- Studies show that eating oatmeal may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The soluble fiber in oats helps remove LDL or "bad" cholesterol, while maintaining the good cholesterol that your body needs.
- The soluble fiber in oatmeal absorbs a considerable amount of water which significantly slows down your digestive process. This result is that you'll feel full longer, oatmeal can help you control your weight.
- New research suggests that eating oatmeal may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. In fact, the American Diabetes Association already recommends that people with diabetes eat grains like oats. The soluble fiber in these foods help to control blood glucose levels.
- With the exception of certain flavored varieties, the oats found in your grocery store are 100% natural. If you look at the ingredients on a canister of rolled oats, you will usually see only one ingredient... rolled oats.
- According to recent studies, a diet that includes oatmeal may help reduce high blood pressure. The reduction is linked to the increase in soluble fiber provided by oatmeal. Oats contain more soluble fiber than whole wheat, rice or corn.
- Oatmeal contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and is a good source of protein, complex carbohydrates and iron.
- The fiber and other nutrients found in oatmeal may actually reduce the risk for certain cancers.
Steel-cut oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only two or three pieces by steel rather than being rolled. They are golden in color and resemble small rice pieces. This form of oats takes longer to prepare than instant or rolled oats due to its minimal processing, typically 15-30 minutes to simmer (much less if pre-soaked). Due to the minimal processing it has been said that Steel Cut Oats retain more of their nutritional value than do Rolled Oats. The flavor of the cooked product is described as being chewier and nuttier than instant oats. Steel-cut oats may have a lower glycemic index than instant oatmeal causing a lesser spike in insulin levels when consumed. The cause of this is believed to be a higher proportion of complex carbohydrate (more fiber).
Old Fashion Oatmeal is also made from whole grain groats, which are then cut, heated and flattened to create flakes. This minimal processing makes a softer oatmeal that is quicker to cook than the steel cut oats.
Quick Oats made from whole grain groats require more processing still, the groats are cut into smaller pieces and rolled into thinner flakes. This additional processing delivers a softer bowl of oatmeal, in a shorter amount of cooking time. Some say that the nutritional value lost during this process is not worth the added convenience.
Instant Oatmeal usually comes in individual serving packets and in my opinion should be avoided because of the amount of processing required and the addition of sugar, salt, and artifcial flavors.
Oatmeal, rolled or steel cut, feel confident that either one will make a great healthy choice for you family. You should take into account that your family doesn't like will probably not be eaten. My family is not fond of the soft porridge like texture of the rolled oats. When I tried steel cut oats for the first time I was presently surprised that everyone liked it even my pickiest eater.
Cooking Steel Cut Oats: I suggest cooking it at a 1 oats to 3 water ratio. Bring water and oats to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 min. To cut down on preparation time I suggest cooking a large pot and storing it in the fridge for up to a week. Just warm up a bowl of oatmeal with skim milk or vanilla protein drink (I prefer Melaleuca's Proflex protein shake) and frozen blueberries.
Everything I read suggested that steel cut oats is more expensive than rolled oats but I found them at Sunflower Market (health food store) in bulk for the same price (.78 a pound).