Monday, February 8, 2016 is Oatmeal Monday. Oats are whole grains. According to the Whole Grains Council, the definition of whole grain is: “whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions. If the grain has been processed (e.g., cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, and/or cooked), the food product should deliver the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed. 100 percent of the original kernel (all of the bran, germ, and endosperm) must be present to qualify as a whole grain.
Oats come in a variety of forms. Below is a list of the forms from the Whole Grains Council, starting from the least processed oats to the most processed oats. FYI: no matter what form you use, they all have the same nutritional content because whole oats are used to make the different forms.
As a side note, I used all forms of oats except groats when I lowered my cholesterol level by 16 points in one year. Below are some of the ways I incorporated oats into my regular diet: Oats have been proven to reduce the LDL (bad) levels of cholesterol because of the soluble fiber in the oats.
- I replaced breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs with regular rolled oats whenever I made hamburgers or meatloaf
- Thickened soups by using regular rolled oats that I processed in my food processor to “flour”
- Made cobblers and crisps for breakfast by using a variety of oats
- Made “overnight oatmeal” by mixing steel cut oats with a combination of Greek yogurt and Almond Silk (and a variety of fruits and extracts to increase the flavor)
- Made quick breads by replacing one third of the regular flour with regular rolled oats that I processed in my food processor
- Ground rolled oats to make “flour” to mix with seasonings to coat chicken breasts along with pecans before baking the chicken to put on the top of a romaine salad.
Click here for pictures and descriptions of the different forms of oats.
- Groats: term for a grain kernel that are harvested, cleaned, and inedible hulls removed. Groats take the longest to cook because they are processed the least.
- Steel Cut Oats: Groats that are cut several times with sharp steel blades. Steel cut oats cook faster because the grain is in smaller pieces. Steel cut oats are also referred to as Irish Oatmeal.
- Scottish Oatmeal: Scots used to stone-grind the groats, which broke them into broken pieces of different sizes. Scottish oatmeal is creamer than steel cut oats. Also known as “porridge”.
- Rolled Oats, Regular (also known as Old Fashioned): steamed and then rolled into flakes. Clearly, flakes cook faster than broken kernels.
- Rolled Oats, Quick or Instant: oats that are rolled thinner than “regular rolled oats” or steamed longer. Quick or instant oats cook faster than any of the other forms listed above
- Oat Flour: oats that have been ground into flour and can be used as a thickening agent when cooking or to substitute part of white flour when baking.
Oats are one of the many “super foods” because there are so many benefits in eating them, no matter what form. Below are some examples of some of the benefits
- Helps you to eat less because you feel full longer due to the fiber in oats
- Lowers your LDL level of cholesterol
- Helps to improve your immune system
- Aids in controlling blood pressure
- Leads to a healthier heart
- Aids in avoiding Type 2 Diabetes