The Surprising Nutrition of Oatmeal

The Surprising Nutrition of Oatmeal

There are many different kinds of oatmeal available in food stores these days, and they are all slightly different from each other.  But how processed are each of them? How nutritious is oatmeal? Does oatmeal really lower cholesterol?  Does oatmeal contain gluten?  Read on – you might be as surprised as I was to find out just how nutritious oatmeal really is!

Oatmeal is derived from oat groats, the seed that lies within the husk of the oat grain. The groats are heated and cooled which gives them a slight nutty flavor, then they are milled into the various forms of oatmeal – including coarse, medium or fine.

Here is a basic list of the various forms of oatmeal, and the slight differences in processing:

  • Steel Cut Oats (oatmeal) are small or broken oat groats. This is the least processed oatmeal.
  • Rolled Oats (oatmeal) are from oat groats that have been steamed and flattened. This oatmeal is more processed than steel cut oatmeal.
  • Quick Cooking Oats (oatmeal) have been milled into smaller pieces before being steamed and flattened. This oatmeal is more processed than rolled oats (oatmeal) and steel cut
  • Instant Oats (oatmeal) have been pre-cooked, then dried; very often sweeteners, salt and flavorings are added to them. This oatmeal is the most processed.

How nutritious is oatmeal? Very nutritious!  Oatmeal contains some protein, lots of fiber and a significant array of vitamins and minerals. Some of the nutrients and their functions within the body are:

  • Manganese – needed for connective tissues, bones, blood clotting and energy metabolism
  • Phosphorus – teams up with calcium to form strong bones and teeth, helps the body digest riboflavin and niacin, and is important for the body’s nerve impulses.
  • Copper – important for the body’s production of hormones, maintenance of bone and connective tissues and to help transport oxygen throughout the body
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) – important for growth and development, for the mucous membranes, heart and muscles
  • Magnesium – helps bone growth, nerve impulses, muscle functioning, and is important for the metabolism of protein and carbohydrates
  • Chromium – helps insulin (a hormone) work more efficiently, which is beneficial for diabetics
  • Zinc – is required for synthesis of the body’s DNA, stimulates many of the body’s enzyme reactions, and helps maintain the immune system
  • Selenium – an antioxidant that helps Vitamins C and E, but have a regenerating effect on them

And, yes, according to my research, oatmeal really does lower cholesterol. There is a particular type of fiber called beta-glucan that is found in raw oats, oatmeal and oat bran.  This type of fiber is responsible for these three benefits:

  • It has been shown to be effective in reducing cholesterol, which is very beneficial for the heart.
  • It has been shown to boost the immune system’s response and its efficiency in dealing with bacteria.
  • It has a beneficial effect on blood sugar (helpful for diabetics).

If oatmeal isn’t already on your list of healthy foods to incorporate into your lifestyle, here are a few more benefits or reasons to consider adding it:

  • Oatmeal contains antioxidant compounds which neutralize free radicals – the free radicals would otherwise oxidize LDL cholesterol and cause heart
  • Oatmeal has a high level of the mineral magnesium, which helps the body’s enzyme
  • Consuming whole grains such as oats or oatmeal has been shown to reduce the risk of
  • Oatmeal can help reduce blood pressure.
  • Some sources indicate that oatmeal can help curb weight
  • The fiber in oatmeal is beneficial for your digestive system, helping to prevent
  • Oatmeal can be used topically to benefit your skin – by using it in a hot bath, or as an oatmeal scrub or mask.

Does oatmeal contain gluten?

No, oatmeal does not contain gluten. Most oatmeal is processed in facilities that also process wheat and other foods that contain gluten, so the real issue is cross-contamination.  People who strictly require gluten free oatmeal need to make sure they are getting it from a source that does not also process grains containing gluten.

Oatmeal is definitely a healthy food!  Keep in mind that the less processed forms of oatmeal will be healthier because they are lower glycemic, which means they will not cause the body’s blood sugar level to spike, or cause excess insulin production. If you are looking for a powerhouse food – oatmeal might just be the one!

Are you interested in learning more about foods that are super healthy and will give your body lots of energy?  Contact me, and let’s chat!


Informational Resources:

World’s Healthiest Foods – Oats Mother Nature Network CHealth 

Mayo Clinic – Cholesterol: Top 5 Foods to Lower Your Numbers 



Copyright © 2014 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved