Oats – The Humble Breakfast Hero

Oats are an age-old breakfast staple, commonly eaten through the cooler months of winter in the form of a warm bowl of porridge. When it comes to ‘bang for your buck’ look no further than the humble oat! With proven health benefits and the diverse, convenient ways in which they can be enjoyed by your family, they should not be overlooked as a true ‘breakfast hero’. So, what makes Oats a nutritious breakfast option?  Do they oat-to-make an appearance in your shopping trolley? Well, we are here to tell you just that!

Oats and Nutrition

Not only are they an affordable option, but they are also incredibly nutritious. They are a great source of:

  • Fibre promoting regular bowel movements and help keep you fuller for longer
  • Phosphorus essential in bone and teeth health, muscle contractions and nerve function
  • Thiamine which assists us in getting the energy we need from the food we eat and nerve and muscle function
  • Magnesium promotes strong bones and assists in building proteins and regulating blood pressure and muscle and nerve function
  • Zinc is essential in supporting a healthy immune system and growth and repair within the body (Harvard School of Public Health, Unknown).

Do They Play a Role in Disease Management?

Oats are not only a great source of vitamins and minerals, but also rich in a type of fibre known as beta-glucan fibre. Beta-Glucan may play a role in the prevention and management of certain diseases and health conditions, including:

  • Diabetes: by preventing sharp increases in blood sugar levels
  • Weight Management: by the potential effect of increasing feelings of fullness which may reduce overall energy intake to assist with weight loss
  • Digestive Health: by increasing the diversity of the gut microbiome which may enhance overall digestive health
  • Heart Health: through a decline in cholesterol levels. (Harvard School of Public Health, Unknown)

Additionally, oats are a good source of phenolic compounds and phytoestrogens which act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation associated with diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.(Harvard School of Public Health, Unknown)

What Kind of Oats Should I Include?

There are many varieties available on the market- quick oats, rolled oats, oat bran and steel cut oats. So, which is best? The nutritional content is reasonably comparative between oat types. In saying this, although the nutritional content may be similar, a less processed oat will take longer to digest which may have favourable impacts on blood sugar control and potentially leave you feeling fuller for longer. Therefore, a rolled or steel-cut oat may have a better impact on blood sugar control, however, pending your schedule and taste preferences, quick oats may be a more convenient option.

When choosing oats, opt for 100% oat products, as many flavoured varieties add refined sugar.

So, does that mean you have to compromise on taste? No!

So, How Can You Make Oats More Interesting?

Here are some of our favourite ways to enjoy oats:

  • Sprinkle them on your cereal or yoghurt paired with fruit
  • Create your own muesli using oats as the base with added seeds, nuts and dried fruit to served with reduced-fat milk or yoghurt
  • Use in baking by creating oat flour or sprinkling on banana bread
  • Add oats to a smoothie
  • Spice up good old-fashioned porridge by adding fruit, spices such as cinnamon, seeds, nuts and/or nut butters!
  • Banana Berry Porridge: Mash half a banana into your oats, add your favourite milk and dash of cinnamon and cook. When ready, top with berries and enjoy!
  • Overnight Oats: combine 1-part oats with 2-parts fluid of choice (milk/milk alternatives / reduced-fat Greek yoghurt), add in some of your favourite fruit such as berries, banana or grated apple with a dash of cinnamon. Enjoy on the run or serve with extras such as nut butter, seeds, nuts, fresh fruit and yoghurt!
  • Banana Oat Pancakes: Blitz 1 banana, ½ cup rolled oats, 1 x egg, a dash of milk and sprinkle of cinnamon to create the batter. Cook pancakes on the pan over medium heat and serve with fresh fruit and yoghurt!

Readily available and cost-effective, oats are an excellent breakfast option, which can be both nutritious and delicious kick start to your family’s day! Share your favourite ways to enjoy oats by tagging @SCDietetics in your Instagram post. Looking to learn more about nutrition? Head to our website to get in contact with one of our awesome Dietitian’s today!