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DAILY, WE UNDERGO the difficult task of selecting what's for breakfast. Sometimes that means something quick and easy to take with you on-the-go. Sometimes your ravenous and need the full spread. Regardless of what you're hungry for, your breakfast should fulfill a few criteria: it should provide you healthy energy and nutrients to tackle your day.
One option that address both of those things is the simple and versatile oatmeal. It's easy, quick, and has a great deal of health benefits. Plus, with a spoonful of peanut butter, maybe some frozen berries, and possibly a sprinkle of cinnamon—it can taste as good as it is for you.
A solid balance of complex carbs, fiber, there's a lot of reasons to add oatmeal into your day. Susan Schachter, M.S., R.D.N., calls it a “nourishing and versatile breakfast staple,” that can benefit your overall health.
You may have seen oatmeal included in weight loss meal plans. Can this simple, classic breakfast staple be a key to shedding some pounds? It just might be a possibility.
Can Eating Oatmeal Help You Lose Weight?
Oatmeal has been studied for years as a potential ally in the pursuit of weight loss.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, individuals who consumed oatmeal for breakfast ended up staying fuller, longer, when compared to people who had regular breakfast cereal. It was found to reduce hunger and limit caloric intake later in the day.
Another study, published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2016, reported that oatmeal's beta-glucan fiber played a role in promoting feelings of satiety and contributing to weight management. “These findings suggest that incorporating oatmeal into your breakfast routine could potentially support weight loss efforts,” says Schachter.
While the science is promising, there's no miracle food that is going to be the holy grail of weight loss. Adding oatmeal into your diet may be beneficial for weight loss since its fiber content increases satiety, potentially causing you to eat less in a day—but it all comes down to calories in verses calories out. Without a calorie deficit, weight will not change.
3 Benefits of Adding Oatmeal to Your Diet
There are more benefits to oatmeal besides it's potential to help your slim-down efforts. “By incorporating oatmeal into your diet thoughtfully and balancing it with other nutrient-rich foods, you can harness its diverse health benefits,” says Schachter.
Heart Health Support
To protect your ticker, oatmeal is an excellent dietary staple.
“Oatmeal's soluble fiber, particularly beta-glucans, has been associated with lowering LDL cholesterol levels,” says Schachter. “Studies conducted by the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) confirm that consuming soluble fiber-rich foods like oatmeal can help reduce the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol profiles.”
Blood Sugar Regulation
Oatmeal can help with your insulin levels, too.
“The slow-release carbohydrates in oatmeal contribute to steady blood sugar levels, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes," says Schachter. Research from the British Journal of Nutrition shows the complex carbohydrates in oats can help improve insulin sensitivity.
Improve Digestive Health
As Schachter shares, oatmeal’s fiber content supports healthy digestion and may prevent constipation. In fact, dietary fiber in general — found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes — may help keep you regular, lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids, and provide other good-for-your-gut and digestion features.
How to Prepare Oatmeal the Healthy Way
Not all oatmeal is created equal. Getting the most out of its health benefits means preparing it the correct way. Watch for these tips things when prepping your bowl, Schachter’s says.
Opt for plain or unsweetened varieties to avoid added sugars.
Customize your oatmeal with fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, or a drizzle of natural honey for sweetness.
Choose whole rolled oats or steel-cut oats over instant oats, as they are less processed and retain more nutrients.
Be mindful of portion sizes to control calorie intake. A standard serving size is around ½-to-1 cup of cooked oatmeal.
Avoid excessively sugary toppings or sweeteners that can negate the health benefits of oatmeal, pre-made oatmeal packets with additives or high levels of sodium, and instant oatmeal varieties with added flavors and sugars.
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