I love me some oats. I can tell the seasons have changed when I find my body craving hot oatmeal (specifically pumpkin oats!) because it is one of my go-to breakfasts in the cooler seasons. This morning as I was glancing through my pantry, I saw so many different types of oats to choose from. I have at least 4 kinds in my pantry (I say at least because my pantry desperately needs to be cleaned out but that’s another story for another day) – old fashioned, scottish, Steel Cut, and Oat Bran.
So I know oats are good for me, but why?
- Lower Cholesterol Levels
- Antioxidants in oats reduce the risk of heart disease
- Whole Grains for breakfast prevent heart failure
- Enhance Immune Response to Infection
- Stabilize Blood Sugar
- Substantially Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk
- Fiber in whole grains protects against Breast Cancer
- Highly Protective against Childhood Asthma
- A Well-tolerated Wheat Alternative for people intolerant of wheat (celiacs)
So what are the different types of oats?
- Oat Groats – The whole oat grain, with only the hard unpalatable outer hull removed, but with the kernel’s outer bran layer left in tact. They are long and thin with a smooth shiny surface and look like brown rice. They can be eaten at this stage, but are typically processed into one of the forms below.
- Scottish Oats – These are made by grinding the oat groats into a meal, which makes porridge type oats with a very creamy texture.
- Steel Cut Oats – These are made by passing groats through steel cutters which chop each one into three or four pieces. Since they still contain the whole grain including the oat bran, steel cut oats are very nutritious.
- Rolled Oats – These are made by steaming groats and flattening them with a roller. Old fashioned oats are made by first steaming the whole groat for a few minutes, thus partially cooking it, then passing it between rollers to flatten it out. Quick-cooking rolled oats are made by putting steel-cut oats through the same process.
- Instant Oats – These made in a similar fashion to rolled quick-cooking oats, except they are steamed longer and rolled more thinly. It produces the kind of oats used for making some types of ‘instant’ porridge. Generally the more you process a food the less nutritious it becomes, instant oats are best avoided if you want to get the full benefit of this grain.
- 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.
So what kind of oats should you eat?
It really depends on your taste preferences and how much time you have to prepare them in the morning. Lately, I have been loving Scottish Oats because they cook in just 5 minutes and make a really creamy bowl of oats with just using water. I also love steel cut oats, but those generally take around 30 minutes to cook which is time I generally don’t have in the morning. While instant oats are better than no oats, you should generally try to have less processed oats (basically any other kind on the above list) for the healthiest option, but instant oats can be good in a pinch.
So what did I have for breakfast today?
In the mix:
- 1/4 cup Scottish Oats
- 1 cup water
- ~1/2 canned pumpkin
- 1 packet Truvia
- 1/2 banana, sliced
- homemade granola
Are you a fan of oatmeal for breakfast? What are your favorite kinds of oats? What about your favorite way to top them?