The Health Benefits Of Oats And Oatmeal Explained
I think that most of us are familiar with oats and oatmeal as they’re a popular meal at breakfast time all over the world. They have become the basis for many diets across cultures for a long time, meaning that they aren’t only relegated to breakfast time meals, but can rather be used for a variety of different dishes, and are especially popular in baking recipes.
While they may be tasty and filling when prepared correctly, a lot of people don’t necessarily realize how healthy they are as well. I for one, never take that into concern for a long time, even though I eat them all the time. I’ve become more interested in understanding the food that I eat as a means of trying to lead a healthier and more natural lifestyle. A door opens to a world of information that I used to be completely unconcerned with.
I think that many of people are generally unaware of what’s actually in most of the food they eat and will generally eat things that taste nice whether they’re healthy or not. Thankfully though, in recent times there has been an increase in awareness within the general population (one could say a trend) regarding the quality of the food we eat and what effects it has on our health in general.
This has lead more and more people to start avoiding processed foods and start including healthier, natural sources of nutrition in their diets. I believe that the overarching philosophy surrounding this movement can be linked to the growing emphasis on preventing illnesses and disease rather than relying on conventional or pharmaceutical cures to get the job done. One thing that everyone can agree on, is that prevention is better than the cure.
Thankfully, finding healthier natural alternatives is becoming easier as the supply and demand for them grows. But the truth is that in most cases, the healthiest options are the ones that have been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years and occur naturally within the environment without needing artificial ingredients or unhealthy additives.
So if you’re interested in finding out more about how you can live a healthier life, or simply want to know what effects that bowl of oats you had this morning will actually have on your body, then I’d recommend that you continue reading this article. A world of healthy living awaits you!
What is Oatmeal? Where Does It Come From?
Oatmeal is a staple of human culture and various ancient civilizations for a variety of different reasons. It plays an important role in shaping the agricultural practices that determine the way we grow food. Also, oatmeal is an important factor in beauty routines. It was one of the last major cereal grains to be domesticated around 3000 years ago in ancient Europe. Also, originally growing as weeds in the fields of other crops. However, due to cultivation and specific agricultural practices, oats are the cereal grain we know today.
For a long time, the ancient Greeks and Romans considered oats to be suitable only for horse feed as it used to go bad (or rancid) very quickly after it was harvested. This was due to a natural fat dissolving enzyme that had occurred in the grain. How ironic it was then that these nations were eventually beaten by the oat-eating Germanic tribes!
In a different part of Europe, Oats formed an important part of the Irish and Scottish culture and diets for a long time. They were often served as a way to preserve energy during the cold winters and keep people warm. However, oats weren’t just prevalent in Europe. Records show that they were used by the ancient Egyptians over 2000 years ago, but not as a food. The Egyptians used oats in beauty practices and were famed for making facial masks, exfoliating facial scrubs and even as natural bath soaks to help revitalize and nourish the skin. In recent times, not much has changed in terms of popularity of this super grain.
Roughly 5% of global oatmeal production is used for human consumption and the rest is generally relegated for animal feed. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be eating it, and I hope that in future this percentage is raised.
Nutrients Found In Oatmeal
Oatmeal contains an astoundingly high amount of vitamins and minerals, a lot more than you would expect to find in a grain. While the most obvious nutritional benefit of oatmeal lies in its high fiber content, the fact that it contains high amounts of manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin B1 and B5 and many other vitamins and nutrients should come as a surprise to many. It was certainly a surprise to me.
On top of the fact that oatmeal contains such a varied amount of vitamins and nutrients, it is also loaded with a high amount of them. For instance, here is a list of roughly all the vitamins and nutrients contained in 1 cup of oatmeal (78 grams):
- 191% of the recommended daily dosage of Manganese.
- 41% of the recommended daily dosage of Phosphorous.
- 34% of the recommended daily dosage of Magnesium.
- 24% of the recommended daily dosage of Copper.
- 20% of the recommended daily dosage of Iron.
- 20% of the recommended daily dosage of Zinc.
- 39% of the recommended daily dosage of Vitamin B1 (thiamin).
- 11% of the recommended daily dosage of Folate.
- 10% of the recommended daily dosage of Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid).
1 Cup of oatmeal is also loaded with 13 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 8 grams of fiber with only around 300 calories per serving, which makes it excellent for people who are working out on a regular basis. If that isn’t enough for the exercise buffs, it’s a great source of slow-release energy which allows for more consistent energy expenditure. Oatmeal can also aid in weight loss as it will help to suppress appetite, but more on that later.
Oatmeal for Blood Pressure
One of the main causes for low blood pressure in our bodies is the buildup of LDL or Low Density Lipoproteins. LDS’s are the result of eating foods that contain high amounts of saturated fats. For example, red meat, eggs, whole-dairy products as well as oils such as vegetable oil, palm oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter. Trans fats have also been directly linked to an increase in LDL and are formed by the chemical reaction that is used to create ‘foods’ like margarine. They are usually included as a means of increasing the shelf-life of foods. Due to the fact that our bodies cannot actually digest these facts, they immediately go straight to our veins and cause blockages.
The result of these blockages is a slower blood flow and ultimately lower blood pressure, which can have a series of negative knock-on effects on our system as a whole, as well as being directly linked to the formation and development of heart disease. By eating a high fiber diet (think oatmeal and blueberries for breakfast to name two foods high in natural fiber), we can essentially flush out the LDL and the free radicals (or oxygenated molecules) that come with them as they bond with the fibrous foods in our system, thus making them ready for expulsion from our system.
It’s also important to ensure that we get enough regular exercise in order to aid the flushing of toxins, as when we are sweating we’re essentially sweating these toxins and free radicals out of our system. This is ultimately preventing their buildup in our system and allowing us to be healthier and prevent illness in disease. As opposed to trying to cure them once they form. This is a much more holistic approach to healthcare in my opinion. Many are starting to agree with this approach both in the general public and the medical fraternity.
Oatmeal for Digestion and Weight Loss
Besides being a tasty breakfast treat, oatmeal can work wonders for those trying to lose weight. Due to the fact that it is very filling and high in fiber, a little can go a long way. Oatmeal’s big benefits include appeasing your hunger pangs and suppressing your appetite. This means you’ll eat less and therefore have less fat to process.
Oatmeal is also very low in calories, so it won’t pack on any unwanted pounds. Because oatmeal takes a long time to digest, the beta-glucan in oatmeal increases that feeling of ‘fullness’ you get after eating a hearty meal. Oatmeal also stimulates the release of a peptide known as ‘YY’ which has shown to reduce your body’s ability to take calories in, therefore reducing the amount of weight you gain during meals.
Because of the high fiber found in oatmeal, eating it on a regular basis can help in multiple ways. Oatmeal relieves infrequent bowel movements or constipation in a way that is healthier and more natural than conventional, pharmaceutical laxatives. These generally tend to come with negative side-effects which we do not need to get into. Having smooth and regular bowel movements is an important factor of weight loss and leading a healthy life. When we’re constipated, the buildup of bacteria in our digestive tract can lead to serious infections and stomach pains. Maintaining a balanced ‘energy-in’ to ‘energy-out’ ratio is an important aspect of leading a healthy life.
Oatmeal For Cancer Explained
While oatmeal may not have any direct effect on treating the actual cancer cells during a period of infection, they can be incredibly helpful in recovering cancer patients as the many health benefits that they provide can help with the recovery process and promote positive overall health.
One of the main positive factors that oatmeal can provide for someone recovering from cancer is that it helps to reduce high cholesterol levels, which can have serious knock-on effects on your body, especially when your immune system is weakened. By reducing cholesterol, you ultimately reduce the amount of internal stress that your body has to cope with. Then, reducing the number of free radicals and excess toxins in your system, consequently limiting the amount of oxidative damage that occurs in your system.
Oatmeal can also help to boost your overall immune levels, which is exactly what your body needs after chemotherapy of cancer damage. By strengthening your immune system and boosting your body’s energy levels, you can encourage a steadier and quicker recovery as well as ensure that you don’t fall ill during the recovery process.
Moreover, when your body is weakened after something as serious as cancer, even a cold or flu virus can be a fatal infection. So it’s imperative that you keep your health up with loads of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain cereals.
Oatmeal Bath Benefits Explained
If you’re lucky enough to own a bath or have access to one, then oatmeal will become the best thing you can do to increase the luxury and health benefits of bathing. I would generally recommend showering as an alternative because it saves more water. However, having a bath once in awhile can work wonders on your skin and sinuses and is a massive stress reliever. Relieving that stress is always good for your health, so don’t feel shy to treat yourself now and again.
I was a bit surprised to find out that you could use oats during your bath -- it sounded like something out of a Salvador Dali painting. However, there health benefits to this and a method to the madness. I would recommend adding a cup of the oatmeal to your bath while it’s filling up with water, and then adding 5-7 drops of Lavender, Ylang Ylang or Bergamot oil to the bath as well.
The oats help to cleanse your skin much like a loofah. They work to help remove excess skin cells and oxidized oil on the surface of your skin . It basically is a highly efficient natural exfoliator. The essential oils will also help to nourish your skin with much needed vitamins and minerals, and will add a heavenly scent to your bath thus allowing you to relax and get rid of that stress!
DIY Oatmeal Face Mask Recipe & Guide
Oatmeal can also be used in your daily beauty routine and makes for a highly effective, all-natural face mask. Here’s a simple and straightforward recipe that shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to prepare and is perfect for those night’s where you just feel like unwinding and treating the bags under your eyes. You will need:
- ½ Cup Of Hot (not boiling) Water
- ⅓ Cup Of Oatmeal
- 2 Tablespoons Of Plain Yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons Of Honey
- 1 Small Egg
Simply mix the oatmeal and the water together and allow them to rest for 3 minutes. Then mix in the yogurt, honey, and the egg and be sure to stir well. Now apply a thin layer of the mask to your face and allow it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Once that time is up, rinse it with warm water and note how soft and smooth your skin will feel. This is definitely one of my favorite natural DIY recipes so far -- cheap, easy and effective!
To conclude, oatmeal has played an important part in breakfasts around the world for centuries and I don’t think this is going to change anytime soon. As I mentioned earlier in the article, I was really surprised to find out how many health benefits this humble cereal could actually provide you consumed on a regular basis.
For something that’s so cheap and readily available, that’s quite a bonus. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, stay healthy, promote a healthy digestive system or are simply looking for a good form of healthy and nutritious breakfast -- then you should look no further than oatmeal.