Are the Various Types of Oatmeal Nutritionally the Same?

Oats gain part of their distinctive flavor from the roasting process that they undergo after being harvested and cleaned. Although oats are then hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and their germ allowing them to retain a concentrated source of their fiber and nutrients. Different types of processing are then used to produce the various types of oat products, which are generally used to make breakfast cereals, baked goods and stuffings:

  • Oat groats: unflattened kernels that are good for using as a breakfast cereal or for stuffing
  • Steel-cut oats: featuring a dense and chewy texture, they are produced by running the grain through steel blades that thinly slices them.
  • Old-fashioned oats: have a flatter shape that is the result of their being steamed and then rolled.
  • Quick-cooking oats: processed like old-fashioned oats, except they are cut finely before rolling
  • Instant oatmeal: produced by partially cooking the grains and then rolling them very thin. Oftentimes, sugar, salt and other ingredients are added to make the finished product.
  • Oat bran: the outer layer of the grain that resides under the hull. While oat bran is found in rolled oats and steel-cut oats, it may also be purchased as a separate product that can be added to recipes or cooked to make a hot cereal.
  • Oat flour: used in baking, it is oftentimes combined with wheat or other gluten-containing flours when making leavened bread.

The different types of oatmeal are not at all the same in terms of nutrition. The very outermost portion of the oat (called the hull) is always removed before the oat is eaten. However, once the hull has been removed, there are several further processing steps that can be taken. Because these additional processing steps almost always serve to lower the nutritional value of the oats, I recommend the least number of additional processing steps to give yourself the best nourishment possible from your oats. The least processed forms for oats are oat groats and steel-cut oats. Oat groats consist of the hulled but unflattened and unchopped oat kernels. Steel-cut oats are the same as oat groats, except for being chopped with steel blades. Because they are the least processed, these two forms of oats are also the most nutritious.

Old-fashioned oats are chopped, steamed, and rolled to give them their flatter shape. Because they are more processed, they are less nourishing than oat groats or steel-cut oats. However, they are still better sources of nourishment than most quick-cooking oats or instant oatmeals. Quick and instant oatmeal usually have their oat bran—the layer of the grain that’s just beneath the hull—removed. Many vitamins and much of the oat’s fiber are contained within the bran, and so its removal is particularly problematic when it comes to nutritional value. Oat groats, steel-cut oats, and, to a slightly lesser extent, old-fashioned or rolled oats would be your best choices here, with quick and instant oatmeal usually being less nourishing due to further processing and the removal of their bran.

Source: The World’s Healthiest Foods


Steel-cut oats Old-fashioned (rolled) oats Quick oats
Description Also called Irish or Scotch oats, these are cut, not rolled. They look like chopped-up rice, take the longest to cook, and have a slightly chewy consistency. Sometimes called rolled oats, these look like flat little ovals. When processing these oats, the kernels are steamed first, and then rolled to flatten them. They take longer to cook than quick oats but are quicker than steel-cut oats. Also called instant oats, these oats are precooked, dried, and then rolled. They cook in a few minutes when added to hot water and have a mushy texture.
Typical Serving Size 1/4 cup dry 1/2 cup dry 1/2 cup dry
Calories 170 190 150
Total Fat 3 g 3.5 g 3 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g 0.5 g 0.5 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 mg 0 mg
Sodium 0 mg 0 mg 0 mg
Carbs 29 g 32 g 27 g
Fiber 5 g 5 g 4 g
Sugars 0 g 1 g 1 g
Protein 7 g 7 g 5 g
Calcium 2% 2% 0%
Iron 10% 15% 10%

Surprised? It looks like they’re pretty similar, but one thing that sets them apart is how they compare on the glycemic index. The less-processed steel-cut oats have a much lower glycemic load than higher-processed quick oats. Low-GI foods slow down the rate that glucose (sugar) gets introduced into your body, and in contrast, high-GI foods cause a spike in your blood sugar as well as insulin, causing you to crave more sugary foods when your glucose levels drop. The best option then are the steel-cut oats, with rolled oats a great second choice. They’ll keep you feeling fuller longer, which will keep your energy levels up and help you lose weight.

Source: Popsugar


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Review Suggests Eating Oats Can Lower Cholesterol as Measured by a Variety of Markers

Researchers have known for more than 50 years that eating oats can lower cholesterol levels and thus reduce a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Studies during that time have focused on the impact of oats on levels of LDL (or “lousy”) cholesterol, which collects in the walls of blood vessels where it can cause blockages or blood clots.

But there is growing evidence that two other markers provide an even more accurate assessment of cardiovascular risk — non-HDL cholesterol (total cholesterol minus the “H” or “healthy cholesterol”) and apolipoprotein B, or apoB, a lipoprotein that carries bad cholesterol through the blood. This is especially true for people with metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes, since they typically do not have elevated LDL cholesterol levels.

A new systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials has concluded that eating oat fibre can reduce all three markers. The study, led by Dr. Vladimir Vuksan, a research scientist and associate director of the Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael’s Hospital, was published online today in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Dr. Vuksan said oats are a rich source of beta-glucan, a viscous soluble fibre, which seems to be responsible for the beneficial effects. The first study of its kind, published in 1963, found that substituting white bread with oat bread containing 140g of rolled oats lowered LDL cholesterol.

Dr. Vuksan’s group looked at 58 clinical trials involving almost 4,000 people from around the world that assessed the effect of diets enriched with oat beta-glucan compared with controlled diets on LDL cholesterol, and, for the first time, on non-HDL cholesterol and apoB as well.

“Diets enriched with about 3.5 grams a day of beta-glucan fiber from oats were found to modestly improve LDL cholesterol, but also non-HDC and apoB compared to control diets,” Dr. Vuksan said.

The review found that overall, LDL cholesterol was reduced by 4.2 per cent, non-HDL cholesterol by 4.8 per cent and apoB by 2.3 per cent.

Dr. Vuksan said it could be difficult for people to consume the recommended amount of oat fiber by eating oat meal alone so he recommends people increase their consumption of oat bran. For example, one cup of cooked oat bran (88 calories) contains the same quantity of beta-glucan as double the amount of cooked oat meal (166 calories). Oat bran can also be eaten as a cereal, used in some baked goods (although since it is low in gluten, the texture may be tough) or sprinkled on other foods.

Canada is the third largest producer of oats in the world, so increasing consumption is good for health and the economy as well, Dr. Vuksan said. Consumption of oats has been declining considerably for many years.

Source: EurekAlert!


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Quaker Oats’ 100% Natural Claim Questioned in Lawsuit

A lawsuit seeking to be certified as a class action has been filed on behalf of consumers in New York and California against the owner of Quaker Oats after testing found traces of the pesticide glyphosate in some oatmeal.

While the level of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weed killer Roundup, detected in the oatmeal falls well below the limit set by federal regulators for human consumption, the lawsuit accuses Quaker of false advertising because it markets the oatmeal as “100% natural.”

Quaker, which is owned by PepsiCo, says on its website that the oats used in its products are grown in an environmentally responsible way. “Since oats require less herbicide spray than many other grains, there is less risk of pollutants and groundwater contamination,” it says.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Courts in New York and California, contends that such statements are false and misleading. “There is nothing unlawful about Quaker Oats’ growing and processing methods,” the suit says. “What is unlawful is Quaker’s claim that Quaker Oats is something that it is not in order to capitalize on growing consumer demand for healthful, natural products.”

In a statement, the Quaker Oats Company said that it did not add glyphosate during any part of the milling process but that it might be applied by farmers to certain grains before harvest.

The company said it puts the oats it receives through a cleansing process. “Any levels of glyphosate that may remain are trace amounts and significantly below any limits which have been set by the E.P.A. as safe for human consumption,” the company said.

A test paid for by lawyers for the plaintiffs, the Richman Law Group, found glyphosate at a level of 1.18 parts per million in a sample of Quaker Oats Quick 1-Minute. This is roughly 4 percent of the 30 parts per million that the Environmental Protection Agency allows in cereal grains.

An independent lab in California did the testing, using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, a technique widely used by medical and chemical labs and pharmaceutical research.

Although testing was done only on Quick 1-Minute, the lawsuit also makes claims against Quaker Oats Old-Fashioned and Quaker Steel Cut Oats.

Glyphosate is one of the most widely used pesticides around the world. The Monsanto Company began selling the pesticide in the 1970s. But it was the introduction of genetically engineered crops two decades later that fueled the sharp increase in the use of the pesticide. Those crops now account for most of the corn, soy, sugar beets and canola grown in the United States.

Glyphosate also is widely used in home gardens, on golf courses and other places.

Last year, the World Health Organization classified glyphosate as a “probable” carcinogen. Since then, environmental and consumer groups have begun to focus their efforts on the pesticide, and a growing number of reports on glyphosate in food have surfaced.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration said it planned to begin testing some foods for glyphosate.

The biotech industry and food companies contend that the levels of glyphosate found in products fall well below limits set by government officials. The European Union sets the average daily level of intake for glyphosate at 0.3 milligrams per kilogram, while the Environmental Protection Agency sets it at 1.75 milligrams per kilogram daily.

Kim Richman, the lead lawyer of the firm representing the plaintiffs, said the amount of glyphosate was not the issue. “The issue is that Quaker advertises these products as 100 percent natural, and glyphosate in any amount is not natural,” he said.

Oats are not a genetically engineered crop. But glyphosate is increasingly being used as a “dessicant” to dry out crops to speed harvesting.

The lawsuit was filed over the weekend in New York and California, and, Mr. Richman said, would be filed in other states this week.

The plaintiffs are seeking refunds for purchasers. They also are asking that PepsiCo either be required to reformulate the products or disclose the presence of glyphosate in them.

Source: The New York Times