Oats are pretty much the perfect food, especially when it comes to good health. Not only are they rich in nutrients and fiber, they’re also incredibly versatile and filling – which is good news if you’re looking to lose weight or be more productive throughout the day. From fighting cancer to lowering cholesterol, there are plenty of reasons why oats should be a staple in your diet. Here are eight amazing benefits of oats that you’ll definitely want to try out yourself!
1) Improve Digestion
Fiber is a tough nut to crack, but it’s also a must-have nutrient. Eat more fiber by loading up on oats and chia seeds. Fiber will keep you full longer, prevent blood sugar spikes, and will aid in digestion. Some benefits of fiber include regulating your heart rate, preventing depression and anxiety, improving symptoms of IBS and diverticulitis, reducing cholesterol levels, promoting regularity (among other things), relieving constipation (and keeping you from needing laxatives), lowering risk for certain cancers including breast cancer and type 2 diabetes. Plus it’s a great source of antioxidants! The recommended daily intake for men is 30-38 grams per day; for women 24-30 grams per day.
2) Protect Against Heart Disease
A study published in Clinical Nutrition Research suggests that eating oats can reduce LDL cholesterol levels. That’s because oats contain soluble fiber, which has been proven to reduce blood cholesterol levels by binding bile acids and removing them from your body. In other words, soluble fiber—like what’s found in oats—could help prevent hardening of your arteries and heart disease. Sweet! To reap these benefits, eat 1/2 cup (60 g) of cooked steel-cut oats daily.
3) Lower Cholesterol
You’ve heard that oats can lower cholesterol—and it’s true. The soluble fiber found in oats has been shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad, cholesterol by 5–10% after eating 3.5 ounces for a month. The best part? According to research from Indiana University, eating a high-fiber diet with whole grains like oats may lead to an additional 12–24% reduction in LDL cholesterol over five years. Fiber isn’t just good for your heart—it also reduces risk of diabetes and promotes regularity! What more could you ask for in a food? Add some oats to your diet today!
4) Maintain Blood Sugar Levels
The FDA recommends that people with diabetes eat 6-11 servings of whole grains every day to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. The soluble fiber in oats is known to help with digestion and can provide you with slow-burning energy. For example, a serving of instant oatmeal has around 100 calories, compared to 110 calories for a packet of flavored instant oatmeal; yet you get twice as much fiber in your bowl (as well as extra minerals). A high intake of whole grains may also reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes by up to 27%.
5) Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Oats contain something called beta-glucan, which is a soluble fiber that helps lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. This is important because many people who struggle with their weight often have a hard time managing blood sugar levels. Because these complex carbs digest slowly, oats can help keep your blood sugar from spiking and plunging throughout the day. By helping stabilize your blood sugar, oats can also make you feel full longer after eating them. One of the best things about using oats to lose weight is that they’re naturally tasty and versatile—it’s easy to come up with all sorts of ways to incorporate them into your diet.
6) Keep You Feeling Full Longer
Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber, a type of fiber that helps reduce hunger and contributes to weight loss by keeping you feeling full longer. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating high-fiber foods, like oatmeal, resulted in lower calorie intake throughout an entire day than eating low-fiber foods. To reap these benefits at breakfast, make sure to select oats over corn flakes or another processed cereal for added health benefits. For an added boost of satiating fiber and nutrients, top your bowl with fresh fruit (or freeze dried) and unsweetened nuts or seeds. Just be sure to keep them away from your actual oatmeal because they'll add unwanted calories as well as extra sugar—which defeats our whole purpose here!
7) Stimulate Brain Function and Memory
There are several nutrients found in oats that provide a boost to memory and mental performance. A study published in a 2011 issue of Neurobiology indicated that adults who consumed more beta-glucan from oats performed better on cognitive tests than adults who did not consume as much. A whole-grain diet rich in beta-glucan has also been linked to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and improved heart health. Additionally, another study suggested that adults age 50 and older who ate whole grains were more likely to stay sharp with age than those who consumed processed grains. Simply including more oats into your daily diet can be a great way to support overall brain health and memory.
8) Improve Bone Health
In one recent study, women who consumed three servings per day of oats for 12 weeks had a significantly greater bone mineral density in their spine than those who did not consume oats. This could be attributed to beta-glucan, which has been shown to promote bone growth by decreasing destructive inflammatory cytokines that damage bone. Incorporate these benefits into your diet by incorporating 2 tablespoons per day into your diet. You can add it to oatmeal or Greek yogurt and then top with your favorite fruit or nut butter.
Although oats are most often associated with breakfast, they’re also a great addition to salads, soups and stews. Chewing oats can help control blood sugar levels and prevent or manage diabetes. Whether it’s as a part of your morning routine or in another meal throughout your day, adding some oatmeal to your diet may not just be healthy—it could also improve digestive health, lower cholesterol and even help you lose weight. Adding more oats to your diet is a smart idea for anyone looking to get healthier. To find out more about how oats can benefit you, contact a nutritionist at one of our clinic locations today!
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