Thanks to Starbucks I am eating oatmeal again. Also thanks to my Intro to Nutrition professor who kept saying how wonderful oatmeal was . . . but mostly thanks to Starbucks. I hate to admit this, but I’m not sure how often I would actually eat breakfast if it wasn’t for Starbucks.
I used to eat oatmeal when I was little. My mom would make it with brown sugar, milk and raisins. But between being little and right now, there were lots of years when I wouldn’t touch oatmeal. It is supposed to be really healthy for you, so I started eating it again, and now I really like it. However, is the good-tasting, sugared-up, add-hot-water kind of oatmeal that I am eating with all the mix-ins actually the kind with the health benefits? I wanted to learn more about oatmeal.
Oatmeal, regardless of its form, does have lots of nutritional benefits. Oats are a whole grain. They are a source of fiber (about 4-5 g per serving), which means oatmeal helps with digestive health, blood sugar control, and cholesterol control. The fiber will also tend to keep you feeling full longer. In fact, oats contain a particular kind of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which is especially effective in lowering cholesterol and boosting heart health. Some studies show that beta-glucan may also have positive effects on the immune system, but more research is needed.
Other nutritional positives for oatmeal are that a serving has over half of your daily manganese requirement, and meets 15-18% of your daily zinc, phosphorus and selenium needs. Oatmeal also provides about 20% of the magnesium RDI and 10% of your daily iron.
Something interesting that I have learned is that there are different types of oatmeal, and they have different levels of processing. The amount of processing is inversely related to the length of cooking time. Starting with the least processed and longest cooking, here are the different types of oatmeal.
However, I think I would also like to try a less processed kind of oatmeal. I don’t think I’m ready for the groats. But I can handle trying a bowl of actual steel cut oatmeal. After stirring in a touch of real maple syrup, fresh strawberries or bananas, and walnuts, of course!
Donna Fell is a junior at Metropolitan State University of Denver in the Human Nutrition-Dietetics program, graduating in December of 2015 and working towards becoming an RD. She is a former attorney and mother of two athletic, smart and beautiful girls, ages 12 and 14. She lives in Golden with her daughters and husband, and enjoys running, biking and cooking.