Oats are among the healthiest grains on earth.
They're a gluten-free whole grain and a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
Studies show that oats and oatmeal have many health benefits.
These include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Here are 9 evidence-based health benefits of eating oats and oatmeal.
What Are Oats and Oatmeal?
Oats are a whole-grain food, known scientifically as Avena sativa.
Oat groats, the most intact and whole form of oats, take a long time to cook. For this reason, most people prefer rolled, crushed or steel-cut oats.
Instant (quick) oats are the most highly processed variety. While they take the shortest time to cook, the texture may be mushy.
Oats are commonly eaten for breakfast as oatmeal, which is made by boiling oats in water or milk. Oatmeal is often referred to as porridge.
They're also often included in muffins, granola bars, cookies and other baked goods.
Oats are a whole grain that is commonly eaten for breakfast as oatmeal (porridge).
Oats Are Incredibly Nutritious
The nutrient composition of oats is well-balanced.
They are a good source of carbs and fiber, including the powerful fiber beta-glucan (1, 2, 3).
They also contain more protein and fat than most grains (4).
Oats are loaded with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidant plant compounds. Half a cup (78 grams) of dry oats contains (5):
- Manganese: 191% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 41% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 34% of the RDI
- Copper: 24% of the RDI
- Iron: 20% of the RDI
- Zinc: 20% of the RDI
- Folate: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 39% of the RDI
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 10% of the RDI
- Smaller amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B3 (niacin)
- This is coming with 51 grams of carbs, 13 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 8 grams of fiber, but only 303 calories.
This means that oats are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.
Oats are rich in carbs and fiber, but also higher in protein and fat than most other grains. They are very high in many vitamins and minerals.
Whole Oats Are Rich in Antioxidants, Including Avenanthramides
Whole oats are high in antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols. Most notable is a unique group of antioxidants called avenanthramides, which are almost solely found in oats (6).
Avenanthramides may help lower blood pressure levels by increasing the production of nitric oxide. This gas molecule helps dilate blood vessels and leads to better blood flow (7, 8, 9).
In addition, avenanthramides have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects (9).
Ferulic acid is also found in large amounts in oats. This is another antioxidant (10).
Oats contain many powerful antioxidants, including avenanthramides. These compounds may help reduce blood pressure and provide other benefits.
Oats Contain a Powerful Soluble Fiber Called Beta-Glucan
Oats contain large amounts of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber.
Beta-glucan partially dissolves in water and forms a thick, gel-like solution in the gut.
The health benefits of beta-glucan fiber include:
- Reduced LDL and total cholesterol levels (1)
- Reduced blood sugar and insulin response (11)
- Increased feeling of fullness (12)
- Increased growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract (13)
Oats are high in the soluble fiber beta-glucan, which has numerous benefits. It helps reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels, promotes healthy gut bacteria and increases feelings of fullness.