In many supermarkets you can buy a pack of 500 grams of oatmeal for less than 40 cents. That’s a fraction of what you pay for other cereals.
However, do not be fooled by this ridiculously low price. Oatmeal is one of the most nutritious foods that exists!
Oats is therefore a common thread running through my Afslank Recipe Bible. In this article you discover why that is and what the health benefits of oats are.
In this article you will learn:
- What is oats
- What the difference is between oats and oatmeal
- What the nutritional value of oats is
- What are the health benefits of oats
Finally, I will give you a number of recipes so that you can really start enjoying oatmeal.
What is oats?
Oats are cereals that have been cultivated for more than 9,000 years and originate in Southwest Asia and Southeastern Europe.
The Romans considered oats as food for the barbarians and only fed it to their animals.
Ironically, it was the oat-eating Germanic tribes who ultimately defeated the Romans and brought down the Western Roman Empire.
Oatmeal was also used in medicine in the Middle Ages. It was used against bladder diseases, stomach complaints and problems with blood vessels. They also used oats to be able to recuperate quickly after illness.
Currently, oats are the most cultivated and consumed grain alongside wheat, rice and corn.
Until the 1970s, many oats were eaten in the Netherlands. Not only as breakfast (oatmeal porridge) but it was also regularly used for lunch and dinner.
This was not necessarily because it was considered so healthy but often out of sheer necessity, it was a cheap way to provide a large family with food.
In the 1970s, oatmeal was displaced by the emergence of other breakfast cereals, cornflakes and muesli and foreign dishes based on pasta or rice.
Over the past decades, oats have been making an impressive comeback. Many people have really rediscovered oatmeal thanks to all its health benefits.
Nowadays, many people eat oats again, which can also be seen in supermarkets.
There are entire shelves full of all kinds of oats and oatmeal and you will find more and more products in which it is processed.
So you have cookies, smoothies, crackers, macaroni and energy bars with oats.
Difference between oats and oatmeal
All that choice in the supermarket might make you dizzy. You can choose from:
- Oatmeal with fine flakes
- Oatmeal with coarse flakes
- Fiber-rich oatmeal
- Organic oatmeal
- Oat flakes
- Oat flakes coarse
- Fine oat flakes
- Express oatmeal
- Instant oatmeal
- Instant oats
- Gluten free oatmeal
- Natural oatmeal
- Oat bran
- Sprouted oat flakes
- Gluten-free oatmeal
- Oat groats
- Oatmeal with various flavors
- Finely roasted oat flakes
- Oat flakes
- Oatmeal with dried fruit
And so you might come across more names and cries. The agreement is in any case that all these varieties are made from oats.
The differences are in the processing that the oats have undergone and sometimes marketing terms are used for something that is (almost) the same.
For example, Quaker sells ‘Oats express natural oatmeal’.
A whole mouth full but it is just fine whole grain oatmeal to which they have added soy lecithin so that it does not boil over in the microwave.
How oatmeal is made
For example, oatmeal is oats that have undergone the malting process. The oat grain is germinated and then dried.
This is done by first removing the chaff from the oat grain. The crown chaff is not edible.
The oats are then soaked in water for 2 days, after which germination occurs for 5 days. The oats are dried and eaten to stop germination.
After drying, the root germs are removed, after which the oats are crushed into flakes.
The resulting oat flakes are suitable for consumption, but are often cut into smaller pieces to shorten the preparation time.
The finer the oatmeal, the shorter the cooking time needs to be. Therefore always keep the preparation time indicated on the oatmeal package that you have purchased.
You may need to cook one fine oatmeal for 5 minutes while another fine oatmeal only needs 2 minutes. This is then probably a bit finer cut.
You also have instant oatmeal varieties. These are already pre-cooked so that you only have to heat them up or eat cold.
The disadvantage of some instant oatmeal varieties, however, is that sometimes sugar, salt or other flavorings have also been added.
Always read the ingredient list carefully when you buy ready-made oatmeal.
What about gluten?
Gluten are proteins found in wheat, spelled, kamut, rye and barley.
Gluten give pasta their unique baking quality because they ensure cohesion, viscosity, elasticity and ensure the absorption of moisture ( source ).
For example, gluten-free products such as bread and cookies lack these qualities. They are therefore often somewhat sticky or dry and crumbly.
Many people are sensitive to gluten and get complaints from eating gluten. An estimated 5% of the world population is sensitive to eating gluten ( source ).
Oatmeal is for people who have gluten sensitivity (Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity / NCGS) a good alternative to gluten-containing cereals because it is naturally gluten-free .
With NCGS you do get complaints by eating gluten while you have not been diagnosed with celiac disease.
These can be complaints such as bloating, abdominal pain, headache, fatigue, constipation or diarrhea. By following a gluten-free diet, these symptoms disappear.
Pollution with gluten
Keep in mind that oatmeal can contain traces of gluten.
This can happen because contamination with gluten-containing grains can occur somewhere in the production chain.
For example, the oatmeal can be grown on a field that is located next to a field with wheat. Some wheat may have grown between the oats.
It can also happen that a machine is used to harvest a gluten-containing grain.
It is also possible that the oats are processed in a factory that also processes gluten-containing grains.
Can you tolerate small amounts of gluten? Then you probably won’t have any problems with regular oatmeal that may contain traces of gluten.
If you are very sensitive to gluten, you can go safe and buy the more expensive gluten-free oatmeal varieties.
The entire production chain of these gluten-free oatmeal varieties is checked to ensure that there is no contamination with other grains in your oatmeal.
People with celiac disease cannot tolerate any traces of gluten and will always have to go for the gluten-free varieties.
These are the oatmeal packages that explicitly state that they are gluten-free and have the gluten-free logo on the packaging .
Most supermarkets do sell gluten-free oatmeal and otherwise you can go to a health food store.
In people with celiac disease, the mucous membrane of the small intestine is damaged by gluten, which causes abdominal complaints such as diarrhea, constipation and poor stool.
Research shows that people with celiac disease can tolerate gluten-free oatmeal well in the long term.
In a small study of 106 participants, there was no damage to the wall of the small intestine after 8 years ( source ). The participants ate an average of 20 grams of oatmeal per day in this study.
Ehowever, a small percentage of people with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten-free oats. This is due to the vegetable storage protein avenine which is found in oats (malt) ( source ).
A study showed that 8% of people with celiac disease get a reaction if they eat a lot (100 grams per day) of oats ( source ).
Because the reaction was small and without clinical symptoms, the researchers also consider oats safe for this group of people to eat in normal portions.
If you have celiac disease and you are going to introduce oatmeal to your diet then you will have to experience for yourself how your body responds to it. Start with a small amount and increase this to a normal portion.
Nutritional value of oatmeal
Oatmeal is very nutritious per gram taken.
The nutritional value of oats (malt) can vary due to the extent to which it is processed.
Therefore, consult the packaging for the exact nutritional value.
To give you an idea, I have listed the average nutritional value of coarse oatmeal below.
|Oatmeal||Per 100 grams|
|Of which saturated||1 gram|
|Dietary fiber||10 grams|
|Egg whites||13 grams|
As you can see in this table, oatmeal provides you with all the macronutrients that your body needs.
Compared to other cereals, it gives you the most (healthy) fatty acids and proteins . This while oats give you the least carbohydrates compared to other cereals.
In addition, oatmeal is a very good source of fiber with no less than 10 grams of fiber per 100 grams. A number of health benefits are due to these fibers. More on that later.
Fatty profile of oatmeal
Oats distinguish themselves from other cereals by its relatively high fat content. Almost 7% consists of fatty acids, while other cereals consist of 2% to 3% fatty acids.
|Fatty acids||Per 100 grams|
|Total fatty acids||6.5 grams|
|Saturated fat||1.1 grams|
|Of which palmitic acid||930 mg|
|Of which stearic acid||59 mg|
|Of which lauric acid||21 mg|
|Of which myristic acid||10 mg|
|Monounsaturated fatty acid||2.0 grams|
|Of which palmitoleic acid||10 mg|
|Of which oleic acid||1.98 grams|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acid||2.3 grams|
|Of which linoleic acid ( omega 6 )||2.22 grams|
|Of which alpha linolenic acid ( omega 3 )||98 mg|
Amino acid profile oats
Because oatmeal contains more proteins than any other type of cereal, it is interesting to see from which amino acids it is made.
Oatmeal contains no less than 13.1 grams of protein per 100 grams which consist of 18 different amino acids.
Oatmeal contains all 9 essential amino acids , making oats suitable as a meat substitute (oatmeal does not contain any vitamin B12 ).
|Amino acids||Per 100 grams|
|Proteins, of which:||13.1 grams|
|Aspartic acid||1.11 mg|
|Glutamic acid||2.84 mg|
Vitamins in oatmeal
Grains are a good source of B vitamins , so they are also well represented in oatmeal.
|Vitamins||Per 100 grams|
|Thiamine (vitamin B1)||0.5 mg (31% RDA)|
|Riboflavin (vitamin B2)||0.2 mg (9% RDA)|
|Nicotinic acid (vitamin B3)||1.1 mg (6% RDA)|
|Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)||1.1 mg (11% RDA)|
|Vitamin B6||0.1 mg (5% RDA)|
|Folate (vitamin B11)||33 mcg (8% RDA)|
|Vitamin E||0.4 mg (2% RDA)|
|Vitamin K||2.0 mcg (2% RDA)|
Minerals in oatmeal
Like most cereals, oatmeal is rich in minerals.
|Minerals||Per 100 grams|
|Calcium||51 mg (5% RDA)|
|Iron||4.2 mg (23% RDA)|
|Magnesium||137 mg (34% RDA)|
|Phosphorus||416 mg (42% RDA)|
|Zinc||3.6 mg (24% RDA)|
|Copper||0.4 mg (20% RDA)|
|Manganese||3.6 mg (181% RDA)|
|Potassium||360 mg (10% RDA)|
|Selenium||28.1 mcg (40% RDA)|
|Sodium||6 mg (0% RDA)|
Health benefits of oatmeal
All those vitamins and minerals are nice, but you are naturally curious about the effect of oatmeal on your health.
Oatmeal has a number of amazingly positive effects on your health and also fits into a lifestyle that is focused on a healthy weight . I have summarized this for you in the infographic below. In the infographic you will also find some nice facts about oatmeal.
Health benefit # 1: supports a healthy weight
A healthy weight is the basis of good health.
Beta glucans are found in oats. These are chains of glucose that occur in vegetable foods. We cannot absorb these dietary fibers, but they do fill us.
A hormone that is produced in the intestinal cells is Peptide YY (PYY). The intestinal cells make this in response to food and it creates the feeling of satiety. This hormone is important, it ensures that you do not eat too much.
The type of carbohydrates in oatmeal are of the right type, since these are slow carbohydrates . These cause a slow release of glucose into the blood.
As a result, there is no peak in blood glucose, so your body needs to produce less insulin.
If there is a lot of insulin in the blood, your body starts storing and retaining fat. In order to lose weight, it is therefore beneficial not to have the insulin values rise too high.
Health benefit # 2: lowers blood pressure
The beta glucans (fibers) that oatmeal is rich in are also good for blood pressure. They lower blood pressure ( source ).
Health benefit # 3: lowers cholesterol
Health benefit # 4: reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
Lowering blood pressure and cholesterol naturally also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
This effect is not exclusive to oatmeal, other whole grains also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A large-scale meta-analysis showed that whole grain may be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes , respiratory diseases, cancer and infectious diseases ( source ).
Health Benefit # 5: Improves insulin resistance in diabetics
If you have diabetes then it is best to go for oatmeal which is coarse.
These carbohydrates are broken down into glucose more slowly than those of instant oats or fine oatmeal.
Health benefit # 6: reduces itching and irritation
The ancient Greeks already took oatmeal baths to care for their skin. In the Middle Ages, oats were also used to treat itching and irritation.
Today, some skincare products are enriched with oats and some beauticians offer oat milk cleansing.
Research shows that the antioxidant avenanthramide in oats is responsible for the anti-inflammation effect which can reduce itching or irritation of the skin ( source ).
For skin care, the effect is based on applying it to the skin, not eating oatmeal.
Oats are also used to treat eczema , burns and acne . This is usually done in baths with colloidal oatmeal; a powder that is made by grinding whole oat grains.
Health benefit # 7: reduces risk of asthma
Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract. It is estimated that more than 334 million people worldwide have asthma. It is the most common disease among children.
There are several factors that increase the risk of asthma. The chance is greater if one or both parents have asthma, if there is smoking during pregnancy or if the child is born prematurely or has a low birth weight.
Researchers have reason to believe that offering solid food early will increase the risk of developing asthma ( source ).
One study indicates that offering oatmeal before the baby is 6 months lowers the risk of asthma ( source ).
Health benefit # 8: helps with constipation
Constipation involves a blockage of the colon. This causes complaints such as abdominal pain, pain when going to the toilet and feeling bloated. Constipation occurs if you have faeces less than 3 times a week.
Constipation is a common problem, an estimated 12% to 19% of people suffer from it ( source ).
Often, people in later life constipation after 65 e age the incidence of complaints is increasing ( source ). Other common causes are insufficient drinking, dietary fiber and exercise. Too much stress can also be a cause.
Fiber is important for healthy bowel movements. These give volume to the stool and make it softer to move better through the intestines and prevent hard and dry.
Oat bran is the outer shell of oat grains and contains a lot of fiber in addition to a little oil.
In a small-scale study among the elderly in a care home, adding oat bran to the diet improved constipation symptoms ( source ).
More than half of the participants were able to stop using laxatives over time.
A meta-analysis showed that fibers undoubtedly cause an increase in bowel movements, but that this does not always lead to an improvement in the stool structure and a reduction in pain complaints ( source ).
If you suffer from constipation and eat extra fiber, always make sure that you also drink extra water . Otherwise your complaints will only get worse.
Oatmeal and phytic acid
Phytic acid is the storage form for phosphorus in most vegetable foods.
It is found in all edible types of grain, seeds, nuts and legumes. It is also found in some types of vegetables that grow underground such as carrots and tubers.
When germinating seeds, phytic acid is broken down and the phosphorus is released so that the young plant can use these nutrients to grow.
The amount of phytic acid in a food differs from one another but also within the same species. For example, in almonds phytic acid levels are found which can vary from 0.4% to as much as 9.4%.
Phytic acid has health properties that are actually at odds with each other. On the one hand, phytic acid is seen as an anti-nutrient, on the other it is an antioxidant.
Phytic acid as an antinutrient
It is seen as an antinutrient because it reduces the absorption of certain minerals. This includes zinc , iron and, to a lesser extent, calcium .
It could also influence the absorption of magnesium and copper, but this is more controversial ( source ).
Iron is important for the formation of hemoglobin so that the red blood cells can carry oxygen throughout the body. In the case of a serious form of iron deficiency, we speak of anemia.
Oatmeal contains 23% of the daily recommended amount of iron per 100 grams. This is iron in the form of non-heme iron which occurs in vegetable foods.
The other form of iron is heme iron. This form only occurs in animal foods and is better absorbed by the body.
Zinc has many functions in our body. It is important for the immune system, protein synthesis and the proper function of the reproductive organs. Oats contain 24% of the RDA of zinc per 100 grams.
Calcium is important for the bones and teeth but also for the proper functioning of the muscles and nerves. Oatmeal contains only 5% of the RDA of calcium per 100 grams.
Phytic acid only reduces the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium that are eaten during the same meal. Eating foods rich in phytic acid does not affect the absorption of these minerals during subsequent meals.
If you eat phytic acid-rich foods (seeds, grains, nuts, legumes) with all your meals, then this could lead to mineral deficiencies in the long term.
If you eat a varied diet, then you don’t have to worry about getting iron, zinc or calcium deficiencies.
In developing countries where people sometimes eat very unilaterally (for example, only cereals), this is an issue.
For enough iron in your diet you can better eat animal foods such as beef, chicken, egg and herring. These contain heme iron which is better absorbed by the body than the non-heme iron from vegetable foods.
If you eat vegetarian food then an iron deficiency is something you should be more aware of.
In any case, it is not a good idea to avoid all the food that contains phytic acid. You will then miss a lot of nutrients in your diet.
If you are nevertheless concerned about phytic acid in your food or if you eat vegetarian or vegan, then you can do a number of things to reduce the phytic acid in vegetable foods.
- Weeks ; you can soak seeds, nuts, grains and legumes in water overnight. This reduces the amount of phytic acid ( source , source ). The enzyme that breaks down phytic acid is phytase. This enzyme is found in foods that contain phytic acid, including oatmeal. Because rye is very rich in phytase, you can possibly add this to the oatmeal so that the phytic acid is better broken down. Keep in mind that rye contains gluten.
- Germs ; by germinating seeds, grains or legumes, phytic acid is broken down and the phosphorus is released ( source , source ).
- Fermenting ; acids released during the fermentation of food promote the breakdown of phytic acid. For example, lactic acid with sourdough bread breaks down the phytic acid of the grain ( source ).
The above method can also be combined; soak first, then germinate and then ferment so that phytic acid can be broken down almost completely.
Phytic acid as a nutrient
But before you get started with breaking down phytic acid, it’s good to know that phytic acid is not only the enemy but also your friend!
In summary, you do not have to worry about phytic acid if: you do not eat phytic acid-rich foods with every meal or you are vegetarian.
Eating oatmeal without letting it soak is fine as long as you don’t eat oatmeal every day. Always eat as varied as possible.
Oatmeal porridge is an ‘old-fashioned’ and healthy alternative to bread. Some people can wake you up for oatmeal porridge but I also know them who are disgusted with the thought.
Fortunately you can do so much more with oatmeal. For inspiration I will share a number of recipes here.
Recipe # 1: oatmeal porridge with banana and cocoa
Let’s start with traditional oatmeal porridge but with a twist. This simple recipe proves that oatmeal porridge does not have to be boring and is indeed very tasty.
- 200 ml of vegetable milk such as unsweetened almond milk or oat milk
- 50 grams of oat flakes
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon of cocoa nibs
- Put the almond milk in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Then add the oatmeal flakes and let it simmer on a low heat. Keep the cooking time indicated on the oatmeal package.
- When the oatmeal has finished cooking, add the cocoa powder and stir it.
- Cut the banana into segments and stir it into the porridge.
- Pour the oatmeal into a dish and let it cool.
- Sprinkle some cocoa nibs over the porridge to garnish. Enjoy your meal!
Recipe # 2: oatmeal pancakes
These oatmeal pancakes are wonderfully airy and, according to many tasters, tastier than ‘normal’ pancakes.
- 200 grams of fine oatmeal
- 200 ml unsweetened almond milk or other vegetable milk
- 1 egg
- Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Half a teaspoon of baking powder
- Half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- A pinch of salt (to taste)
- Put the oatmeal in a blender and grind it for a minute into a fine and homogeneous flour.
- Put the oatmeal in a large bowl and add the baking powder and the cinnamon and mix it together.
- Put the egg, vegetable milk and the vanilla extract in a bowl and mix well.
- Add the wet components to dry components and mix until you have no homogeneous whole. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Melt some grass butter or coconut fat in a frying pan and add half a tablespoon of batter to the pan.
- As soon as bubbles begin to form, you can turn the pancake over to bake the other side until it is nicely golden brown.
Recipe # 3: oatmeal protein powerhouse
This recipe is particularly suitable for (strength) athletes. All your required carbohydrates, proteins and fats in one meal.
Hemp seeds and liquid egg white provide the proteins.
In addition to proteins, the almond paste and hemp seed ensure the healthy fatty acids.
The banana and oatmeal give your body the necessary carbohydrates.
- 50 grams of fine oatmeal
- 200 ml whole milk, vegetable milk or water
- Two tablespoons of hemp seed
- The protein from 1 egg or a dash of ready-made liquid protein from eggs from a bottle
- 1 tablespoon almond paste
- A banana
- Cook the oatmeal in a liquid of your choice according to the preparation time on the package.
- At the end you add the egg white protein and the hemp seed. Stir this until the moisture is absorbed by the oatmeal.
- Garnish your oatmeal porridge with almond paste, banana wedges and possibly other extras such as blueberries, currants, pieces of walnut or cocoa nibs.
Instead of hemp seed, you can also use other protein sources such as whey protein powder, pea protein isolate or brown rice protein. Match the amount of protein to your protein requirement.
For your medium chain fatty acids (Medium Chain Triglycerides) you can possibly stir one or two teaspoons of coconut oil through the warm oatmeal.
Recipe # 4: oatmeal pizza
We want healthy food, unfortunately pizzas don’t really fit into a healthy lifestyle.
The problem is the pizza crust. This is made from flour. These refined carbohydrates cause a huge peak in blood glucose.
By making your own pizza crust from oatmeal, you can occasionally continue to enjoy this, for many, favorite foods.
This is what you need to make your own oatmeal pizza crust:
- 250 grams of fine oatmeal
- 60 grams of mozzarella
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of salt (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
The ingredients for the topping:
- 400 grams of organic chicken thighs
- Cheese such as mozzarella or Parmesan cheese
- 1 red onion
- BBQ sauce or tomato sauce
- A handful of fresh coriander
- Remove the baking plates from the oven and preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Put the mozzarella in a food processor to make fine crumbs.
- Add the oat flakes, salt, garlic powder, oregano and eggs to the food processor. Mix the whole until you have a nice thick dough.
- Place two pieces of baking paper on the baking sheet. Divide the dough into 2 pieces on the baking paper. Wet your hands so that the dough does not stick to your hands. Press the dough flat in the desired thickness for your pizza base (the dough will not rise).
- Bake the pizza bases for 25 minutes in the preheated oven.
- Meanwhile, cut the chicken thighs into strips and fry them in some olive oil until done.
- Clean the onion and cut it finely.
- Cut the coriander into fine pieces.
- Remove the pizzas from the oven and cover with the BBQ sauce and then with chicken thigh strips, the onion and the coriander. Sprinkle your pizza with your favorite cheese and place the pizzas back in the oven until the cheese has melted.
Recipe # 5: gluten-free oatmeal granola
Do you also like to start the day with a granola?
The granolas that are in the supermarket are often pricey and often contain undesirable additives such as corn syrup, palm oil, sunflower oil or gluten-containing grains such as wheat, barley or rye.
Vegetable oils such as sunflower oil contain a high content of omega 6 fatty acids.
For optimum health, the ratio between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids should be 1: 1. Because omega 6 oils are already used in many foods, the ratio is already unfavorable.
With an excess of omega 6 to the detriment of omega 3 there is an increased risk of diseases associated with the metabolic syndrome such as cardiovascular disease ( source).
For this reason, coconut oil is used for this granola.
Moreover, you simply make the tastiest gluten-free granola yourself.
This is what you need:
- 500 grams of coarse oatmeal flakes
- 100 grams of pecans
- 100 grams of currants
- 50 grams of pumpkin seed
- 50 grams of dried cranberries
- 75 ml coconut oil
- 75 ml of honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Put the oatmeal, nuts, seeds, salt and cinnamon in a large baking dish. Mix this well with a spoon.
- Melt the coconut oil in a small pan and pour the liquid coconut oil over the oatmeal dish. Also add the honey and vanilla extract. Mix everything well until all the oatmeal is lightly coated with the oil and honey.
- Place the baking dish in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes until you get a nice golden brown layer. Halfway you can stir the granola so that all oatmeal is well baked.
- First let the granola cool down and cure. After this you can break it into pieces and stir in the currants and cranberries.
Serve the granola with some full-bodied Greek yogurt or a vegetable yogurt or milk of your choice.
You can keep this granola for 2 weeks if you keep it in a lockable box in the refrigerator. You can of course vary the ingredients to your own taste.
Nuts that are tasty and healthy for the granola:
- Cashew nuts
- Brazil nuts
Seeds that are tasty and healthy for the granola:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Flax seeds
- Chia seed
- Hemp seed
Dried fruit which are tasty and responsible for in the granola:
- Goji berries
- Planed coconut
Enjoy your meal!