Super Starts Here.


on September 9, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 12.50.40 PM


Let’s Hear It for Outstanding Oats

I thought it would be a neat idea to showcase some of the great ingredients that are used in MySuperSnack Granola Bites, and what better way to kick off the series than with highlighting one of my favorites – oats.  Since I’ve been a little kid, I have heard time and time again how eating oatmeal is one of the healthiest ways to start your day.  Many heart patients and individuals seeking to lower their cholesterol and add fiber to their diets are encouraged to eat oats daily.  As a health coach, I suggest oats to most of my clients, as I feel they offer so many nutritional benefits – there’s really no reason NOT to utilize this gift from nature.

As parents, we are always seeking ways to feed our families and ourselves quick, easy, and healthy options, and oatmeal has to top the charts for versatility and ease.  Thanks to versions of “quick cooking” oats now available, offering oatmeal in the morning to our families is a great way to get nutritious goodness into everyone while allowing the kids to get creative with what they can add to the oatmeal for flavor – fresh fruit, spices, a pinch of maple syrup or other natural sweetener… not to mention all of the recipes you can make with oatmeal.  From pancakes to breads to cookies – you can make a plethora of great things…even gluten-free options for those sensitive or allergic to wheat, barley, or rye.  We love putting uncooked oatmeal into our Vitamix to add to smoothies in the morning for added energy, fiber, and substance.



Here are some interesting facts about oats (SOURCE: The World’s Healthiest Foods) –

  • Oats (scientific name: Avena sativa) are a hardy cereal grain crop that can withstand poor soil conditions, are harvested in the fall, but can last throughout the year if stored properly.


  • Oats originally came from Asia and slowly migrated to parts of Europe before making their way to the Americas by traders and explorers.  People have been cultivating oats for over two thousand years for food and medicinal purposes.


  • Unlike many other grains, oats do not lose their nutritional power once hulled.  This process does not strip away their bran and germ, thus keeping their high fiber and nutrient content intact.

Amazing Health Benefits of Oats –

  • Oats are great sources of FIBER.  Check out the chart to see how much is packed into a 1 cup serving:


Fiber Content in Grams

Oatmeal, 1 cup 3.98
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 2
Whole wheat spaghetti, 1 cup 6.3
Brown rice, 1 cup 3.5
Barley, 1 cup 13.6
Buckwheat, 1 cup 4.54
Rye, 1/3 cup 8.22
Corn, 1 cup 4.6
Apple, 1 medium with skin 5.0
Banana, 1 medium 4.0
Blueberries, 1 cup 3.92
Orange, 1 large 4.42
Pear, 1 large 5.02
Prunes, 1/4 cup 3.02
Strawberries, 1 cup 3.82
Raspberries, 1 cup 8.36


  • High in nutrients magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese and selenium, oats help us round out our nutritional needs from whole food sources rather than manufactured vitamins.


  • Why is selenium important, in particular?  The selenium present in oats poses as a necessary “cofactor” or helper of the important antioxidant, glutathione peroxidase.  What this means is selenium works with vitamin E in numerous vital antioxidant systems throughout the body, which in turn, make selenium helpful in decreasing asthma symptoms and in the prevention of heart disease. In addition, selenium is involved in DNA repair and is associated with a reduced risk for cancer, especially colon cancer.


  • It’s a low-calorie food that boasts high levels of protein (combined with fiber), which means that it will keep you fuller longer, your body will burn it better over time, and it will help stave off cravings, especially for sweets.  As the soluble fiber of oats is digested, it forms a gel, which causes the “thickness” of the contents of the stomach and small intestine to be increased. The gel delays stomach emptying making you feel full longer which helps with weight maintenance. New research suggests that children between ages 2-18 years old who have a constant intake of oatmeal lowered their risk of obesity. The research found that the children who ate oatmeal were 50% less likely to become overweight, when compared to those children that did not eat it.  This is perfect for starting our young ones off to a healthy start!


  • People eat oats to help LOWER CHOLESTEROL.  According to researchers, “Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan. Since 1963, study after study has proven the beneficial effects of this special fiber on cholesterol levels. Studies show that in individuals with high cholesterol (above 220 mg/dl), consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (an amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%. This is highly significant since each 1% drop in serum cholesterol translates to a 2% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease.”


  • Help ward-off HEART DISEASE with oats!  According to a study conducted at Tufts University and published in The Journal of Nutrition, “Oats, via their high fiber content, are already known to help remove cholesterol from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream. Now, the latest research suggests they may have another cardio-protective mechanism.  Antioxidant compounds unique to oats, called avenanthramides, help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.” 


  • BOOST IMMUNITY with oats! In laboratory studies reported in Surgery, beta-glucan significantly enhanced the human immune system’s response to bacterial infection. Beta-glucan not only helps neutrophils (the most abundant type of non-specific immune cell) navigate to the site of an infection more quickly, it also enhances their ability to eliminate the bacteria they find there.  Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal may boost your immune response in addition to your morning energy levels.


  • BALANCE BLOOD SUGAR AND HELP FIGHT TYPE-2 DIABETES – Studies also show that the aforementioned beta-glucan in oatmeal has beneficial effects in diabetes as well. “Type 2 diabetes patients given foods high in this type of oat fiber or given oatmeal or oat bran rich foods experienced much lower rises in blood sugar compared to those who were given white rice or bread.” Starting out your day with a blood sugar stabilizing food such as oats may make it easier to keep blood sugar levels under control the rest of the day, especially when the rest of your day is also supported with nourishing fiber-rich foods.  Additionally, oats are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including those involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion.


  • OATS CAN HELP CHILDHOOD ASTHMA!  Research conducted by the International Study on Allergy and Asthma in Childhood found that increasing consumption of oats, whole grains, and/or fish could reduce the risk of childhood asthma by about 50%.  With the American Lung Association reporting that almost 20 million Americans suffer from this harrowing respiratory disease, which is reported to be responsible for over 14 million lost school days in children, and an annual economic cost of more than $16.1 billion, I would think families would be thrilled to know that eating oats could help combat this risk.  What about oats that could attribute to this health benefit is the numerous anti-inflammatory compounds found in fish, oats, and whole grains, notably, the omega-3 fats supplied by cold water fish and the magnesium and vitamin E provided by whole grains.


  • Do you need to watch GLUTEN in your home due to a sensitivity or CELIAC’S DISEASE?  While some individuals and healthcare providers will caution to avoid oats if there is a gluten issue, it is becoming more widely accepted and encouraged for CLEAN-SOURCED oats (those NOT prepared in a facility or on machinery that also processes wheat, barley, or rye) to be added to the diet.  Many times, oats are prepared on such “contaminated” machinery, which is why they have been cautioned against, not to mention their close relativity to whole grains.  Oats can also contain gluten from nearby wheat field contamination and processing facilities.


Scientifically speaking in regards to gluten issues, oats lack many of the prolamines (proteins) found in wheat (gluten) that causes reactions in sensitive individuals.  However, oats do contain avenin, which is a prolamine that is considered toxic to the intestinal mucosa of avenin-sensitive individuals, so please use caution if you know you are avenin-sensitive.  Many studies have shown that many celiacs can consume wheat free oats with no problems.

Recent studies of adults have shown that oats, despite the small amount of gluten they contain, are well-tolerated.  Research states that “a double blind, multi-center study involving 8 clinics treating 116 children newly diagnosed celiac disease suggests oats are a good grain choice for children with celiac disease as well. The children were randomly assigned to receive either the standard gluten-free diet (no wheat, barley, rye or oats) or a gluten-free diet with some wheat-free oat products. At the end of the study, which ran for a year, all the children were doing well, and in both groups, the mucosal lining of the small bowel (which is damaged by wheat gluten in celiac disease) had healed and the immune system (which is excessively reactive in celiac patients) had returned to normal.” While this is great news for those whose diets are restricted due to gluten issues, be sure to clarify with your healthcare provider first before deciding to incorporate oats (and careful selection of the “cleanest” type of oats is a must).

Types of Oats to Look Out For:

You may have seen different types of oatmeal or oat products lining the shelves in stores.  Confused by what you see?  Here is a simple break-down of common types of oat products and what they are used for –

  • Oat groats: un-flattened kernels that are good for using as a breakfast cereal or for stuffing.
  • Steel-cut oats: featuring a dense and chewy texture, they are produced by running the grain through steel blades that thinly slices them.  Steel cut oats take longer to cook than traditional oats or quick-cooking oats.
  • Old-fashioned oats: have a flatter shape that is the result of their being steamed and then rolled.
  • Quick-cooking oats: processed like old-fashioned oats, except they are cut finely before rolling allowing them a faster time to prepare.
  • Instant oatmeal: produced by partially cooking the grains and then rolling them very thin. Oftentimes, sugar, salt and other ingredients are added to make the finished product, so be careful when selecting.  I always read the ingredients and sugar content on the package before selecting.
  • Oat bran: the outer layer of the grain that resides under the hull. While oat bran is found in rolled oats and steel-cut oats, it may also be purchased as a separate product that can be added to recipes or cooked to make a hot cereal.
  • Oat flour: used in baking, it is oftentimes combined with wheat or other gluten-containing flours when making leavened bread, cakes, or cookie-type products.
  • If you purchase prepared oatmeal products such as oatmeal, look at the ingredients to ensure that the product does not contain any salt, sugar or other additives.
  • When cooking all types of oats, it is best to add the oats to cold water and then cook at a simmer. The preparation of rolled oats and steel-cut oats require similar proportions using two parts water to one part oats. Rolled oats take approximately 15 minutes to cook while the steel-cut variety takes about 30 minutes.
  • When storing oats, take special caution to ensure their freshness.  It’s recommended to buy small quantities at a time since there is a chance of oats going rancid over time (like ground flax seed) due to its slightly higher fat content than other grains. While buying a container or a box of small packets of oats is readily available, it may be cheaper to buy oats in bulk.  If buying in bulk, make sure that the bins containing the oats are covered, free from debris, and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness.  Smell the oats to make sure that they are fresh. Whether purchasing oats in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture.

Store oatmeal in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place it they will keep for approximately two months.


Oats- Complete Nutrient Listing


1 cup cooked

total weight

234.00 g




%Daily Value


5.94 g



28.08 g


Fat – total

3.56 g


Dietary Fiber

3.98 g








%Daily Value

Total Sugars

0.63 g


0.05 g


0.58 g

Soluble Fiber

2.34 g

Insoluble Fiber

1.64 g

Other Carbohydrates

23.47 g

Monounsaturated Fat

1.02 g


Polyunsaturated Fat

1.31 g


Saturated Fat

0.73 g


Trans Fat

0.00 g

Calories from Fat


Calories from Saturated Fat



0.00 mg



195.65 g




%Daily Value

Water-Soluble Vitamins
B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B1

0.18 mg


Vitamin B2

0.04 mg


Vitamin B3 (Niacin Equivalents)

0.53 mg

Vitamin B6

0.01 mg


Vitamin B12

0.00 mcg



— mcg


17.32 mg



14.04 mcg


Pantothenic Acid

0.73 mg


Vitamin C

0.00 mg


Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A (Retinoids and Carotenoids)
Vitamin A IU

0.00 IU


Vitamin A RAE

0.00 RAE

Retinol RE

0.00 RE

Carotenoid RE

0.00 RE



0.00 mcg

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

421.20 mcg


0.00 mcg

Vitamin D    
Vitamin D IU

— IU

Vitamin D mcg

— mcg

Vitamin E    
Vitamin E Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents

0.19 mg


Vitamin E IU

— IU

Vitamin E mg

— mg

Vitamin K

0.70 mcg





%Daily Value


— mcg


21.06 mg



— mg


— mcg


0.17 mg



0.17 mg



— mcg


2.11 mg



63.18 mg



1.36 mg



— mcg


180.18 mg



163.80 mg



12.64 mcg



166.14 mg



2.34 mg





%Daily Value

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

0.04 g


Omega-6 Fatty Acids

1.27 g




Need Some Creative Ideas and Recipes for Ways to Incorporate Oatmeal?

  • A great way to start your day—add your favorite nuts and fruits to a piping hot bowl of oatmeal.
  • Healthy versions of oatmeal cookies are a favorite for every one of all ages.
  • Add oat flour or whole oats the next time you make bread or muffins.
  • Sprinkle oat bran on your hot or cold cereal.
  • Oat groats make a great basis for stuffing for poultry.
  • You can make your own oat flour!  Simply add oats to a Vitamix or food processor and blend on high until you have a smooth flour.  Be sure to store in an air-tight container.

Here are some great oatmeal recipes already featured on MySuperFoods:




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: