Oats are long-lasting hard grains that can grow in any condition unlike other cereals. Scientifically known as avena sativa, oats are packed with various nutrients and fibre. They have a distinct flavour, which suits individuals of all ages. Though they are the favourite choice for breakfast cereals, you can even have them as baked goodies or as food stuffing, depending on the way they are processed.
The good part is that oats are readily available, inexpensive, and easy to incorporate into your daily diet. They generally come in pre-packaged containers as well as in bulk bins. While purchasing oats, make sure they are free from moisture. To make sure that oats are fresh, smell them. If they smell rancid, they are bad; don’t buy them. Oatmeals stay good for about two months, if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place. They are also available on the breakfast menu of almost every restaurant.
Oat is a low-calorie grain rich in various nutrients like magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium and protein. A 100g of oats contain 380 calories, while the fat content is just 10 per cent [10g] of the total calories. Of all the grains, oats contain one of the best amino acid profiles. Amino acids are essential proteins that help facilitate optimum functioning of the body. The combination of these nutrients makes oats a super food. If you eat a bowl of oats on a regular basis, you will be able to achieve your fitness goal earlier than usual.
Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal contain a specific type of fibre known as beta-glucan. Oat, with its high fibre content, helps remove cholesterol from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream. This indirectly helps decrease the low density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol from oxidation and protects us from cardiovascular disease.
- Oats are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion. It can be easily included in a diabetic diet.
- Oats are a great source of dietary fibre. They consist of approximately 55 per cent soluble fibre and 45 per cent insoluble fibre, and hence are a good cure for constipation.
- Oats also prevent bowel cancer because of its high fibre content.
- Oats are very filling and low in calories. They make a healthy breakfast and can be eaten as meals by people looking to reduce weight.
- Oats are high in vitamin B1, which is required by the body to metabolise carbohydrates.
- Oats are considered to be a good source of selenium. This micro mineral is involved in DNA repair and is associated with reduced risk of cancer, especially colon cancer.
- Oatmeal contains zinc, which is an essential constituent of many enzymes and is required for metabolism of nucleic acids. Zinc is also associated with healing of wounds, growth, reproduction and glucose tolerance of the body.
In your meal
There are various ways to include oats in your diet. You can have them with milk in your breakfast or make healthy snacks out of them like oat cookies, or oat flour muffins. You can also make a dessert out of it by making oat chikkis and oat cakes. Combine them with other cold cereals like muesli and granola for more variety and nutrition. In fact, oats are a major ingredient in various energy bars used by athletes.
According to experts, oats have anti-depressant properties. They act as a restorative nerve tonic and are good for bed-wetting, and skin disorders. They are also known to provide relief in insomnia. They help fight stress and stress-related sexual impotence. Oat bran contains silicon and vitamins A and B, which have a soothing effect on the nervous system. Oat bran can be taken orally as a concoction. It can also be used externally in your bath.