Written by: Wallace Merriman

Oats have been dubbed a “superfood”
Posted on:Jan 13, 2012

Oats have been dubbed a “superfood” because of their vast nutrition benefits. They are superior to the standard extruded cereals. Oats are high in fiber, low in sodium and sugar, help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels, improve our immune system and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Technically, an oat s the seed of a cereal grain by the same name.

Choosing oat products is not so simple due to the many adjectives prefixed to oat products – Steel cut / rolled / quick ouats … it does tend to get a little confusing when trying to decide which to select. The differences with various oats out there lie in how they have been milled (or processed).

What you need to know :

Here’s a lowdown on the various oat products available to shoppers:

Whole oats (groats or kernels) – the least processed of the oatmeal cereals, and require the longest amount of cooking. It isn’t very common to use these oats for cooking.

Steel cut (Irish or Scottish) oats – These oats are cut, not rolled, with a similar appearance to chopped up rice. They have a chewy, nutty consistency and take a long time to cook (15-60 minutes). They contain more fiber, protein, calcium and other minerals than other varieties of oats but on the downside they have more calories and fat.

Rolled/ “old fashioned” oats – These look like flat little ovals. They take quicker to cook than steel cut oats, but longer than quick oats. Mueslis and granolas are usually made with rolled oats.

Quick oats – similar to rolled oats, but have been cut before being steamed and flattened. They take quicker to cook, and are generally used in breads and muffins. They are nutritionally very similar to rolled oats but  are digested more quickly, and may not keep you as full for a long time.

Instant oats – These are the fastest to cook, because they have been rolled very thinly. While they are more convenient than other oats, you’ll often find them with added flavors and salt. They also lose a lot of their nutrition content because of the high amount of processing they have undergone.

Oat flour – Oats are ground into a flour and can be really useful for anyone intolerant to wheat flour.

Oat bran – made from the outer layer of the oat kernel. Oat bran is very high in fiber and usually eaten as a hot cereal, or sprinkled on a cold cereal. It’s a great way to boost the fiber of baked goods.

Hopefully this has helped you to have more of an understanding of what the different types of oats mean.

While there are differences between the various types of oats, they are all a nutritious and healthy choice. Assuming you buy plain oats without all the added sugars and additives.

Try having oatmeal for breakfast – add cinnamon, honey, chopped fruits and nuts for a filling and nutritious meal.

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