Sharon is a human resources professional who enjoys sharing simple recipes that make mealtime deliciously easy!
Is Oatmeal Healthy?
Oatmeal has always been considered a healthy food—but is it? There are many different types of oats, and not all are alike in terms of nutrition. Of all the types, the steel-cut variety contains the most nutrients and is the best choice for your health. Read on to find out why.
Why Are Steel Cut Oats the Most Nutritious?
Rolled, instant, and quick oats may be more convenient to prepare, but they also undergo more processing. Processing reduces the nutritional values of the oats. Steel-cut oats are the closest to their natural state, so they maintain significantly more nutrients.
Why Eat Oatmeal?
Cooking oats for breakfast is a tradition that goes back many generations. Breakfast is generally considered the most important meal of the day because it is the first meal after breaking your "fast." If we start the day with a coffee and a muffin we have only succeeded in elevating our blood sugar levels, and this is a recipe for weight gain and poor health. This habit may also lead to diseases such as diabetes.
Maintaining blood sugar levels consistently throughout the day is important in achieving a healthy body weight. A low sugar breakfast is the best way to nourish the body by providing the fuel we need to begin an active day. The body needs food that is going to satisfy our hunger and keep us feeling full until lunch or last least until a mid-morning snack. Steel-cut oats, in particular, are an excellent choice that fulfills this nutritional requirement.
Oatmeal and Nutrition
There is no question that oatmeal is a healthy food as long as you are avoiding the highly processed instant version. It has been proven to be beneficial to our health in these ways:
- Lowers blood sugar levels and may help protect against diabetes
- Protects the heart and may help protect against cardiac disease
- Helps to controls blood pressure and keep it within normal ranges
- Aids in weight loss
A diet that includes oats will contribute significantly to your cardiovascular health and prevent the development of diabetes that is so common in North America today. It is a good idea to think about adding oatmeal as a staple in your diet.
Bob's Red Mill is a well known organic brand of steel-cut oats. It is available in most stores that have a health food section, or you can order it online.
What Are the Different Types of Oatmeal?
- Steel-cut oats are made when the groat is chopped up with a steel blade knife. This is only one level of processing, therefore the least processed type of oat and the most nutritious. Oatmeal is made from the "groat" or the grain of the oat which makes it a whole grain food. They are also known as Irish oats as they are commonly prepared in Ireland for use in porridge.
- Rolled oats are steamed and rolled and flattened. That is three levels of processing. These are more common in England and thus became the more common oatmeal in North America. Prepared oatmeal is generally known as porridge in the UK.
- Instant oats are processed even further in order to make them instant so this makes them the least nutritious as there are more than three levels of processing. These oats are a more recent addition to the market in order to accommodate our busier lifestyles.
The Taste of Oats: Just Add Berries
Steel-cut oatmeal is the most flavorful because they have undergone the least amount of change and therefore retain their natural flavor. The flavor is slightly nutty.
In spite of this nutty flavor, oatmeal can be pretty bland and unappetizing on its own—so brown sugar or syrup is often added as a topping. Adding this sugar topping changes the nutrition as it now becomes a high-glycemic food. The best way to eat steel-cut oats is with fruit if you desire sweetness.
One of the easiest and healthiest fruits to add is blueberries. Topping the oatmeal with lots of blueberries and having a blueberry in every bite adds that sweetness that we crave and makes the oatmeal more enjoyable. If you don't care for blueberries try strawberries, raspberries or any berry for that matter. When using strawberries try cutting them up into tiny chunks so you have a little sweetness in every bite.
Quick Oats Recipe
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup steel-cut oats
- 1 cup blueberries or berry of choice
- Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan
- Add the steel-cut oats and reduce heat to medium
- Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until desired consistency (longer will produce a dryer oatmeal)
- Remove from heat, put in your favorite bowl and add as much fruit as you like!
- For more than one serving just double or triple the amounts. For four people the ratio is one cup oats to 4 cups water.
Let's Add Cinnamon and Almonds
Cinnamon Is a Super Food
Cinnamon is becoming known for its healthy properties. Research has shown that it is instrumental in keeping your blood sugar in check.There is some speculation that it may even lower blood sugar levels but more investigation is needed to confirm this finding.
This makes cinnamon the perfect partner for a low-glycemic breakfast. Cinnamon has many other benefits and one study demonstrates that it plays a role in preventing the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Almonds Are Super Healthy, Too!
Almonds are also a low-glycemic food that lowers that troublesome blood sugar. Although almonds are high in fat, studies have proven that those who eat them frequently are actually thinner than the average population who rarely consume nuts.
Other benefits include keeping bones and teeth healthy, protecting your arteries and supporting brain activity which is also preventative of Alzheimer's and similar to cinnamon. So put these foods together and you have an incredibly nutritious breakfast.
Cinnamon Oats With Almonds Recipe
- Prepared oatmeal (recipe is above)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped almonds
- Prepare the oats as in the recipe above.
- At about the halfway mark of cooking, add the chopped almonds.
- Sprinkle with the cinnamon to taste.
- Mix it up well.
- Continue cooking for the remaining time.
It's super healthy and tastes good, too!
Overnight Steel-Cut Oats Recipe
How would you like your breakfast all ready to go first thing in the morning? This super easy recipe for steel-cut oatmeal is perfect and serves four—great for the whole family.
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup steel-cut oatmeal
- Pinch of salt
- A large saucepan
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
- Add a pinch of salt to the boiling water.
- Add the steel-cut oats.
- Cook oats for 1 minute.
If the oats rise up too much in the pot, give it a stir or turn the heat down slightly. Turn the heat off when the minute is up and leave it in the pot covered overnight.
In the morning, turn on the heat to medium and give them a stir to heat through.
That's all there is to it, now add your favorite fruit, some cinnamon whatever you like!
More Oat Recipes: Online Resources
- Perfect Steel-Cut Oats - Cookie and Kate
Learn how to make the most delicious steel-cut oats here! These oats are ready in under 40 minutes and reheat beautifully. Find topping suggestions, too.
- Steel Cut Oat Porridge Recipe
Here is a recipe for some sweet porridge, a decadent recipe.
Steel-Cut Oats and You...
- Steel Cut Oats vs Rolled Oats — Nuts.com
We’re all familiar with classic rolled oats, but many are less familiar with the steel cut variety. What exactly sets these oats apart? Learn more here!
Steel-cut oats are little chewier and have nuttier flavor than traditional oats, but pack the same nutritious goodness, including low in calories and high in fiber.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Sharon Bellissimo
How About Steel Cut Oats for Breakfast?
Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on April 16, 2020:
Thank you I am happy you found it informative.
Prateek Jain from Madhya Pradesh, India on April 08, 2020:
Hi there I found this article very interesting and wonderful. Also, i came to know so much about oats and its benefits. Thank you for sharing this valuable information with us. I also share this article with my foodie friend who like to cook new and delicious meals.
Sehar Nadeem from Stoke On Trent on December 04, 2019:
Nice detail article. I love oats in breakfast.
John Dove on April 15, 2019:
Hi Sharon-- I too am a big steel cut oats fan. We eat a delicious dish made with steel cut oats and other nutritious ingredients every morning. I have drafted a Hub describing this dish in detail. Look for it soon! All the best!
Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on October 15, 2018:
Thank you, they are as nutritious as delicious!
Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on October 11, 2018:
I love my steel cut oats. Your recipes sound great, they are calling out for me to try them.
Takkhis on February 11, 2013:
It is one of my favorite dishes for breakfast.
techmom on February 09, 2013:
My kids love oatmeal. And they prefer it from scratch, not those premade mixes. :)
Linda Jo Martin from Post Falls, Idaho, USA on December 29, 2012:
Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts. I like to add date sugar and coconut milk.
writerkath on December 06, 2012:
Yummmmm! Especially on a winter morning!
victoriuh on August 05, 2012:
I love blueberries in my oatmeal too. Great lens! Blessed.
Katie Harp on July 02, 2012:
blessed by a squid angel! :) <3
hartworks lm on June 29, 2012:
My husband cooks a brunch that carries this one further. He puts organic oat groats in a small slow cooker first thing, and they are done by around 11. Yummy!
Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on June 22, 2012:
@anonymous: yes, so true old fashioned or steel cut are the best for you and the most taste
anonymous on June 22, 2012:
I've wondered what the difference was with steel cut oats, can't say that I've had it but would agree that the more oatmeal is processed, the more taste it looses. I usually buy old fashioned oatmeal but made a mistake and bought the minute variety for a big drop in taste that I'm having trouble getting through, maybe for cookies.
Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on June 20, 2012:
@anonymous: Yes! I have to agree, that's what I eat in the morning too.
anonymous on June 20, 2012:
I have oatmeal almost every morning. Sometimes regular and sometimes steel cut. Both are great with fruit
Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on June 20, 2012:
@ismeedee: We still call it porridge here sometimes too, I make one serving quite quickly in the morning, easy!
ismeedee on June 20, 2012:
We have oatmeal (you probably know it's called porridge in UK) often. My son said I make the best and I always use organic steel cut oats! I've heard some people say they don't have time to make it, but I organise my time carefully and we always manage to get to school on time even if I make oatmeal!
Mamabyrd from West Texas on June 19, 2012:
We rectently started adding oatmeal to our smoothies!