A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Revisit oats to rediscover their amazing health benefits

Reasons to eat more oats

There is no magical food that provides everything you need in your diet but oats could come close, having health benefits that pack a nutritional punch that can fill you up and improve your health.

There is no magical food that provides everything you need in your diet but oats could come close, having health benefits that pack a nutritional punch that can fill you up and improve your health.

Most often considered a breakfast food in the form of oatmeal or porridge, oats are one of the healthiest grains on earth and offer great benefits, according to Chrisanne Urban, a Marshfield Clinic Health System dietitian, “though it doesn’t mean that if you eat oatmeal you can also eat all the doughnuts you want.”

Oats are:

  • A nutrient-dense food high in fiber containing lots of vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, copper, manganese, zinc and thiamine. And it packs a lot of protein.
  • High in antioxidants like polyphenols and touted to help decrease cancer risk. Avenanthramides, a rare antioxidant, is found in oats and helps improve blood flow.
  • Helpful in reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood sugar levels because of its soluble fiber that takes longer to break down; and promoting regular bowel movements along with a balanced diet.
  • A filling food that delays stomach emptying which helps with weight loss since you feel fuller longer.

Oats have their own fun facts, Urban said. For example, 5% of total oats grown are used for human consumption with the remainder for animal feed. They date back to 2,000 B.C.; are a bargain at about 15 cents per serving; and 75% of households have them in their kitchen cupboards. They also have more protein and fat than most other grains and are a good source of beta glucan, a soluble fiber linked to multiple health benefits.

Go to the grocery store and you’ll see oats in various forms – whole grain groat; steel-cut oats; old-fashioned longer-cooking oats; and quick-cooking or instant oats. Urban recommends longer-cooking or steel-cut oats to get in the most health benefits due to higher fiber content. Though the most convenient, quick-cooking instant oats is the most processed version with the least benefit.

“Oatmeal can be kind of exciting if you add fruit to it, a little bit of nuts, cinnamon or peanut butter,” Urban said. “What could be fun is to cook oats using a basic recipe and have an ‘oatmeal bar’ where everybody can create their own versions. Offer various fruits, nuts and other fun ingredients. This would be a nice way to bring the family together for breakfast and yet another reason I’d encourage everybody to revisit oatmeal.”

Oats are also included in muffins, granola and granola bars, cookies, breads and other baked goods as well as dishes like meatloaf.

Urban suggests trying this recipe and enjoying the flavor and texture of steel-cut oats.

Cook’s Illustrated Steel-Cut Oatmeal in 10 Minutes

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 2


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1 pinch salt, optional
  • 1/2 cup milk or water, almond milk or cashew milk
  • Pecans or any chopped and toasted nut you prefer
  • Fresh fruit, optional
  • Sharp cheddar cheese or whatever cheese you prefer, optional


In a small saucepan, combine water, steel-cut oats and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and reserve overnight.

The next day, stir in milk and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Then lower the heat to medium and cook for 4-6 minutes until it has the consistency of thick pudding. Stir occasionally and monitor to make sure that the milk/water doesn’t boil over.

Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Stir and serve. Garnish with pecans. Also if you have fresh fruit on hand, toss it in. Serve with a small wedge of sharp cheddar cheese on the side if you like.

Nutrition information

Each serving contains about 170 calories; 30 g carbs; 3 g fat; 6 g protein; 4 g dietary fiber; 28 g sodium.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated magazine

Print recipe



Find more recipes at shine365.marshfieldclinic.org

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