Oats are more than a breakfast food

Often we think of oats as simply breakfast food or a substance found in snacks, but they are actually an amazing grain that can have an enormous impact on your health.

On a per-gram basis, oats contain a higher concentration of protein, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, thiamin, phosphorus and vitamin E than any other unfortified whole grain. Oats are the only grain proven to reduce cholesterol.

Oatmeal can also help regulate blood sugar. Not only is it nutritious and delicious, but the soluble fiber may help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Oats’ total dietary fiber consists of 55 percent soluble fiber and 45 percent insoluble fiber. Both types are important to good health.

By eating 1-1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal each day while following a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, you may be able to lower your blood cholesterol levels. This can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes and may lower your blood pressure as well.

If you find the thought of eating that much oatmeal to be a daunting proposition, don’t worry. Oats are a versatile ingredient that can be added to a variety of foods. You can make whole-oat flour by grinding oats in a blender for a few seconds and substituting it for one-third of the wheat flour called for in recipes.

It is a proven fact that oats have a positive effect on your health when they are part of an overall healthy lifestyle. The next time you are in the supermarket, make sure that oats are on your shopping list. Your body will thank you for it.

Ways to add more oats to your diet

  • Use oats in meatballs and meatloaf recipes.
  • Use ground oats as a breading for fish or chicken.
  • Make oatmeal pancakes and top with fresh fruit.
  • Make your own oat-based granola.
  • Top yogurt with toasted oats and fresh fruit.
  • Replace nuts in cookie mixes with toasted oats.
  • Use oats as the topping for your fresh fruit crisp.
  • Use oats as a thickener in soups and stews.

 

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 1, February/March 2007.

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