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Benefits of Steel Cut Oats

Oatmeal is a classic breakfast food, but the tiny packets of instant oats often contain more sugar and fewer beneficial nutrients than your body needs in the morning. Steel cut oats are just that- a whole grain oatmeal that has been cut into bite-size bits, and they are fantastic as breakfast or any other meal throughout the day.

Steel cut oats are rich in nutrients compared to their instant oats counterparts. This is due to the different processes used to make these oats. All forms of oatmeal are made from oat groats, the grains that are harvested from oats. After being roasted at a low temperature, the groats are chopped with a steel blade into several pieces, yielding steel cut oats (Foster, 2015).

In contrast, instant oats are pre-cooked, dried, rolled, and pressed very thinly. This allows them to cook quickly but robs you of the great flavor and superior nutritional value of steel cut oats.

Steel Cut Oats As a Source of Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that our bodies can’t digest. Even though your body does not absorb any nutrients from fiber, it is critical for your health. The soluble fiber found in steel cut oats dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance that lowers your cholesterol levels and stabilizes blood glucose (Mayo Clinic, 2015). The other kind of fiber, called insoluble fiber, adds bulk to your stool. This promotes gastrointestinal regularity and improves overall digestive health.

Oats are a particularly good source of dietary fiber. A ¼ cup serving (dry) of steel cut oats contains 5 grams of dietary fiber, or 20% of your recommended dietary allowance (Self Nutrition Data, 2015). Alarmingly, less than 3% of the American population meets their recommended daily target for fiber (Clemens, 2012). Eating steel cut oats every day can help you get enough.

Steel Cut Oats As a Vegetarian Source of Iron

Iron is a mineral that is essential for everyday functioning. The primary purpose of iron is to serve as an essential component of hemoglobin, the compound that helps oxygen travel through the bloodstream (Office of Dietary Supplements, 2016). Without enough hemoglobin, your tissues are unable to get the oxygen they need to thrive. This can cause anemia, which is associated with poor cognitive functioning, disrupted immune system health, difficulty regulating your body temperature, and gastrointestinal problems (Office of Dietary Supplements, 2016).

A serving of steel cut oats contains 1.8 mg of iron (Self Nutrition Data, 2015). Adult men need 8 mg of iron daily, while adult women need 18 mg (Office of Dietary Supplements, 2016). This difference is due to women’s menstrual periods, which cause them to lose iron. It is important to note that as with all vegetarian sources of iron, the iron found in steel cut oats is non-heme iron. This type of iron is more difficult for the body to absorb than the heme iron found in animal products.

Steel Cut Oats Sustain Your Energy Levels Throughout the Day

Many people skip breakfast or simply grab a piece of fruit on their way out the door. This is a recipe for major hunger pains by mid-morning. Eating a healthy breakfast such as steel cut oats can help you sustain your energy levels throughout the day. This is because steel cut oats are a whole grain food, meaning that they are a good source of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates take your body longer to break down, leading to a sustained release of energy. Pairing steel cut oats with something protein rich, such as a tablespoon of peanut butter, a handful of nuts, or a glass of milk, can further help you maintain satiety throughout the morning.

Steel Cut Oats are a Low Glycemic Index Food

The glycemic index value of a food refers to the amount that a given portion of the food raises your blood glucose levels (Harvard Health, 2015). This is particularly important for people with diabetes, who must be conscious of the effects of their dietary choices on blood glucose levels. Avoiding blood sugar spikes by eating low glycemic index foods is a healthy dietary choice. Steel cut oats have a glycemic index of 55 (Harvard Health, 2015), which is considered to be in the low range. Thus, eating steel cut oats has a relatively low impact on blood sugar and may be a healthy dietary choice for people with diabetes.

Steel Cut Oats Can Be Part of a Gluten Free Diet

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and triticale. Oats, on the other hand, do not naturally contain gluten. This makes them a great option for people following a gluten free diet. However, it is important to check the label to ensure that steel cut oats have not been processed with other grains. Look for oats labeled “gluten free” to avoid cross contamination.

Steel Cut Oat Recipes

The following recipes suggest means of making a mouthwatering meal from gluten-free rolled oats, but you can swap them out for a steel cut variety to produce a chewier, more wholesome dish.

Strawberry and Banana Overnight Oats

Strawberry and Banana Overnight Oats Recipe

A simple breakfast recipe that allows you to enjoy sweet savors as you roll out of bed, this plate is the perfect solution for those that lack time in their morning routine needed to prep a healthy meal.
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, chia seeds, walnuts, unsweetened shredded coconut, fresh or frozen strawberries, ripe bananas, agave or maple syrup, almond milk.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 10 - 12 244-gram servings

Moringa Oatmeal

Moringa Oatmeal Recipe

Another oatmeal dish upgraded with a selection of scrumptious supplementary toppings and ingredients, this bowl offers a balanced meal with a uniquely natural source of sweetness.
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, almond milk, agave or maple syrup, vanilla extract, moringa powder, pistachios, dried mulberries, unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 324-gram servings

Steel Cut Oat Products

You can find a full list of our oats and oat cereals here, but you can also find a small sample of our favorite oat products below.

References

Clemens, R., et al. (2012). Filling America's fiber intake gap: summary of a roundtable to probe realistic solutions with a focus on grain-based foods. Journal of Nutrition, 1390-1401.

Foster, K. (2015). What's the difference between steel cut, rolled, and instant oats? The Kitchn. Retrieved from http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-steel-cut-rolled-and-instant-oats-138355

Harvard Health (2015). Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods

Mayo Clinic (2015). Dietary fiber: essential for a healthy diet. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

Office of Dietary Supplements (2016). Iron. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/

Self Nutrition Data (2015). Bob's Red Mill steel cut oats. Retrieved from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/2475764/2?quantity=3.0