Did you know that there’s probably no better way to gain enough strength to carry you through a day full of activities than with a bowl of freshly made oatmeal. Oats are normally harvested during autumn but are easily available throughout the year and can provide an extra kick of nutrition to a wide array of healthy dishes.
Oats are scientifically known as Avena sativa, a kind of cereal grain, that’s hard enough to withstand the often unforgiving soil conditions in which other root crops are unable to thrive. Oats get part of its flavour from the process of roasting which they undergo after being harvested and cleaned. And thought oats are hulled, the process itself does not take away their bran and germ which allows them to preserve the source of their nutrients and fiber.
Oats undergo different types of processing to create an array of oat products which are generally used to create baked products, breakfast cereals, and other food stuffings. Below are some examples of different types of oats.
1. Oat groats
these are oat kernels that are left un-flattened and are good in making cereals and stuffing.
2. Steel-cut oats
they are usually dense and have a chewy nature; these are oat grains that have been thinly sliced with steel blades; thus the name.
3. Old-fashioned oats
these oats have a flat shape which is a result of being steamed then rolled afterwards
4. Instant oatmeal
these are thinly rolled grains that have been partially cooked. Most of the time, salt, sugar and other ingredients are added before it can be turned into a finished product.
5. Oat flour
is commonly used in baking and is often combined with other gluten-containing flours or wheat when creating leavened bread.
The Health Benefits of Oats
1. It lowers your cholesterol levels
A bowl of oatmeal in the morning is a great way to start off your day. And if you are currently dealing with diabetes or any heart disease, oatmeal can especially be good for you. It can also help prevent the occurrence of various cardiovascular problems. Oatmeal contains fiber referred to as beta-glucan. The beneficial effects of this fiber on the body’s cholesterol levels have since been proven back in 1963. High cholesterol levels are a precursor to plaque build-up in the walls of the blood vessels. If these plaques grow too big or become damaged, it can rupture and block a blood vessel ergo causing a stroke, a heart attack or may cause the development of blood clots in different areas of the body. Therefore, reducing the amount of cholesterol in the body can help significantly in reducing the risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
2. Oatmeal can help enhance your system’s immune response to infections
Beta-glucan, the fiber in oatmeal can help boost the immune system’s response to several bacterial infections. Beta-glucan helps neutrophils to quickly mobilize at the infection site and also strengthens their ability to fight off whatever bacteria they may find in there.
3. It helps stabilize your blood sugar levels
Type 2 diabetics who were made to include oatmeal in their diets have reported to have experienced lesser rises in their sugar levels as opposed to those who were not taking oatmeal and are provided with rice and/or bread. Starting your day with foods that can regulate your blood sugar levels can be very beneficial to maintaining your health.
4. It can help you get protected against breast cancer
Studies have shown that a fiber-rich diet can offer significant protection against the development of breast cancer especially for premenopausal women. Fibers from fruits are effective but those supplied from whole grains and oats offer the most protection in this case.
5. Whole grains such as oats and fish can help derail the occurrence of childhood asthma
According to the latest census of the American Lung Association, there are over 20 million Americans who suffer from asthma. It is discovered that increasing the consumption levels of whole grains as well as fish could minimize the risk of childhood asthma by at least 50%.