Packed Full of Goodness
Oats contain protein, fiber, selenium, magnesium, and phosphorus, all packing a serious punch into such a small grain. In order for your body to access all that goodness, they need to first go through some processing. After harvesting, oat kernels have to be cleaned, dehulled, and kiln dried, leaving you with little nutrient-packed groats (also known as oat berries).
From Groats To Oats
Groats go through further processing to make a variety of oat products:
|STEEL CUT OATS||To make steel cut oats, groats are simply cut into two to four pieces. Because there is minimal change to the groat, it is considered the least processed option.|
|ROLLED OATS||Rolled oats are made by steaming and then flattening the groats between two rollers. The steam adds moisture, to prevent them from crumbling while rolling.|
|QUICK OATS||Quick oats are made the same way as rolled oats, they're just rolled thinner; the thinner the flake the shorter the cooking time. (1)|
Does Processing Affect Nutrition?
The thin flake of the quick oats also means faster digestion. The starch granules are exposed on the large surface area, making it easier for digestive enzymes to do their work quickly. This results in a higher glycemic response, or a higher rise in blood glucose.
Steel cut oats have a lower glycemic index (GI) and, therefore and a lower rise in blood glucose levels simply because of the difference in processing and shape. Your digestive enzymes have to work longer break down the thicker pieces and access the starch inside. Think of this just like the longer simmer steel cut oats take to cook. Rolled oats have a lower GI as well.
If you have diabetes, choosing low glycemic index foods, such as steel cut oats, as well as monitoring the total grams of carbohydrate, may help you manage your blood glucose level. (2)
Health Benefits of Oats
- Lowering Cholesterol
- Lowering Blood Glucose Levels
- Reducing Risk of Heart Diseaser
- Great Source of Fiber
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Beta-glucan: All three types of oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that helps lower total and LDL cholesterol,(3) as well as blood glucose levels. Including oats in a healthy diet is a good choice for someone wanting to lower their cholesterol and reduce their risk of heart disease. Beta-glucan is also a fermentable fiber. When dietary fiber is fermented in the colon, short-chain fatty acids are produced. These have an anti-inflammatory effect and may protect against colon cancer.
Avenanthramides: Oats also contain avenanthramides which are unique polyphenols with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Do Oats Contain Gluten?
No. Oats, themselves, do not contain gluten; however, they are typically grown next to or in rotation with wheat, rye, and barley. Also, the equipment used for planting, harvesting, storage, milling, transport is usually shared with gluten-containing crops. This means conventionally grown oats contain gluten, due to cross-contamination. If you have celiac disease or are following a gluten-free diet, choose oat products labeled gluten free.