Know Your Oats - The King of Breakfast Tables

Oats are known as one of the healthiest grains & for a reason. NO, we take it back. Actually there are multiple reasons. Oats are healthy, satisfying, versatile to cook & are a great source of important fiber, vitamins, minerals & antioxidants. The health benefits of including oats in your diet are many. Research says, consumption of oats help maintain heart health by lowering cholesterol levels, help maintain blood sugar levels, help relieve constipation, aid in weight management by providing fiber that helps you feel full longer & are excellent for skincare too.

Many health conscious individuals are including oats in their diets & though oats can be consumed through the day in many forms, primarily they feature on breakfast tables. But do we know all about this superfood known as oats? Wicked spoon confessions along with Rashida Vapiwala, Nutritionist and Food consultant brings to you a complete guide to knowing more about the king of breakfast tables- oats.

There are different forms of oats available in the market all derived from oat groats- whole  unflattened kernels with a rustic chewy taste & the outer inedible hull removed. Oat groats are good for using as breakfast cereal or for making pilafs. Oat groats are now easily available in health food stores but they take the longest amount of time to cook. One can even make whole grain oat flour with by grinding oat groats in a mill. Oat flour can be used used in baking & is at times combined with wheat or other gluten-containing flours to make leavened bread.

Steel-cut oats also known as Irish oatmeal are is made by passing oat groats through steel blades that thinly slices them, making the grain look like small grits. Rolled oats another popular variety also known as old fashioned oats are made by flattening the whole grain after being steamed and rolled. For a wholesome breakfast, Rashida advises to choose between plain rolled oats or steel cut oats, cooked in water or milk and coupled with wholesome ingredients like nuts or fruits.

The other varieties available in the markets are- Quick-cooking oats that are processed like old-fashioned oats, except they are cut finely before rolling & Instant oatmeal, produced by partially cooking the grains and then rolling them very thin. Often, sugar, salt and other ingredients are added to make the finished product. Its best to avoid the flavored, ready-to-cook, instant oats that are loaded with sugar, artificial colors, preservatives, sodium & more.

The goodness of oats also extends to Oat bran, the outer layer of the grain that resides under the hull. While oat bran is found in rolled oats and steel-cut oats, it may also be purchased as a separate product that can be added to recipes or cooked to make a hot cereal.

Now that we know about the different variety of oats, lets look at how to add this superfood to our daily meals. Oats can be cooked on a stove or your microwave. The time required for the oats to cook may vary on the form of oats you pick. Lets look at the best ways to cook the different oat varieties:

Instant oats: takes a couple of minutes to cook in water or milk. A lot of traditional indian breakfast recipes like idli, dosa, uttapam, upma, etc. can be made by replacing rice or semolina with instant oats, without affecting their cooking time.

Rolled oats: take a relative longer time to cook, as the grains are intact and thicker. Rolled oats work best with dairy and fresh fruit. You find rolled oats in a variety of mueslis that can be picked off the shelf.

Steel cut oats Since they are whole oat grains cut into finer pieces, these would require a longer time to cook, around 15-20 minutes on stove-tops. Pretty much like cooking brown rice, you may want to soak them for a bit prior to cooking to hasten the cooking process.

Oats are best known for their high soluble fiber content. Research indicates, β-glucan present in oats is extremely beneficial for reducing high cholesterol levels. Also the fiber from the oats keeps you full and satiated, until it’s time for your next meal. Considered to be a very important whole grain cereal, oats have been considered as a super food to curb heart diseases as it maintains blood pressure, blood sugar and controls your weight. Oats are also a rich source of certain phenolic compounds called avenanthramides, which curb the oxidation process and reduce cholesterol.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind before you purchase oats:

-Prefer picking oats that are least processed – oat groats, steel-cut oats or rolled oats.
-Instant oats can be chosen for convenience, but avoid the ready-to-eat one that filled with salt/sugar.
-Pick products that look clean
-Buy small quantities and do not store for too long

Rashida Vapiwala is a Nutritionist and Food consultant
You can reach her at:
Instagram account – rashida_vapiwala
LinkedIn – Rashida Vapiwala


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