Oats are one of the most nutrient-rich and health beneficial cereals. Avena sativa, commonly known as oats, forms panicles with its grains, with different branches. This cereal is a very characteristic element in any sportsmen's diet, not only due to its high content in complex carbohydrates and proteins, but also thanks to its nutritional advantages. It has a high fiber content, rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
For thousands of years oats have been integrated in the human diet, due mainly to its excellent taste which is superior to other grains. Despite this fact its intensive cultivation has been relatively recent.
While wheat and barley have been cultivated for 10,000 years, oats did not begin to be grown until approximately 3000 years ago, when man began to see the extraordinary qualities of this cereal: its richness in nutrients (greater than other cereals), its easy cultivation (even in the poorest soils) and how its properties can be of benefit to health.
Properties of oats
As food oats are an extraordinary source of nutrients, which provide the body with excellent protein building materials.
Unlike other grains (such as rice) it is enough to consume a small amount of oats to get the full of advantage all the vital substances that they contain.
Among the main ingredients and vital nutrients of oats, are the following:
Oats contain biotin and zinc
Biotin promotes the beauty of hair and nails and helps keep the nervous system in good condition. Its enough take just 40 grammes of oatmeal to provide 7.8 microgrammes of biotin, equivalent to a quarter of the recommended daily dose. But what do biotin and zinc do in the body?
Biotin is one of the best-known remedies for keeping the hair, skin and nails strong and healthy. It is especially recommended for the treatment of hair loss, which benefits can be enhanced even more when combined with zinc.
Given the fact that oats are a good source of zinc, since every 100 grammes of oats contain about 4,300 microgrammes of zinc (equivalent to the zinc content in a steak), they are perfect for keeping hair healthy, strong and bright.
Biotin also aids in the optimum functioning of the nervous system and clinical studies have also shown that depression is associated with low levels of biotin.
Oats and vitamin B1
Approximately 40 grammes of oats contain around 0.3 milligrammes of vitamin B1.
This amount covers a quarter of the daily requirements of this vitamin. There is no other cereal that has as high a proportion of vitamin B1 as oats. Even among the pseudocereals, only amaranth has as high a B1 content as oats do.
Vitamin B1, along with vitamin B6, provide peace of mind and control of the nerves.
When the body has a vitamin B1 deficiency it causes dizziness, insomnia, fatigue and neurological disorders. In addition, when ingesting carbohydrates, vitamin B1 is also required so that the body can process them correctly. Carbohydrates are often known as "vitamin B1 thieves", since they use it but do not provide it.
Oats and vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps keep the nerves and mind balanced.
Oats have twice the vitamin B6 as other cereals (1 milligramme per 100 grammes of oats).
Among the outstanding properties of B6 is that it helps guarantee a strong nervous system. In addition, it promotes the health of blood cells (since it is involved in the synthesis of haemoglobin) and promotes the production of serotonin. One of the most popular remedies for relieving insomnia, mood and psychological discomfort is to provide a large amount of vitamin B6 to the body.
Vitamin B6 deficiency is currently very common among many young people and even adults, due to an unbalanced diet. Vitamin B6 deficiency can cause different symptoms, such as chronic diarrhoea. Some drugs, mainly antibiotics and the pill may additionally cause a deficiency of vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms include: frequent nightmares, increased susceptibility to infections or skin lesions and high levels of homocysteine, which is one of the most serious risk factors for cardiovascular problems.
Oats and iron
40 grammes of oats contain 2.4 milligrammes of iron. Oats also have higher values of iron than other cereals.
Only millet and the pseudo-cereales amaranth and quinoa may have similar levels of iron to oatmeal.
Not even meat can beat oats as a natural source of iron, as oats have double the iron content as meat.
Even if we combine oats with a source of vitamin C (in muesli for example), the iron content of oats reaches similar levels to what we can find in meat.
Because of these factors it is one of the main remedies for treating anaemia problems, along with millet.
Oats have an exceptional magnesium content
The properties of oats include its magnesium content: 40 grammes of oats contain 60 milligrammesofmagnesium.
Just consume 40 g of oats, a banana, half an apple, 2 seeded and chopped dates and 20 grammes of sunflower seeds to provide half the amount of magnesium (300-400 mg) you need each day.
Even if you don't like the taste of oats, you can serve it mixed with abundant vegetables or fruits rich in vitamin C in order to obtain the maximum health benefits.
Oatmeal is an excellent provider of silicon
Oats include almost the same amount of silicon as millet (considered the king of silicon). Silicon is an exceptional material that helps maintain the health of connective tissues, prevents the development of cellulite and helps keep skin firm and elastic.
Silicon is popularly known for its properties in keeping the hair and nails in good condition.
However, most people ignore the fact that silicon is one of the best health remedies for bones and cartilage. For this reason, including an extra amount of silicon is recommended for those suffering from osteoarthritis, arthritis, or any other bone problems. In addition, the body uses silicon to recover its natural supply of organic aluminium, which protects the brain and improves its performance.
Oats have the best combination of fibres
In 40 grammes of oats there are approximately 4 grammes of fibre, beautifully balanced between soluble and insoluble. In other grains like wheat, rye, barley and corn, there is a greater proportion of insoluble fibre while the soluble fibre content is somewhat scarce.The difference between soluble and insoluble fibre has to do with their various health benefits. But what exactly is the difference?
Insoluble fibre is used for fighting constipation, while soluble fibre lowers cholesterol and fat levels in the blood, thereby helping to lower the risk of heart attacks, atherosclerosis, or gallstones.
Oats can reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar levels in just three days, so this makes it one of the best remedies for treating diabetes.
The soluble fibre in oats, along with their high magnesium content, helps regulate blood sugar levels. The result is so amazing that for diabetics or people with insulin resistance, oats are a true cure.
The effects of oats are so extraordinary that taking a large amount for three days significantly improves insulin resistance and blood sugar levels.
Despite this, it is always more beneficial to include them between the regular foods we eat every day, in small quantities and as part of a healthy diet.
The latest clinical studies conducted on 40 000 partcipants have demonstrated that dietary supplements containing magnesium naturally reduce the risk of suffering diabetes by up to 19 percent.
But in the case of oatmeal the results are extraordinary because it was shown that those participants in the study who consumed oats regularly, reduced their risk of diabetes by a third. The way oats are produced explains why they contain saponins, some phytochemicals that reduce hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar levels) and increase the secretion of insulin.
Importance of oats for athletes
Oats and beta-glucans
Most of the soluble fibre in oats comes from its beta-glucans, which have enormous health benefits. Beta-glucans act in combination with white blood cells called neutrophils and among other things, have anti-inflammatory effects whereby they are able to isolate inflammation in the body.
Beta-glucans also have benefits for people who have high cholesterol, so the consumption of oat bran is often recommended in these cases. Oat bran is formed from the outer layers of oats without endosperm. It has a higher fibre content and double the beta-glucan of oatmeal.
40 grammes of oat bran contains 3 grammes of beta-glucan. People suffering from high cholesterol may reduce it from between 8 and 23 percent by taking 3 grammes of oat bran daily for three weeks. (You should also drink plenty of water when consuming oats).
In addition, if we take into account that cholesterol increases the chances of cardiovascular disease, by consuming oatmeal every day we can also reduce the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
How does beta-glucan from oats reduce cholesterol?
The process by which beta-glucan increases the amount of bile in the intestine is very simple. In bile one finds a lot of fat and toxic substances which, thanks to the activity of beta-glucans can be excreted through faeces, instead of returning to the blood stream.
Natural oats help lower "bad" cholesterol or LDL, so that the "good" cholesterol remains intact. It also has antioxidant propertis, derived from their specific antioxidant, which is known as avenanthramide.
Oats contain an antioxidant with exceptional benefits
The benefits of this cereal as a source of antioxidants have been underestimated for a long time, since researchers have been applying incorrect methods to determine antioxidant levels in cereals.
Scientists from Cornell University (USA) have found that antioxidants contained in fruits and vegetables are free, while with cereals they are united in 99% of cases. Whether antioxidants are free or united, however, they have identical effects.
It has now been discovered that the scientists’ error was that they wanted to test the effects of the united antioxidants using the methods meant for free antioxidants. As a result, for a long time it was mistakenly believed that cereals lacked antioxidants.
When processing white flour grain, much of the antioxidant potential is lost, since 83 percent of the antioxidants that the outer layers of the grain possess are removed to extract the flour itself. However, this does not happen with whole-grain products, which provide excellent antioxidants for the body, while multiplying the effects of intestinal bacteria, making them some of the most effective remedies for intestinal flora health.
The antioxidants contained in oats belongs to the polyphenol group and is known as avenanthramide.
The properties of avenanthramide are extraordinary, since they prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol which turns into DAS when it oxidises, the root cause of all kinds of health problems, such as the dreaded build-up on the walls of the blood vessels.
Avenanthramide antioxidant protection is increased even more when taken together with vitamin C. For this reason it is advisable to consume oatmeal along with citrus fruits, at breakfast for example, which increases the concentration of vitamin C even more.
Oats, preferably whole
All the vital substances mentioned above refer only to whole oats. Oatmeal is usually made from whole seeds, both in the case of polynuclear flour, fine flour or flour for babies.
However, if you buy certain types of products, such as oatmeal biscuits for example, they may not be made purely from oat flour and often contain other types of grain or sugar. That's why it is very important to check the ingredients on the packaging of products. Unlike whole grains, products made with white flour contain fat and create food cravings.
Whole grain oats provide other health benefits in addition to those listed.
In particular, recent clinical studies conducted on 20,000 participants have shown that men who eat whole-grain oats for breakfast every day can reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack by a third.
In the case of women, a clinical study conducted on 35,000 participants has shown that women eating 13 grammes of whole-grain oats per day may reduce the risk of breast cancer by 40 percent. These are some of the reasons to choose oats as the cereal with the best health-giving properties. Oats also contain a very small quantity of gluten.
Oats contain very little gluten
Oats are not free from gluten, but have so little that they cannot be used to bake bread. Gluten is the ingredient in bread that forms the dough and causes it to ferment and rise. In the case of oats, the amount of gluten is so scarce that if other additives are not used only flat bread can be made.
However, oatmeal can be mixed with other ingredients by up to 30 percent to make bread. Although oats do contain a small amount of gluten, it is in a different form and can be tolerated much more easily than that which is found in wheat, rye and spelt.
Therefore, even those with coeliac disease can consume limited quantities of oats, as long as they do not exceed 50g daily, that they take care only to use whole-grain oats (free from gluten) and do not mix it with wheat, barley or spelt.
When a field of oats is situated next to a wheat field there is a risk that some of the wheat grains could be mixed with the oats and end up in commercial oat products. These small amounts of wheat can be a problem for people with coeliac disease, so they should pay close attention to the product label and choose only those that state they are "gluten-free".
This ensures that they contain less than 20 ppm * gluten (* 20 ppm = 2 mg of gluten per 100 g of food) and that they are therefore in the recommended range for people with coeliac disease.
A clinical study on 116 coeliac children showed that they could tolerate oats. They formed two groups, the first one was given the classic gluten-free diet and the other was allowed to eat oat products (wheat free). The study was able to confirm that the oats had not affected the intestinal mucose of the children that had consumed them and that it had also strengthened their immune systems.
However, for people suffering from coeliac disease it is recommended that they test themselves with specific amounts of oats to see what they can tolerate, beginning with small amounts and observing how the body reacts.
People with coeliac disease can perform a test phase and regularly check how they to react to gliadin, in order to recognise their oat intolerance as soon as possible.
Gliadin is the part of gluten that causes autoimmune reactions in the intestine in Coeliac Disease sufferers, causing symptoms in the intestinal mucose leading to diarrhea, stomach pain and flatulence. If we want to take advantage of the multiple health benefits of oats, we can consume it in the form we find the most appetising.
Ways to consume oats
Rolled and steel-cut oats
Once harvested, the shell is removed from the grain with a steel roller, leaving the internal part in the form of flakes. Another variety is steel-cut oats, also called Irish oats.
These may be found one, two or three millimeters in size (fine, coarse and medium). In both cases they are crushed,with little effort applied and they retain all their properties and nutrients. They may be consumed raw, the only cereal where this is possible.
Whole oatmeal is one of the healthiest foods known. How should we consume it?
Oatmeal and porridge is made with oatmeal flour. In addition to the usual type, there are also delicate oat flakes, which are made of smaller grains, as well as polycyclic flakes, which are made with whole oat grains.
All these products are usually eaten boiled and swell during cooking. Although their manufacturing process takes longer than that with other types, they have the advantage that the whole oat grains contain vitamins and minerals, which are very important for the proper functioning of the digestive tract and for intestinal flora.
Whole oatmeal is a staple that provides a mix of healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins as well as vitamins B6, B1, E, calcium and iron. Flour and flakes are usually consumed at breakfast and can be combined various kinds of fruit.
Oatmeal nutritional content:
100 g of flour from whole-grain oats provide:
Kcal: 348 KJ
Carbohydrates: 58.7 g
Protein: 12.5 g
Contribution of vitamins per 100g of whole oatmeal
Vitamin B1: 0.55 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.15 mg
Vitamin B6: 0.16 mg
Vitamin E: 1.2 mg
Quantity of minerals per 100g of oat flour
It is made with very small, fine, pre-cooked grains of oat flour that dissolve when mixed or shaken with liquids.
It is very popular as a performance-improving energy drink among bodybuilders, endurance sports athletes and those doing intensive training, since it nutrient content is very healthy and balanced.
Instant oatmeal has other interesting applications, especially for the elderly or the sick who cannot chew well and who may thereby replace full meals with this product, covering their nutritional needs simply and comfortably.
Another advantage of instant oatmeal is that it is the best alternative for those who do not find the taste of oats pleasant, since in this form it can be mixed and dissolved with water, juice, milk, stewed fruit, purees or any other type of hot or cold drink. This works especially well if mixed with a hot or cold beverage.
It is usually eaten at breakfast as a great way to start your day with plenty of energy and the appetite fully satiated. This makes it one of the best products for use in slimming diets. This form of oatmeal is the most versatile of all as it can be used for cooking, baking, thickening sauces and adding to salad dressings.
Nutritional value of instant oatmeal (per 100 g of instant oats)
Protein: 13.3 g
Fat: 6.8 g
Water: 13.4 g
Vitamins (per 100 g of instant oats)
Vitamin B1: 0.55 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.15 mg
Vitamin B6: 0.94 mg
Vitamin E: 1.2 mg
Minerals (per 100 g of instant oats)
Only the external layers of the oat grain are used for its manufacture, which include the husk and some pieces of grain.
Bran has the advantage that despite deriving from the outer layers of the grain, it contains between 80 and 85 percent of all the nutrients in oats, and above all, a large quantity of fibre. However, due to being made from the outer layers, it is harder to digest than other types of oats. Where can we find bran?
Bran is available as semolina (coarse ground) or soluble flakes.
Nutritional value of oat bran: 100 grammes of product provides a total of 250 calories, whose nutrients are divided up in the following way:
Glycaemic Index: 55
Bran naturally satiates the hunger and when ingested along with a glass of water is even more effective. It is also rich in fibre and promotes the elimination of toxins, making it the perfect ally in slimming diets while providing the body with a wide range of nutritional substance.
It is made with water, oat grains, oil and sea salt. It is free of fat and lactose. It is the favourite cereal drink of vegans and is also used in the preparation of muesli, as well as for cooking and baking.
Oat milk is high in nutrients: group B vitamins, protein, fibre, carbohydrates, calcium and essential amino acids.
It is ideal for diabetics, lowering the cholesterol level, improving the nervous system and reducing constipation.
It consists of the germinated seeds of the fresh plant, extracted before flowering. This form is not very well known, although it has all the basic nutrients the body needs (vitamins A, C, E and K) as well as potassium, magnesium, iron and essential amino acids.
It is often used to prepare infusions from liquid extract and juice from the plant itself. You can eat it alone or mix it with orange or carrot juice. It is traditionally used to treat nervous exhaustion, relieve stress symptoms and as an aid for improving sleep.
Nutritionists consider oats to be a more complete cereal and one of the healthiest foods that exists, so it is advisable to include it in our daily diet. Due to the multiple nutrients that it possesses, it helps children in their growth phase, is perfect for people who want to lose weight and those who need an energy food, such as athletes and bodybuilders.
For all these reasons it is the perfect breakfast cereal, since it provides strength throughout the day and all the nutrients that the body needs.
If, moreover, we combine it with fruit (preferably citrus, containing vitamin C) it becomes the most complete breakfast and an all-in-one food.
How to consume oatmeal
Oats are a versatile grain with which we can prepare thousands of dishes and smoothies.
Oatmeal flakes or cereals are rich in fibre and are ideal for breakfast, when mixed with milk or yogurt.
Oat flour dissolves instantly, making it perfect for smoothies, bread, pizza dough, pasta, pancake recipes, etc.
Who are oats especially ideal for?
Anyone seeking to add a healthy and natural product to their diet that provides energy and proteins of vegetable origin.
All types of athletes and active people who are looking for a powerful carbohydrate with a low glycaemic index that will provide fibre and prolonged energy.
Given the large number of vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates that it contains, it is an ideal food children’s optimal development.
It is an ideal food for the elderly since it promotes cardiovascular health (regulates cholesterol) and digestion (relieves constipation).
Being a low glycaemic index grain, it is suitable for diabetics.
It is an excellent source of vegetable protein for vegetarians or vegans.
Buy Instant Oatmeal
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Also see the wide range of oat powder flavours available: natural, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, custard, cheesecake, etc. which will give you many possibilities for making smoothies or for baking recipes.