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Oatmeal is considered the breakfast of champions and for good reason. This popular grain contains more fiber than most grains and is good for the heart, stomach and bowels. Although they come in many forms, some oats are healthier than others. So, what is the healthiest oatmeal?
Types of Oatmeal
All types of oatmeal are made from the same grain. The way each type is processed is what makes them different.
Groats are the purest form of oatmeal. They are made from hulled grains, which are then toasted to make them more edible. Groats are considered the healthiest oatmeal because they go through very little processing. Because the grains are still whole, nutrients stay intact.
Oat groats take longer to prepare than other types. One of the best ways to prepare this oatmeal is to cook over medium heat, turn off the stove and leave to cook overnight. Serve in the morning.
Steel Cut Oats
Steel cut oats, also known as Irish oats, are the second healthiest oatmeal. The grains are hulled and cut into small chunks. Steel cut varieties are also highly nutritious and are a favorite choice for many because of their nutty taste.
Stone-ground oats are smaller than steel cut oats. Also known as Scottish oats, they contain reasonable amounts of nutrients to benefit your health. Because they are ground, they don’t take as long to cook as steel cut oats and can save you time if you have a busy schedule.
Rolled oats are considered “traditional” because they are the most consumed type. The grains are harvested, toasted, steamed and run through rollers to flatten the flakes. Their benefit is that they cook much faster than groats and steel cut oats. Unfortunately, they contain fewer nutrients because the grains go through more processing.
Some oats are rolled even further to reduce cooking time, which is why they are called quick oats. Flatter flakes might be convenient for busy people but they fair even lower on the nutrition scale.
These are undoubtedly the least healthy oatmeal. Not only are they steamed and flattened, the grains are also pre-cooked. The flakes are then dehydrated before hitting store shelves. Some are flavored to enhance taste.
Needless to say, instant oatmeal has little nutritional value. Because it is stripped of fiber, it is less satiating and is not as beneficial to digestive health. Pre-cooking also reduces the amount of essential minerals like manganese, magnesium and zinc.
Health Benefits of Oatmeal
Oatmeal is revered for its fiber, which makes it a filling breakfast. Because fiber also stabilizes blood sugar, you can enjoy sustained energy throughout the day. Oatmeal is an excellent meal for people with poor digestion and can ease difficult bowel movements as well.
A bowl of oatmeal a day can improve immunity because it contains selenium and zinc. Oats are also high in phosphorus, manganese and phosphorus, minerals that are instrumental to bone, muscle and heart health.