Should I Eat Oatmeal Everyday? Not all products work the same for everybody, but oatmeal is one food that most people could benefit from. Research has shown that oatmeal can help to lower cholesterol levels, improve heart health, and even fight asthma. Oatmeal is also a whole grain food which means it provides a variety of nutrients including fiber and protein.
Oatmeal nutritional content
Is oatmeal safe to eat for everyone?
Oatmeal is likely safe for most people, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, when consumed as food. However, it may cause gas and bloating in some. Hence, instead of eating a cup or bowl of oatmeal, start with a quarter cup and increase slowly to the intended amount. This is a good technique to minimize digestion problems and help the body adjust to oats.
The possible contamination of oats with gluten-containing whole grains, such as wheat, rye, or barley, makes oats an unsafe option for people with celiac disease. However, if you have the condition but are symptom-free for at least six months, you can eat moderate amounts of pure, non-contaminated oats bought from a trusted manufacturer.
When You Eat Oats Every Day, This Is What Happens To You
Having oats for breakfast every day isn’t an uncommon choice for most folks. In fact, the results of a 2016 study suggest that about six percent of Americans regularly eat oatmeal. Whether you eat it plain or pile on the mix-ins, cook it on the stove, zap it in the microwave, or prepare it the night before and stick it in the fridge, there are endless ways to enjoy this humble breakfast food. And, to the confusion of many consumers, it seems like there’s an equally endless variety of oats to choose from.
According to the Oldways Whole Grains Council, the different types of oats correspond to different levels of processing. Oat groats, for instance, are the dehulled whole grain and take the longest to cook. Oat groats cut several times with a metal blade creates steel-cut oats. Scottish oatmeal is a stone-ground alternative to steel-cut oats. Old-fashioned rolled oats are made from steaming and rolling oat groats into flakes. This makes them more shelf-stable and faster-cooking. Instant oats are steamed longer and/or rolled into thinner flakes. These oats have a smoother texture than other varieties.
Oats are extremely healthy, but they do have some downsides. If oats are one of your breakfast staples, keep an eye out for these changes in your body.
You could lower your cholesterol
We usually think about staying regular when we think about the benefits of fiber. But not all fiber is the same. Per Medical News Today, insoluble fiber doesn’t break down as it travels through our digestive system. This type of fiber bulks up stool and helps fight constipation. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, turns into a gel-like substance as it moves through our intestines. It slows the digestion and absorption of certain nutrients. This can have numerous health benefits, including lowering cholesterol. Soluble fiber binds to LDL (“bad”) cholesterol molecules in the intestines, “preventing them from entering your bloodstream”.
About half the fiber in oats is soluble. In particular, oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which has gained attention from health professionals for its cholesterol-lowering abilities. In one meta-analysis, published in 2014, researchers examined previously published studies to determine the effect of oat beta-glucan on cholesterol levels. They found that when individuals consumed at least three grams of oat beta-glucan a day, LDL cholesterol decreased by an average of 4.5 mg/dL, while total cholesterol was reduced by an average of 5.4 mg/dL.
You’ll keep your blood sugar levels under control
The soluble beta-glucan fiber in oats may also prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes and improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin. According to Healthline, the glycemic index (GI) measures how much a food raises blood sugar. Pure glucose is used as a reference point, with a value of 100. Anything 55 and below is considered a low-glycemic food and won’t cause a substantial or quick rise in blood sugar, while foods with a GI of 56–69 are medium-glycemic, and those above 70 are high-glycemic. Rolled oats score a 55.
A 2014 paper published in The British Journal of Nutrition found that the beta-glucan in oats may also improve how well the body uses insulin. Researchers found that individuals who consumed oats had a fasting insulin level significantly lower than the control group. Fasting glucose levels and hemoglobin A1C (a long-term marker for blood sugar issues) also improved, though not significantly. Per Springer Link, fasting insulin levels are used to gauge insulin sensitivity. High fasting insulin values are found in those developing type 2 diabetes. The pancreas is producing larger than normal amounts of insulin to compensate for the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently.
You’ll be doing your friendly gut bacteria a favor
Although their soluble beta-glucan fiber gets a lot of attention (and rightfully so), oats also provide another important but undigestible nutrient: resistant starch. According to Clean Eating magazine, resistant starch “is a type of fermentable fiber” that has properties of both insoluble and soluble fiber. It passes undigested from the small intestine to the large intestine, but once there it becomes food for the beneficial bacteria that live in our colon. The bacteria produce butyric acid as they metabolize the resistant starch, and the cells lining our colon use this butyric acid as their main energy source. So the resistant starch provides food for our gut bacteria, which in turn provides the fuel our intestinal cells need to function properly.
In addition to oats, resistant starch is present in foods like potatoes, lentils, and unripe bananas. Per Healthline, a 3.5-ounce serving of oats contains approximately 3.6 grams of resistant starch. Interestingly, cooking and then cooling foods increases their resistant starch content. So you may want to consider making a big batch of oatmeal at the beginning of the week, storing leftovers in the fridge, and reheating your breakfast each morning.
You’ll build strong muscles
If you’re looking for a protein-packed breakfast, oatmeal’s got you covered. A 3.5-ounce serving of oats contains 16.9 grams of protein. And, according to a paper published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, “oats … are distinct among cereals due to their considerably higher protein concentration. At the same time oats possess a protein quality of high nutritional value and a special protein composition.” The majority of the proteins found in oats are from the globulin family, which are more bioavailable than the prolamin group of proteins found in large amounts in other grains. In fact, the protein makeup of oats resembles that of legumes.
We all know protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle, but it serves many other important functions as well. In an interview with Harvard Medical School, registered dietitian Nancy Rodriguez explained that protein is vital for making “hair, blood, connective tissue, antibodies, [and] enzymes.” The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is expressed as a formula: 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. But Rodriguez and many other health professionals suggest that getting up to twice the RDA is a “safe and good range to aim for.”
You’ll feel full longer
You may be able to skip your mid-morning snack if you regularly eat oats for breakfast. That’s because oats are incredibly filling. In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers gave participants 240-calorie servings of 38 common foods and then tracked how satiated individuals felt. The researchers ranked the foods, using white bread as a reference point. Oatmeal came in third and was calculated to be 209 percent more filling than white bread. In another study published in 2013, researchers compared oatmeal to a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. They found that, compared to the cereal eaters, participants who consumed oatmeal felt fuller, had greater reduction in hunger later on, and a lower desire to eat for up to four hours after consuming oats.
Side Effects of Eating Oatmeal, Say Dietitians
Is oatmeal really that healthy of a breakfast? We asked the experts
It feels like everyone is singing the praises of oatmeal lately. It can do wonders for your body, can help you live longer, and overall tastes delicious—especially when you make this peanut butter overnight oat recipe. But are all of the side effects of eating oatmeal actually positive? Are there negative side effects we should know about?
We turned to a few registered dietitians and doctors to learn the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to oatmeal. And no surprise—the side effects of eating oatmeal is mostly good. Here’s what our experts had to say, and for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out Eating Habits to Lose Abdominal Fat As You Age, Say Dietitians.
It’s a great source of fiber.
“Oatmeal is one of the healthiest breakfast choices you can make, namely because oats are a great source of fiber,” says Brenda Braslow, MS, RD for MyNetDiary. “One cup of cooked old-fashioned oats offers 10 grams fiber and it’s mainly soluble fiber, which is the type of fiber that has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood sugar. Old-fashioned oatmeal helps keep your digestive system functioning well and fiber is also great for keeping you satisfied longer and can therefore help with weight management and loss.”
“Oats also offer a decent amount of protein with just one cup of cooked old-fashioned oats containing approximately 10 grams of protein,” says Braslow. “Protein, along with fiber, can keep you full longer. Oatmeal is a nutrient-dense food, offering other vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, and magnesium.”
It may cause some belly bloat.
“If you are new to oats, they may cause bloating so it’s best to start with a small portion,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim.
“Whole grains such as wheat and oats contain high fiber, glucose, and starch,” says Shannon Henry, RD for EZCare Clinic. “All of them are consumed by bacteria in the gut or large intestine which leads to gas and bloating in a few people. To lessen the side effects, start with a small quantity and increase gradually to the chosen amount. When you will start eating oat bran, the harmful outcomes from your body will probably disappear.”
It can cause weight gain if you’re not careful.
“Finally, eating a jumbo serving of oatmeal can lead to weight gain,” says Young. “And watch the toppings—a tablespoon or two of crushed walnuts or flaxseeds is great but too much butter or sugar isn’t.”
“People typically want their oatmeal to be sweeter so as not to eat a boring meal,” says Dr. Gan Eng Cern. “They achieve this by adding sugar, chocolate chips, and other sweet food items which ultimately decreases oatmeal’s overall nutritional value as these additions throw in extra calories, fat, sugar, carbs.”
But it can also help you lose weight—if prepared properly!
“Oatmeal’s fiber and nutrients have also been connected with weight loss. These characteristics keep the consumer feeling full which can prevent overeating on calories throughout the day,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements. “It is easy to add antioxidant-rich ingredients into your diet when you eat oatmeal regularly. Dried fruit, nuts and seeds, and nut butters are rich in micronutrients that support most health and wellness goals.”
It can help you to feel full.
“Oatmeal is a whole grain that is high in fiber, especially soluble fiber,” says Emily Danckers, MS, RD. “When you eat soluble fiber, your digestion is slowed down which can also increase feelings of fullness.”
“Consistently eating a high fiber breakfast food like oatmeal, especially when pairing it with a protein and/or fat like some nuts, often keeps people full for hours,” says Rachel Paul, PhD, RD, CDN. “They can then concentrate on their work and other items, before thinking about the next meal. Having a go-to, filling breakfast option like oatmeal creates consistency in one’s life.”
It can decrease your LDL “bad” cholesterol.
“By eating oatmeal every day, you can lower your total cholesterol level, reduce the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, and increase your ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels,” says Megan Byrd, RD. Byrd recommends even adding oatmeal into your treats, like her favored Oatmeal Protein Cookies recipe.
It can help you in the bathroom.
“Oatmeal’s fiber content contributes to positive gastrointestinal health, including having regular bowel movements,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, and author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook. “It’s important to increase your fluid intake as you increase your daily fiber intake.”
It can control your blood sugar levels.
“Eating oatmeal every day can also help control your blood sugar because it’s so high in that fiber,” says Byrd. “It helps to slow down the speed at which the carbohydrates in your diet reach your bloodstream, making your blood sugar levels more even during the day. Oatmeal really is a superfood, and one that definitely can be eaten every day!”
It’s great for your heart health.
“Oats are an ingredient that has been in the heart-health spotlight for a while,” says Mackenzie Burgess, registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices. “Research continues to show cholesterol-lowering effects from regularly consuming this fiber-rich food. More specifically, the soluble fiber in oatmeal may help reduce our LDL-cholesterol. Try mixing up your typical oats routine and soak them overnight with different flavor additions or combine them into easy energy bites.”