Boxed breakfast cereals ruled the morning food scene for decades with their rainbow colors, addictive flavors, catchy names, and—let’s face it—unbeatable convenience. When these foods became the norm, the previous breakfast champions, like cooked oatmeal or cream of wheat, went out of fashion.
But just like fashion itself, trends always make a comeback, and oatmeal is back with a vengeance. Many people mistake this porridge as being bland, but oatmeal is just the base to be dressed up however you please. A quick perusal of oatmeal on Instagram shows bowls decked out with bright strawberry slices, globs of nut butters, piles of freshly toasted coconut shreds, and even melting bits of dark chocolate.
Oatmeal aficionados will rave about how fun and tasty it is, but the objective truth is that this warm and cozy breakfast option is also really good for you. Here are the five health perks you’ll enjoy from your morning oats.
1. Oatmeal may help manage your weight.
No, eating oatmeal doesn’t automatically make you shed extra pounds, but the high-fiber content in the hearty oat helps keep you full longer. The oats digest slowly, so you’ll be less likely to graze on snacks all morning. This can help you save on calories throughout the rest of the day.
Adding a source of protein to your oats, such as an egg or spoonful of peanut butter, can help keep you full even longer. Here are other ways to eat more protein at breakfast.
2. Oatmeal is good for blood sugar management.
Fiber not only keeps you full, but it also reduces blood sugar spikes. Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can only eat eggs for breakfast, but to keep your blood sugar balanced it’s important to choose complex carbs instead of simple carbs whenever possible.
Many of America’s favorite breakfast foods—pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and bagels—are simple carbs that are low in fiber. Oats, on the other hand, are a complex carb, and one half-cup serving of oats contain four fabulous grams of fiber. That makes oatmeal a healthy grain choice to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes. Learn more about fiber’s role in diabetes management here.
3. Oatmeal supports a healthy heart.
Oats are virtually free of saturated fat, which is the type that can raise LDL cholesterol in the blood and lead to plaque buildup in the arteries. But also, the soluble fiber found in oats helps reduce those LDL cholesterol levels. Here are other diet rules to lower cholesterol.
For a healthy ticker, the American Heart Association recommends getting about 25 grams of fiber daily on a 2,000 calorie diet—and to make at least half of those grains whole grains (like oats).
4. Oatmeal is a good source of many important nutrients.
Check out this impressive list of oat’s nutrient offerings:
5 grams of protein
1.7 grams of iron
147 milligrams of potassium
13 micrograms of folate
166 milligrams of phosphorus
56 milligrams of magnesium
and 1.5 milligrams of zinc.
And the best part is that all those perks fit in a 150-calorie package. Sorry, but you won’t get that from the croissant you picked up at the coffee shop on the way to work.
5. Oatmeal is an easy way to sneak in a dairy serving.
When you cook up your oats with a cup of low-fat milk or soy milk, you’re getting an added boost of calcium, protein, and vitamin D. Plus, your porridge will be wayyy creamier and have more flavor than if you had cooked it with just water. Here are more ways to eat more dairy without even trying.
And adding dairy (or dairy alternatives) is just the start. When you dress up your oatmeal with fruits, nuts, and seeds, you’re getting all the perks of those foods, too. A banana will pump up the potassium and fiber content, almonds will boost the protein, and chia seeds will get you those essential omega-3 fatty acids.
It can easily become high in calories if you douse your oatmeal with everything in your pantry, so pick a couple ingredients and measure out appropriate servings. And don’t forget to add tons of low-cal flavor with extracts and spices, which can help you cut down on added sugars.