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Warm Winter Favorite: Oatmeal

Bowl of Oatmeal

Oatmeal is not just something you ate so much as a kid because it was cheap and easy for your parents to make – it’s also actually really, really good for you. The next time you're feeling down because of cold and blustery weather outside, turn to a nice warm bowl of oatmeal or throw some oats into your baked goods for a touch of nostalgia as well as some important nutrients.

Oatmeal is so good for you!

So why is oatmeal, in its various forms, so good for you? For one, it contains a particular type of fiber called beta-glucan that has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood. In fact, combined with its three grams of fiber per bowl, a daily serving of oatmeal could reduce cholesterol by about 23 percent as well as cut the risk of heart disease by nearly half. Beta-glucan also has another benefit – it helps your immune system fight off bacterial infections – something we are all too familiar with in the cold winter months. For those who are dieting or who are managing diabetes, the fiber in oatmeal helps to stabilized blood sugar levels to keep you full longer, as well as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 19 percent (up to 31 percent if consumed as part of a whole-grain diet), particularly in women. Even for those with gluten intolerance, oatmeal may be a great alternative due to its very low gluten levels. Oat flour can often be used in recipes where wheat flour is called for, and as a bonus you get all the health benefits mentioned above.

Types of Oats

There are many different types of oat products you can purchase; each tends to vary in texture, cooking preparation, and nutrient levels. Generally speaking, the quick oatmeal we are all used to does not offer as much of the health benefits mentioned since the hull of the oat grain has been removed. Instead, consider steel cut oats which keep the whole grain intact. Although they take longer to cook, you will end up with a much healthier meal (you can choose to soak them overnight to speed up the cooking process). Besides using oats for oatmeal, you can add oats to bread recipes, baked goods, on top of desserts, etc. Oats can even be added to smoothies for a smooth, creamy texture. Meanwhile, oat flour can be used to make muffins, cookies, pancakes, brownies, and cakes. Don’t forget that oatmeal goes really well with fresh berries, bananas, nuts and seeds if you are looking to get away from the same boring old bowl of oatmeal from your childhood! Photo: emmadiscovery