Whether you're having oats in muesli, overnight oats, homemade muffins, yogurt bowls or even smoothies, the benefits of eating oats can’t be undersold.
Did you know that oats are the sixth most cultivated cereal crop worldwide? Not only are they popular around the world, but because oats are full of special types of fiber, plant-based protein and even antioxidants, eating oats is linked to better health.
6 Health Benefits of Oats
Oats can help with weight loss, support digestion, improve cholesterol levels, lead to better blood sugar control, and more.
1. Oats are High in Fiber (for Digestion and Heart Health)
Like other whole grains, oats are full of dietary fiber, which helps to regulate digestion, promote gut health by contributing to growth of healthy bacteria, and prevent constipation.
Specifically, oats are one of the best sources of the type of soluble fiber known as beta-glucan, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health because it helps maintain normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
A diet high in fiber and beta-glucan can help to prevent high cholesterol (both total and "bad" LDL cholesterol) because it traps cholesterol in your bloodstream, prevents your body from reabsorbing it, and helps your body expel more cholesterol.
2. Oats are a Source of Ligans and Antioxidants
Something that makes oats somewhat unique is their supply of plant lignans, which are compounds found in some whole grains and seeds that protect against cardiovascular diseases.
Additionally, oats contain antioxidants, such as avenanthramides, that defend against free radicals and oxidative stress. Consuming foods with antioxidants helps to protect cells from damage and may lower the risk for developing certain diseases, such as diabetes, some cancers and heart disease.
3. Oats are Rich in Minerals
Within oats you'll find essential nutrients including manganese, selenium, phosphorus and magnesium. These contribute to bone/skeletal health, thyroid function, and muscle and nerve functions.
For example, manganese helps form connective tissues and assists in bone clotting, while selenium is needed to produce enough thyroid hormones.
4. Oats are Filling and a Good Source of Plant-Based Protein
Due to their high fiber and protein content, research shows oats can help fill you up, contribute to satiety, and prevent you from over-eating or snacking.
They're a great way for both omnivores and plant-based eaters to add more sustainable protein to meals, which is key for feeling full and energized. Eating enough protein is also important for many reasons, such as maintenance of lean muscle mass and mental health, especially if you're very active.
5. Oats Can Help Balance Blood Sugar
Unlike refined grains and foods with added sugar, unsweetened oats are useful for keeping blood sugar levels steady. Their fiber and protein helps to slow down absorption of carbohydrates, leading to lasting energy without a crash afterwards.
Whole grains including oats also have anti-diabetic effects, meaning they can enhance insulin sensitivity and fight insulin resistance which contributes to type 2 diabetes.
6. Oats are Naturally Gluten-free
While some whole grains including wheat varieties, barley and rye contain the protein called gluten, oats are free of gluten.
Gluten can be hard for some people to digest properly, plus it's a common allergen that can cause serious reactions in people with the rare gluten allergy called Celiac disease.
For those following a gluten-free diet, oats are a great source of both fiber and complex carbs which provide energy. Just be sure to look for gluten-free oats if you strictly avoid gluten, since cross contamination can occur in some processing facilities that manufacture oats and wheat.
Environmental Impact of Oats
Oats are considered a sustainable crop, considering their production does not typically cause damage to land, deforestation, or use of large quantities of water or other resources.
Researchers even consider oats to be valuable in sustainable crop rotation, since they can play a role in soil conservation, crop diversity, and prevention of land erosion and plant diseases.
Organic oats are even better for the environment, since they're not grown without use of pesticides that can take a toll on soil quality.
For the most health benefits, buy oats that are non-GMO and organic, or grown without chemical pesticides.
Versatility of Oats + How To Prepare Them
Because they have a naturally slightly sweet taste and an overall mild flavor, there are tons of ways to prepare and enjoy oats. You'll find oats in different types of oatmeal (such as instant, rolled or steel cut oats), plus mueslis, granolas and cereal bars.
While many granolas and cereals sold in grocery stores contain lots of added sugar, eating low-sugar muesli is a better way to reap the many benefits of oats. Muesli is a traditional breakfast cereal made with nutrient-packed rolled oats, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
You can prepare oats or muesli in some of the following ways:
- Heat them up in the microwave with water or your favorite type of milk.
- Have them cold with milk, just like cereal.
- Combine them with milk and your other favorite toppings in a jar and let them sit overnight in the refrigerator to make "overnight oats."
- Add some to healthy baked goods like muffins, homemade granola bars or quick breads.
- Try some in a smoothie to add more nutrients and fiber.
Depending on your flavor preferences, try one of our GUUD muesli formulas such as Fruity Almond or Coconut Cashew gluten free muesli. All of our mueslis are naturally great tasting, filling and low in sugar, with only 0 to 2 grams of added sugar per serving.