the best out of oats, we need at least 3gms of beta-glucans a day in order to attain these cholesterol lowering benefits. 

 

Kara reveals, "One serve, or 30gms–40gms, of traditional rolled oats, will usually provide around 1.6gms of beta-glucan. As you can see, you would need to eat almost two servings of oats in order to reach your daily target for beta-glucans (but with that comes double the amount of calories too)."

 

Besides their cholesterol lowering benefits, let’s look into their glycemic index or GI. Kara says, though traditional oats have a less GI, due to our  busy schedules, we prefer using quick oats. 

 

She claims, "although these oats have a similar nutritional profile compared to traditional rolled oats, due to processing, these oats actually have a more moderate to high GI (which, is not good for sustained energy )."

 

So where does this leave our favourite breakfast cereal:

 

Pros:

 

Oats are low in sodium, saturated and trans fats, sugar (if you get the plain variety), and calories (if you have a portion controlled serving).

 

Cons:

 

The quick varieties have a moderate to high GI, and almost all of the varieties are not an excellent source of fibre and are not particularly high in protein.

 

So does that mean, quick oats are bad? No, they are not. 

 

Traditional rolled oats are a far better choice than the new varieties of quick oats. It does not matter if they are “wholegrain” or “multigrain” or contain some sort of “superfood” added ingredient, these quick sachets on their own are often seen more as a healthy snack option or healthy dessert, compared to the wonderous breakfast option they are often touted as.

 

Worried, because your favourite breakfast, does not have any healthy nutrients? Don’t worry, Kara has a plan for you, which can help bump up the fibre, healthy fats, and protein, so that you can actually stay full for a longer duration.

 

  • Protein – Top your oats with Greek style yoghurt, low fat ricotta cheese, or low fat cottage cheese – putting a few tablespoons on, will bump up the protein by about 10-15gms, which will make a significant difference to how full you feel. 
  • Healthy fats – Use an unsweetened almond milk instead of water, it is low GI, provides a good source of Vitamin E, and some mono-unsaturated fats, you also could add in some chia seeds, LSA mix, grounded mixed nuts, or even a teaspoon of a natural nut butter of your preference.
  • Fibre- Some of the examples above also provide fibre such as the chia seeds or the LSA mix, you could also use a psyllium husk fibre supplement, or place some berries on top of your oats.
  • Extra flavours - I love to add 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon (which has  been shown to help regulate your blood sugar levels, leaving you with a more sustained energy release), a drop of vanilla essence, and even some raw cocoa and shredded coconut (just don’t go overboard with this so the calories don’t skyrocket).

 

*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images

 

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