Oatmeal is one of those foods that everyone probably grew up on. I know my parents made me eat it (or some variation of it) every day throughout my entire childhood. I abandoned oatmeal for about five years when I grew up and moved out, but I went back and now it’s a regular part of my diet. Oatmeal nutrition is something that I can no longer ignore.
But… is oatmeal good for you? The answer is – Yes. Turns out my parents (and everyone else’s parents) were actually on to something; starting your day with oatmeal is unbelievably healthy. Here are some oatmeal health benefits and fiber nutrition information.
Reasons oatmeal is such a good choice:
A Food of Convenience
One obvious benefit of oatmeal is that it’s right there. Most people have oats in the pantry, and they cook it in only a few minutes, so oatmeal is not only a healthy food but a food of convenience as well.
Oatmeal is all-natural. You should avoid things with unpronounceable ingredients, but you won’t find any of those in oats. Most likely, unless you get a flavored variety, the only ingredient in your oats will be oats.
Oatmeal is a great dietary fiber supplement. One serving of oatmeal contains a great deal of dietary fiber – between 7 and 8 grams, or 15% of your recommended daily intake. This means that by eating oatmeal for fiber, you’re speeding up the time that other food takes to pass through your system too. This can help in protecting against certain cancers of the colon and intestines. It’s also going to absorb a lot of water in the bowels and thus help against bloating and constipation.
Fights Off Bad Cholesterol
Oatmeal’s high fiber content helps to protect against heart disease. Oats contain both soluble and insoluble fiber; soluble fiber is heart-healthy because it helps to fight off LDL or “bad” cholesterol, lowering levels of triglycerides in the blood. One serving of oatmeal is a heart-healthy start to a day.
Helps those on a Diet
Since oatmeal absorbs a lot of water, you’ll feel satisfied and full longer. This is great for those on a diet – there’s nothing worse than a food that leaves you feeling hungry soon after you’ve eaten.
Good Food for Type 2 Diabetics
The carbohydrates in oatmeal are complex and take longer to digest, which means that it raises your blood sugar more slowly. This makes oatmeal a good food for type 2 diabetics.
Protein Source for Vegetarians
And yes, it’s high in carbohydrates, but oatmeal also contains protein – 5 grams a serving, to be exact, meaning oatmeal is a good carb choice for vegetarians as well.
Protection against Gall and Kidney Stones
Slower-digesting foods like oatmeal can help protect against gall and kidney stones because they don’t require the body to release large amounts of insulin to counteract a sugar spike.
Good Source of Minerals
Oatmeal is also a good source of iron (10% of your recommended daily intake), thiamin (25%), magnesium (28%), phosphorus (33%) and manganese (147%).
Don’t start off your day with empty calories like pastries, muffins, and sugary cereals when oatmeal is delicious, healthy, and convenient. Just cook up half a cup of oats, top with some antioxidant cranberries or protein-rich nuts, or sweeten with honey, and you’ve got a breakfast that tastes great and makes you feel good.
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.