Many people have heard that oatmeal can be a great addition to a healthy diet. It’s low-fat, high-fiber, and can help lower cholesterol. I'm an oatmeal lover! It can be so warming, comforting, and filling, making it a great breakfast choice, especially on chilling mornings. But there are so many different types that it can be hard to decipher and choose.
Even though all the different types comes from the same grain, there is a difference between the whole version of oats (called steel cut oats, oat groats, or Irish oatmeal), old-fashioned oats, quick-cooking oats, and the instant packets of oatmeal (which are listed in order of how healthy they are for you). Oats in their whole form are full of both insoluble and soluble fiber, so you'll stay satisfied longer and your digestive system will operate more optimally. It also helps reduce LDL (the "bad") cholesterol. Not to mention, it keeps your blood sugar levels stable, helping you to avoid that energy and mood crash mid-morning and to avoid reaching for a quick form of energy in a candy bar or soda.
The instant packets almost always have added ingredients; even the unsweetened versions sometimes contain added salt. Not to mention the flavored varieties will contain added sugar, natural and artificial flavors, and sometimes preservatives. Now it's not such a health food, anymore!
If you're considering the quick-cooking or old-fashioned varieties, consider this: In order to cut down on cooking time, manufacturers take whole oats and refine them by cutting and smashing the oat, essentially reducing surface area. Now not only will it take a shorter time to cook, it will also take a shorter time making its way through your digestive system. The faster a food moves through your digestive tract, the more uneven your blood sugar may become and the sooner you will be hungry again. This messes with mood and weight management!
If you're concerned about time in the morning, the solution is to make a big batch of steel-cut oats over the weekend when you have more time. It might take 30 minutes but it will last in your fridge for up to 10 days, so you can make enough for breakfast all week! Then, simply top with milk, nuts/seeds, fruit, and maybe a dash of cinnamon, and you're good to go!