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Everything you need to know about a healthy diet with oatmeal

January 21, 2020
  • Breakfast
  • Gesund leben
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Nutrition
Everything you need to know about a healthy diet with oatmeal

As the main ingredient of muesli or porridge, oat flakes have become an indispensable part of many breakfast tables. They are also an important component in sports nutrition, for example in muesli bars. Oat flakes are considered as a superfood and because they don’t have to be transported halfway around the world, they are more sustainable than other so-called superfoods, such as the exotic chia seeds, goji berries and acai.

But while it is quite clear that oat flakes have no exotic origin and have been used as food for centuries in our latitudes, the question remains: What exactly is oatmeal and where does it come from?

What are oat flakes?

As a cereal product, oat flakes belong to the staple foods, which in addition to cereals also include tubers, legumes and fruits. Since they are obtained from the whole grain of seed oats, they are also considered whole grains.

During production, the outer layers as well as the inedible parts of the oats are removed and what remains is a high-quality kernel with a high proportion of carbohydrates, protein, unsaturated fatty acids and soluble fibre. This makes oatmeal particularly suitable for a healthy start to the day and as a nutritious alternative to a snack between meals.

Incidentally, oat bran is obtained from the outer layers of the oats, which differs from the oat flakes in appearance and properties.

Where does oatmeal come from?

As the name already suggests, oat flakes are made from oats.

For this purpose, the raw grain is mechanically “freed” from straw, any inedible elements and the so-called husks, a kind of protective skin, before it is treated with steam and then with dry heat.

The dry heat in the production process is important for a typical nutty flavour. It inhibits the activity of certain enzymes, which could lead to a bitter taste if the oat flakes are stored for a long time.

The oat flakes finally get their typical shape when the oat kernels are flattened between two rollers. There are different types of oat flakes, which differ depending on the production process. Large leaf flakes, such as those found in muesli, are made from the whole grain, while small leaf flakes are made from oats that have already been crushed and swell more quickly if you soak them – but they should not be confused with oat bran obtained from the outer layers.

Is oatmeal healthy?

Due to the gentle production process, almost all nutrients are retained in the oat flakes. This is why they are a healthy basis for muesli, porridge and other dishes like granola bars or overnight oats.

Furthermore, oatmeal is gluten-free and vegan and is characterised by its simple preparation, which makes it an ideal component of various nutritional plans and diets – incidentally also for people who suffer from allergies.

In addition to a high nutritional value and quick satiation, oat flakes are healthy because of these other scientifically proven advantages:

  • Oat flakes are good for the stomach and intestines and support digestion
  • Oatmeal lowers the blood sugar level
  • Oatmeal helps to lower cholesterol levels
  • The copper and vitamin B contained in oat flakes ensure healthy hair and nails (as part of skin care products they can also contribute to a healthy and clean skin)

Oatmeal as sports nutrition

Due to their balanced distribution of nutrients, oat flakes are ideal as food for breakfast. Thanks to their high nutritional value, oat flakes are also an ideal sports food. They supply the body with high-quality vitamins and important minerals, while having a high saturation effect.

This means that even small amounts of oat flakes – whether in muesli, as porridge or in a bar – are sufficient to create a feeling of satiety that lasts for a long time without activating fat depositing thanks to the complex carbohydrates. The way in which you should prepare oatmeal before or during exercise depends primarily on how much time elapses between eating and exercising.

Oat flakes are one of the long chain carbohydrates that are ideal if you have a few hours to digest before exercise. Then dishes with a high proportion of oat flakes, such as our porridges, are a good idea.

If it has to go faster, then short-chain carbohydrates, for example sugar (dextrose as well as household sugar) are more suitable. After sport the body needs carbohydrates and protein again.

Do oat flakes help you to lose weight?

When you eat oatmeal for breakfast, you supply your body with high-quality energy right at the beginning of the day. As they lead to a quick feeling of satiety thanks to their long-chain carbohydrates and a multitude of fibres and also boost fat burning, oatmeal is definitely suitable if you want to lose weight.

However, it always depends on how consistently the diet is followed and how much you pay attention to certain basic rules, which can be applied to all diets.

A diet that is too one-sided can lead to a nutrient deficiency – you should therefore not only eat oat flakes dishes prepared differently during a diet. But you can prevent ravenous appetite attacks quite effectively with oatmeal, even if you “only” integrate it into your normal diet.

For example, oatmeal is an ideal substitute for a snack or a little treat in between. If that is not enough for you, then there is the so-called oat diet, which you can read about in detail in our blog post “Losing weight with the oat diet – is that possible”?

How many calories does oatmeal have and what are the general nutritional values?

What is the difference between oatmeal and oat bran?

While oat flakes are the flat-rolled kernels obtained from the raw grain, oat bran is produced from the outer layers of the grain and the germ, which are crushed for this purpose.

Although the outer layers and germ only make up around 30 percent of the total oat grain, around 85 percent of the vitamins, 80 percent of the minerals, 60 percent of the protein and 85 percent of the important fibre are concentrated here – The latter are particularly good for maintaining a healthy intestinal flora. Oat bran differs from oat flakes not only in the extraction process and appearance, but also in taste and nutritional value.

What the flakes and bran have in common is that they are considered healthy superfood and can be processed in a variety of ways, whether as porridge, in muesli or as an ingredient in bread or sports bars. You can include oat bran in your diet just as much as oatmeal, but here too it is important to do it with moderation and not to neglect a balanced diet.

If you would like to try oat bran as an alternative to oatmeal for breakfast, you can try this recipe for example: chocolate banana pudding with avocado.


Preparing porridge correctly

Soaking oat flakes

Oat flakes are just as easily digestible when dry as when soaked in water or milk. Soaking not only changes the consistency but also reduces the phytin content. As this acid binds minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, the body is deprived of these nutrients.

A reduced phytin content can be achieved after only 30 minutes of soaking and allows a better absorption of important nutrients. Above all, raw food lovers should bear this in mind, as otherwise the body may be permanently deprived of important nutrients due to the relatively one-sided nutrition with nuts and legumes.

Apart from that, it is basically entirely up to your taste whether and how long you soak oat flakes before preparation and whether you use water or milk, whether cow’s, soy, almond or coconut milk.

Cooking oat flakes

In contrast to soaking, cooking oat flakes has no influence on the phytin content.Oats for muesli or as overnight oats are not cooked. Heating is only necessary if you like to eat porridge. For this, it is up to your preferences whether you use water or milk.

Porridge for breakfast

Oat flakes not only stand out because they have a long shelf life and can be prepared quickly and easily. You can mix them with other ingredients to make your own individual muesli or, if that’s too much trouble for you, you can buy ready-made muesli varieties. There is a whole range of recipes that you can prepare yourself at home.

Like muesli, granola consists of oat flakes and various other ingredients. Unlike muesli, however, granola flakes are roasted with honey or raw sugar until they are brown and crunchy. Granola is often made into bars, but when mixed with milk it also tastes great for breakfast.

Even those who have developed a taste for porridge can choose between sweet or salty and between water and milk. Just like the classic muesli, porridge is versatile and knows almost no limits when it comes to its preparation.

If you don’t feel like preparing breakfast in the morning (even if it’s as quick and easy as muesli or porridge), then Overnight Oats might be the right alternative for you. As the name suggests, the oatmeal is soaked overnight with other ingredients and you only need to reach into the fridge in the morning.

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