The first meal most people think of when they hear the word “oats” is Oatmeal for breakfast, and with good reason. A substantial, warming breakfast, loaded with fruit to add sweetness and extra nutrition, is a very healthy start to the day on a cold winter’s morning.
The nutritional benefit comes in particular from the soluble fiber which has been shown to help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, reduce the risk of some cancers and increase the resistance to infections, among other things. Oats also have substantial mineral content, being particularly high in manganese and selenium.
Oats are roasted after being harvested and cleaned, which helps give them their distinctive flavor. They are then hulled, but this doesn’t remove all the bran and germ, so they keep much of their nutritional value. They are processed by steaming and rolling (rolled oats), slicing thinly (steel-cut oats), partially cooking (instant oats), or grinding (oat flour) to give them the consistency and cooking time required. Watch out for the additional sugar and salt often added to instant oats which makes for a quicker, but less nutritious breakfast.
In addition to breakfast cereals, oats are often used in cookies and cobblers, and oat flour can be used to make cookies, pies and muffins. Since the natural fats in oats can go rancid, it is best to buy oats in smaller quantities and store them in the refrigerator if you’re not using them regularly.Read more