9 Health Benefits of Eating Oats and Oatmeal

Studies show that oats and oatmeal have many health benefits. These include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Oats are among the healthiest grains on earth. They’re a gluten-free whole grain and a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.

Here are 9 evidence-based health benefits of eating oats and oatmeal.

The nutrient composition of oats is well-balanced. They are a good source of carbs and fiber, including the fiber beta-glucan.

Oats are also a good source of high quality protein, with a good balance of essential amino acids.

Oats are loaded with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant plant compounds.

Half a cup (40.5 grams) of dry oats contains:

The nutritional profile of one cup prepared oatmeal (one half cup dry oats with water) also includes:

  • 25/5 grams of carbs
  • 6.5 grams of protein
  • 2.5 grams of fat
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • 151.5 calories

This means that oats are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.

Summary

Oats are rich in carbs and fiber, but also higher in protein and fat than most other grains. They contain many vitamins and minerals.

Whole oats are high in antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols. Most notable is a unique group of antioxidants called avenanthramides, which are almost solely found in oats.

Research has found that avenanthramides may help lower blood pressure levels by increasing the production of nitric oxide gas. This gas molecule helps dilate (widen) blood vessels, which may lead to better blood flow.

In addition, avenanthramides have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects.

Summary

Oats contain many antioxidants, including avenanthramides. These compounds may help reduce blood pressure and have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects.

Oats contain large amounts of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber. Beta-glucan partially dissolves in water and forms a thick, gel-like solution in your gut.

The health benefits of beta-glucan fiber include:

Summary

Oats are high in the soluble fiber beta-glucan, which has numerous benefits. It helps reduce blood glucose levels, promotes healthy gut bacteria, and can regulate type 2 diabetes.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally. One major risk factor is high blood cholesterol.

Many studies have shown that the beta-glucan fiber in oats is effective at reducing both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Beta-glucan may increase the release of cholesterol-rich bile, which reduces the circulating levels of cholesterol in your blood.

Oats may also protect LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation.

Oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol occurs when it reacts with free radicals. This is another crucial step in the progression of heart disease.

LDL cholesterol produces inflammation in arteries, damages tissues, and can raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Summary

Oats may lower the risk of heart disease by reducing both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as by protecting LDL from oxidation.

Not only is oatmeal (porridge) a delicious breakfast food, but it’s also very filling. Eating filling foods may help you eat fewer calories and lose weight.

By delaying the time it takes your stomach to empty of food, the beta-glucan in oatmeal may increase your feeling of fullness.

Beta-glucan may also promote the release of peptide YY (PYY), a hormone produced in the gut in response to eating. This satiety hormone has been shown to lead to reduced calorie intake and may decrease your risk of obesity.

Summary

Oatmeal may help you lose weight by making you feel more full. It does this by slowing down the emptying of the stomach and increasing the production of the satiety hormone PYY.

It’s no coincidence that oats can be found in numerous skin care products. Makers of these products often label finely ground oats as “colloidal oatmeal.”

The FDA approved colloidal oatmeal as a skin-protective substance back in 2003. But oats have a long history of use in the treatment of itch and irritation in various skin conditions.

For example, oat-based skin products may improve uncomfortable symptoms of eczema.

Note that skin care benefits pertain only to oats applied to the skin, not those that are eaten.

Summary

Colloidal oatmeal (finely ground oats) has long been used to help treat dry and itchy skin. It may help relieve symptoms of various skin conditions, including eczema.

Asthma is the most common chronic condition in kids.

It’s an inflammatory disorder of the airways — the tubes that carry air to and from a person’s lungs.

Although not all children have the same symptoms, many experience recurrent coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Research indicates that early introduction of oats, for example, may actually protect children from developing asthma.

But whether oats can help prevent asthma development in children is still debated.

Summary

Some research suggests that oats may help prevent asthma in children when fed to young infants, but more research is still needed.

People of all ages and populations experience constipation. This refers to infrequent, irregular bowel movements that are difficult to pass.

Constipation affects nearly 16 out of 100 adults and about 33 out of 100 adults who are ages 60 and over.

Studies indicate that oat bran, the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain, may help relieve constipation.

Oat bran was also shown to decrease gastrointestinal symptoms and aid digestion in people living with ulcerative colitis (UC).

However, while the soluble fiber in oats is generally effective against constipation, it has been found to be less effective against opioid-induced constipation. This is because it doesn’t affect the movement of the colon that the drugs may suppress.

Summary

Studies indicate that oat bran can help relieve constipation and aid digestion in those living with gastrointestinal conditions like UC.

Is it healthy to eat oats every day?

In one study from 2020, the health of participants with inactive (quiescent) UC who ate oat bran daily for 24 weeks was maintained, and they did not experience their symptoms getting worse. This suggests oats can be consumed every day.

However, since oats are high in fiber, you may notice changes in your stool’s appearance and the frequency at which you poop.

Consuming an excess amount of oats may also lead to decreased nutrient absorption.

What’s the difference between wheat and oats?

The nutrient composition of oats and wheat is different, but both are good sources of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

Minerals you can find in both wheat and oats at similar levels include magnesium, zinc, and iron.

Naked oats are highest in fats, while husked oats are highest in soluble fiber — but not total dietary fiber — compared with the cereal grains barley, rye, triticale, rice, and wheat.

Oats are a nutritious food packed with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In addition, they’re higher in soluble fiber and protein compared to other grains.

Oats have unique components like the soluble fiber beta-glucan and antioxidants called avenanthramides.

Benefits include lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, protection against skin irritation, and reduced constipation.

In addition, they are very filling, can be enjoyed several ways, and have many properties that should make them a food helpful for weight loss.

At the end of the day, oats are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.

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