Is Oatmeal Healthy?
Oatmeal is an increasingly popular meal choice — no matter the time of day. With its creamy texture and ability to taste good both hot and cold (overnight oats, anyone?), this whole grain has a lot going for it. But is oatmeal actually healthy? Let’s find out.
Oatmeal is High in Nutrients and Fiber
One-half cup of dry oats contains four grams of fiber and a variety of B-vitamins, plus the minerals iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and a little bit of potassium. This amount also contains 150 calories, 5 grams of protein, and 27 grams of whole-grain carbohydrates.
Oatmeal Is Antioxidant-Rich
Oatmeal also contains antioxidants known as polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds that help the body fight oxidative stress and inflammation. Oxidative stress is a known contributor to aging and disease, as it causes a buildup of harmful molecules called free radicals that damage cells and DNA. The most notable antioxidant found in oats is a unique group called avenanthramides, which are found almost exclusively in this whole grain.
Oatmeal Supports a Healthy Weight
Due to its fiber content, oatmeal can help support healthy body weight management if consumed in moderation. Fiber helps increase satiety or fullness from a meal, reducing intake and cravings. One population-based study found that people who regularly consume oatmeal are more likely to be of normal BMI than obese. Further, a randomized controlled trial found that eating oatmeal increased fullness, reduced hunger, and reduced caloric intake at the next meal, compared to those who ate a bowl of breakfast cereal.
Oatmeal is a Heart-Healthy Option
Oatmeal has a unique type of fiber known as beta-glucan, a soluble fiber. While our bodies need both soluble and insoluble fiber, soluble fiber is most recognized for its role in reducing cholesterol levels and supporting cardiovascular health. Plus, beta-glucan acts as an antioxidant, helps to maintain healthy digestion, prevents gut inflammation, and may even ward off Alzheimer’s disease.
Are There Downsides of Eating Oatmeal?
While there are many health benefits of oatmeal, it can become potentially unhealthy if you eat too much at one time. While one-half cup contains 150 calories and 27 grams of carbs, many people consume double or triple this amount, and the impact on blood sugar and metabolism may become unhealthy. However, the bottom line is that oatmeal is a whole-grain, heart-healthy, gut-benefiting, weight-lowering healthy food when consumed regularly and in moderation.