Super Oats – Just How Healthy Are Oats for Us?

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I am all about super foods! While no ‘scientific’ definition exists for the term, superfoods are real powerhouses which give us the biggest nutritional boost compared to their overall energy. You will find them packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and many known for their disease fighting ability. Avocado, egg, salmon, kale, spinach and blueberries are top of the list!

A quick internet search will also see oats right up there too. While oats are hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and germ allowing them to retain a concentrated source of their fiber and nutrients. However oats are one food I do get asked a lot about –  just how good are they for us? If they are a grain should we be avoiding oats all together? When should I introduce them to my baby? Read on!

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Benefits of Oats

Fibre – Oats are rich in a specific type of fiber called beta-glucan. This particular type of fiber is known to help lower levels of bad cholesterol. One cup of dry oats contains approximately eight grams of fiber (the recommended daily intake of fiber is 25g for women and 38g for men).

Micronutrients – Oats are high in a number of vitamins and minerals including, magnesium, biotin and iron. In addition antioxidant compounds unique to oats, called avenanthramides, can help reduce free radicals damage.

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Breastfeeding – Oats have long been recognised to help increase milk supply, the aforementioned vitamins and minerals are the crucial nutrients involved here. Biotin also helps with the transfer of energy, again which is crucial when it comes to ongoing milk production.

Slow Energy Release – Oats have a low glycemic index (GI) rating which means a very slow release of carbohydrate, avoiding sharp blood sugar spikes and subsequent large insulin release (still some but low). Thus oats will help to keep energy levels consistent throughout the day and prevent cravings!

A Great First Grain

In my previous blog I spoke about my strong recommendation not to start children off on baby rice or infant cereal as they are not physiologically ready for this until about the age of one and their digestive tract has developed for this. Babies will develop at different rates so some maybe ready by 10 months, some not until 14 months.

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When you are ready oats are a great first grain as they are easy on the digestive system, they have no wheat so this is going to reduce the load on the gastrointestinal tract, plus they are have gone through minimal processing. Both my boys are huge fans of porridge and Nairns Oatcakes, which is one of the best packaged products available on the market made from 83% organic wholegrain oats and available at all local supermarkets – you can read my full review here.

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Insulin Resistance

My word of caution when it comes to oats are for those with insulin resistance including certain hormone conditions (like PSOS), type two diabetes and gestational diabetes. Like all grains, oats will still produce an insulin release, and emerging research suggests those with insulin resistance will be more affected but this insulin release more than those without insulin resistance. I talk more about this in my upcoming Beautiful Bump pregnancy programme (wait list here!) and will also cover this in detail in my upcoming workshop on Sugar & Sleep. Currently there is still conflicting information on this as some research shows oats actually can improve insulin resistance. Of all the grains oats are one of the (if not the most) nutrient dense so in the big picture of wellbeing you are still eating a very nutrient rich food. For those that are concerned about their insulin resistance specialised individual advice is important and something I work closely with my one-on-one clients.

Recipe Ideas

It’s hard to go past a warm bowl of porridge and all you need is a sprinkle of cinnamon! I have two great recipes that you can put on top of Nairns Oatcakes and some great snack options below too!

Egg & Avocado Smash

Smash 1

Roasted Pepper Dip

Dip Not Boosted

Warm Apple, Cinnamon & Oat Smoothie

Smushie 1

Simple Muesli Slice

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How do you like your oats? Love to hear your recipes and suggestions!

xxx Dr Julie Bhosale