Nothing says good morning like a hot bowl of oatmeal, does it? Creamy, slightly nutty, and even a little sweet, oats are truly one of the most unique, humble superfoods we can eat. They’re energizing, provide satiety, can be made creamy even without milk, used to improve your workouts, enhance your mood, and goodness gracious, they can even be made savory style for lunch or dinner! Hooray for all things oats!
Oats are also one of the most recommended foods for preventing heart disease, lowering your blood sugar and improving your nervous system function. Not too bad for a simple bowl of grains, eh?
But that’s not all there is to love about oats. Despite they’re tasty and nutritious, they’re also quite the interesting and impressive little group of grains too. Next time you stare at your oats with mundane boredom and despair, think about all these unique facts about oats to make you appreciate one of civilizations’ most ancient, popular grains. And give your oats some love with some unique ways to try them out, if you haven’t already!
Before Quaker made its way to our shelves and Cheerios became one of the most popular oat-based cereals, whole grain oats were consumed by a mass amount of people of the earliest of times, dating back to 7,000 B.C. Oats were one of the first cereals cultivated by man and were used in ancient China and even Greeks who were the first to turn them into a porridge.
Oats are inexpensive and so versatile, which is likely why 75 percent of the American population eats them for breakfast or keeps them in their cupboards. This is great, considering oats are a plant-based food, and they’re one of the easiest foods to enjoy when transitioning to a more plant-based lifestyle.
One 18 ounce container of most brands of oats has over 26,000 rolled oats within the package! Think of all the delicious bowls of oatmeal you could make for just a couple dollars a month. In case you’re wondering, they average about 15 cents per serving, which is far less than a breakfast of bacon and eggs. In case you need ideas for new oatmeal recipes, this yummy slow-cooker oatmeal is a great way to try out the humble grain and save time by cooking it overnight.
Oats have been one of the most consistent foods linked to preventing heart disease. Thirty-seven studies have shown when oats are eaten every morning, they provide a reduced risk for heart disease. Just leave out the sugar, milk, and butter so you get the benefits. You don’t need those thanks to yummy toppings and ingredients like non-dairy milk, almonds, berries, stevia, nut butter, and sliced bananas or walnuts, right?
One-half cup of oats has over 25 percent of your recommended amount of biotin. Biotin is a B vitamin responsible for a healthy metabolism and digestion, but it also contributes to great hair, skin, and nails. It’s the star ingredient found in hair, skin, and nail vitamins, in fact. So, why not just eat some oats and benefit the natural way instead? Other plant-based sources of biotin include almonds and chia seeds – two perfect oatmeal toppings! Oats are also a great source of protein, which stimulates collagen formation in the body. Collagen is what keeps your skin looking soft and supple, and anti-inflammatory sources such as oats are a much better option than inflammatory animal product sources.
Oats’ beneficial fibers come specifically from a type of soluble fiber known as beta-glucans, which have been found to improve immune function and keep harmful bacteria away that leads to illness. Beta-glucans in oats have also been linked to even preventing cancer, especially breast and colon cancer. This is pure proof that consuming oatmeal as part of a healthy, balanced diet is a wonderful way to take care of your immune system naturally. Try topping your oats with high-antioxidant berries to protect your body even further.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by poor insulin function, known as insulin resistance where insulin can’t reach the cells efficiently due to too much harmful fat or because a diet in high in processed foods or with high amounts of refined sugar is consumed. Oats are one of the few whole grains that has repeatedly been linked to lowering the risk for type 2 diabetes. This is because oats contain over 300 milligrams of magnesium, a super star nutrient that balances your blood sugar to help you take care of your insulin levels naturally. Their high fiber content ensures they are digested slowly, which helps release insulin more slowly into the bloodstream, leading to reduced amounts of blood sugar spikes. Their high magnesium and fiber content is even recommended by the Whole Grains Council as a remedy against constipation. Not too shabby, right?
Oats originate as mentioned above in Asia (specifically China) and were grown on the red oat plant. Oats have been cultivated for 2,000 years in regions all over the world but gained their popularity most when they were brought to Europe. We can thank the Scotlands for bringing oats to Northern America in the 17th century, since oats were one of the most important commercial crops and dietary staples in Scotland, Germany, Scandinavian countries, and Great Britain.
That’s right- Cedar Rapids, Iowa is the largest producer of oats in the United States, which is no surprise considering it’s the home of Quaker oats (the most popular brand.) You don’t have to buy Quaker oats to get great oats though, a variety of companies produce oats, many of which are even organic and gluten-free. Iowa-grown or not, all oats are great!
Despite oats being a great breakfast option, they’re actually most used to make oatmeal cookies. Whether you make your oats for breakfast or dessert, oats make a much healthier ingredient to use than processed grains and cereals. Check out our favorite 5 Vegan Oatmeal Cookie recipes if you need more ideas for the ever treat.
For the healthiest, mightiest form of oat, choose steel cut, or better yet, whole oat groats. These require cooking longer, so if you’re super impatient (like most of us hungry in the morning or wanting a cookie), just use rolled oats, which are the next best option. Avoid using instant oatmeal with added sugars and save money by mixing up your own yummy oatmeal recipes at home.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy oatmeal? Let us know in the comments below!
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Carrot Cake Oatmeal With Ginger Spiced Cashew Cream