"Oats" are among the most sought after grain these days among weight watchers and health conscious people. Is oats that healthy? or is it just being boasted around the community? Let's find out...
Oats is a cereal that needs less nutrient but adequate water supply for its growth. It has a good amount of fiber, starch, protein and unsaturated fats. Also is a good source of micronutrients such as vitamin E, folates, zinc, iron, selenium, copper, manganese, carotenoids, betaine, choline, sulphur containing amino acids, phytic acid, lignins, lignane and alkyl resorcinols.
Oats contain 60% starch and nearly 25% of it is resistant starch, which does not get digested in our gut but instead gets fermented and acts as a substrate for colonic bacteria, thus it is mostly regarded as a prebiotic rather than a starch. There are mostly gluten free and the amount of gluten, if present depends on the cultivators. The important dietary fiber in oats is beta - glucan. It has been suggested to have positive effects against high cholesterol levels and diabetes. Alongside the macronutrients there are a number of phytochemicals that have functional qualities like tocopherols, tocotrienols, phytic acid, flavanoids and non flavanoid phenoilc compounds.
TYPES OF OATS COMMONLY FOUND IN MARKETS:
With numerous manufacturers flooding the cereal markets with different varieties of oats, there are some simple keywords that might help you choose better.
1. Rolled Oats: Steamed and flattened with steel rollers - it considerably reduces the cooking time. There are 2 types - Old fashioned oats, predominantly used in oat meals and baked products which are less processed and have much of the bran intact. Secondly, Quick cooking oats and instant oats, used in breakfast cereals which are more processed.
2. Steel Cut oats : As the name implies the oat groats are simply cut into coarse nubs using steel blades. Since they are not rolled or pre-steamed they take longer time to cook and have minimal nutrient losses during processing. They are mainly used in stews and soups and have a bit chewy texture
3.Oat groats: These are just whole oat grains that have not undergone any process like cutting or steaming or rolling. They can be just used as a rice substitute.
4. Scottish Oats: These are a variety of oats that are stone ground to a powdered consistency
Which variety should I buy?
The answer depends on your needs, if you are a busy person who has literally no time to cook or needing a last minute breakfast, you can choose quick cooking or instant or Scottish varieties. If you have time to sit and relish then choose old fashioned or steel cut oats. If you are a health conscious nerd then go for oat groats. Also the glycemic index of oat varieties vary between 50 to 70 depending on the fiber, processing and other factors.
Oat groats > Steel Cut oats > Old fashioned/Scottish Oats > Quick cooking or instant oats
What does the trending overnight oats have to offer?
Firstly , it is a no cook recipe and secondly it can be done the night before and can be consumed straight in the morning for breakfast without cooking. It is just an easy and less time consuming recipe. But, mostly recipes include quick cook oats which already have less bran. When added with a good protein source like milk or protein powders along with fruits it does make a wholesome breakfast, the only concern that revolves around overnight oats is that most of these recipes is the usage of raw oats which might have a good amount of phytic acid that creates a concern, but however the claims against phytic acids are still controversial.
Tips to make your oats recipes ever more healthier:
1. Add a teaspoon of oil seeds like flax, pumpkin seeds, etc and nuts like chopped almonds, pistachios, cashews etc.
2. Add cut fruits for a colourful meal
3. Add vegetables like chopped carrots, beans, capsicum and beans to your oats
4. Try adding an array of masalas like garam masala or spices like cinnamon, star anise or cardamon to your oat preparations like biriyani, upma, etc to enhance the taste (Check out our deliciously healthy Oats Biryani recipe here )
Yes oats are a great cereal to try, it has its own nutritional benefits, just try to have a balanced meal to get the best of what the chewy and gummy cereal has to offer. Also oats are not native to India, millets which are commonly grown in India have similar benefits so next time give them a try as well. kudos!!!