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10 Benefits of Oatmeal You Probably Never Knew

I was first introduced to Oatmeal as a kid. My mother would always rave about its health benefits, while we ate our sugar-filled cereal. Years later while doing a lot of competitive swimming, I found that I needed something that was more “substantial” and less “sugary,” and when I started eating oatmeal before morning practices, it was literally a night and day difference in my performance in the pool and energy levels. I just felt great overall! Also, oatmeal is a warm meal, so it’s much more inviting than cold cereal in the morning.

Years later, after getting a degree in food chemistry did I realize WHY oatmeal was so great for you. Some benefits I probably never would have known. The best part about all this, is you most likely have oats in your cupboard right now. Indeed, it is estimated that eighty percent of people have oats in their cupboard on a regular basis!

1. Helps control weight.
Let’s face it, we could all use some help at times, but did you ever think oatmeal could help control your weight? It’s true! According to a research study published in the October 2009 issue of “Molecular Nutrition & Food Research” a compound in oatmeal known as β-glucan reduces appetite by increasing the hunger-fighting hormone cholecystokinin.

2. Reduces blood pressure.
We all know that heart disease is a major problem in North America and throughout the world. One study published in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a diet which includes plenty of whole-grains (such as oats or wholemeal bread) is just as effective as taking anti-hypertensive medication to lower blood pressure!

3. Reduces cholesterol.
Have you ever heard of soluble fiber? Well, compared to other grains, oats actually have the highest portion of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps your intestinal tract trap substances associated with blood cholesterol. Studies show that people with high blood cholesterol who eat just 3 g of soluble fiber per day can reduce their total cholesterol by 8% to 23% (remember that one cup of oats yields 4 g)!

4. Shields your skin.
If you look closely on the labels of some of your lotions or face creams, you probably will see oatmeal in there. At some point in history, someone discovered how great oatmeal is for dry, itchy, irritated skin. The starchiness of oats creates a barrier that allows the skin to hold its moisture, while the rougher fibrous husk of the oat acts as a gentle exfoliant.

5. Lowers risk of colon cancer.
Cancer of the colon is horrible and can be very painful. One study, pooled by researchers in Britain and the Netherlands, published evidence that there was a link between people who ate a high fiber diet (mainly from whole grains and cereals like oats) to a lower risk of colorectal cancer. This study also covered nearly 2 million people and specifically found that for every additional 10 grams of fiber in someone’s diet, there is a 10% reduction in their risk of developing colorectal cancer!

6. Stabilizes blood sugar.
What does this mean? We have all experienced a “sugar crash”/ “mid morning slump” after a big meal or sugary breakfast; well, with oatmeal, this doesn’t happen as much. As a result of oatmeal’s high soluble fiber content, its sugar is released more slowly into the blood stream (aka, it has a low glycemic index). It’s important to note that steel cut oats will have more of an effect on stabilizing your blood sugar than instant oats, because they are less processed and thus have more soluble fiber. Another added bonus, is because it takes longer to digest, you will feel full longer—wahoo!

In my opinion, oatmeal’s low glycemic index is one of the best benefits. In fact, one study in the Journal of Clinical Nutritionmentioned that diet producing a low glycemic response is associated with significantly less insulin resistance and significantly lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, risk of type 2 diabetes, and risk of coronary artery disease, than with a diet producing a high glycemic response.


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