How To Recognize The Quality When Buying Oats

Valuable vitamins and minerals are only retained to a large extent in oats or oat flakes if they are not heated.

Buy oats – pay attention to quality

As with any food, you should also pay attention to good quality when buying oats. Oats are considered a good source of protein, an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, and are also one of the grains that are often tolerated by people sensitive to gluten – at least up to a certain amount. Since oats also taste very good, they are one of the most popular grain products of our time in the form of oat flakes.

Oatmeal is always heated

Hardly anyone is surprised that oatmeal is always heated (to at least 70 degrees). Finally, the flakes would otherwise spoil quickly. Because oats are high-fat grains, the flakes would quickly become rancid. Wheat, spelled, and barley each have a fat content of only 2.5 percent, rye only 1.6 percent, while oats have over 7 percent – a huge difference.

In the case of some B vitamins in particular, however, there are serious losses as a result of the heating or processing of grain into flakes. The vitamin B3 content falls by more than half, and the vitamin B6 content in the oat flakes is only a sixth of that in whole oats. The iron and zinc content is also slightly lower in oat flakes than in the whole oat grain.

The oat grain is also heated

But why the HaferKORN is also heated is not entirely clear at first glance. After all, neither wheat nor rye nor barley nor any other grain is heated before they are sold. The oats do, but not every oat.

There are two types of oats: spelled oats and naked oats. Spelled oats are much more widespread than naked oats. Because it is easier to grow and produces higher yields. It is not so susceptible to fungal diseases, since its grains are surrounded by a protective husk, even fused with it. In the case of naked oats, on the other hand, the grains can be separated from their husks simply by threshing. With this property, it is more similar to wild oats – and just like them, it also occurs more frequently in the wild.

Spelled oats are heated, naked oats are not

However, the husk advantage in cultivation is a disadvantage in processing. The husks are very hard, which is why unpeeled oat husks cannot be eaten by humans. Therefore, the oat grain must first be laboriously shelled before it can be processed into flakes, groats, or flour.

In order to facilitate the peeling process, the spelled oats are first kilned, which means that they are pre-treated at around 80 to 90 degrees – both in conventional and organic oat production. Of course, such grain is no longer capable of germinating, which anyone who wants to grow oat sprouts or oat grass will notice. It does not work.

However, heating the oat grain should not only make peeling easier but also have other advantages. For example, one wants to achieve a better degree of drying of the oat grain. Because the grain moisture must not be more than 14 percent. Otherwise, the grain could start to mold during storage.

Since the outer layers of the grain and the high-fat germ are damaged during peeling, the high-fat content of oats can also lead to fatty acids spoiling more easily. However, heating inactivates the fat-splitting enzymes in the oat grain so that the oat fat does not go rancid. Incidentally, oat fat has a very balanced fatty acid ratio (2:2:1, polyunsaturated: monounsaturated: saturated fatty acids).

Bitter substances are removed

Another argument for heating is the taste, which would be nuttier as a result, but it could also be that you just want to make the technically necessary heating process palatable to the consumer because experience has shown that homemade flakes from unheated oats also taste wonderful.

However, if you cook unheated oats, they would taste bitter, according to the oat manufacturers. That would be understandable since naked oats naturally contain more bitter substances than spelled oats.

However, since the naked oats are processed into fresh grain muesli anyway (this is raw, so it is not heated), this point is not relevant for most whole foods. It should also be considered that bitter substances have a high health-promoting potential. However, the food industry is doing everything it can to remove bitter substances from food, be it from salads, green leafy vegetables, cabbage, or grains. Many people therefore now turn to bitter substance preparations as a dietary supplement to compensate for the usual lack of bitter substances.

If you want to cook the oats, you can of course easily use “normal” oats for cooking recipes, since raw food quality is not required here.

Buying oats – what to look out for

If you want to buy oats and value unheated oats, then pay attention to the product descriptions of the respective manufacturers.

(Spelt) oats are the heated/kiln-dried oats

You can recognize heated oats by the following signs: e.g. B. if the package says “oats peeled” or “oats dehusked” or it is noted that the respective oats are no longer germinable. In some cases, it is explicitly stated that it has been heated, steamed, or kilned – at least in transparent organic specialist shops. The term “spelled oats”, on the other hand, is hardly ever used.

Incidentally, the term “unpeeled” is not synonymous with naked oats. It is true that naked oats are basically unpeeled because they originally have husks that cannot be peeled in the first place. However, “unhulled oats” could also be unhulled spelled oats that still have their husks and z. B. is offered in the feed trade for birds, but not in the food trade. It is therefore by no means worthwhile to make a supposed bargain in the zoo shop and to purchase larger quantities of the corresponding cheap oats, which some bargain hunters have already done and were severely disappointed afterward.

In the conventional supermarket, one is much more economical with information than in the organic trade. Often there is only an “out” on the package. Here one can assume with almost 100% certainty that it is NOT naked oat, especially since this would also be more expensive than the shelled spelled out and it would therefore also be advertised accordingly.

Naked oats are the unheated oats

In the organic trade, therefore, in most cases, “naked oat” is written on the label where there is naked oat in it. Also “germinable oats” or “oats in raw food quality” would indicate that the oats are not heated and therefore naked oats. The naked oat from Donath Mühle has even been given the manufacturer’s own designation “sprout oat”, which indicates a high germination capacity of 90 percent. Many other manufacturers state this as “only” 80 percent.

Nevertheless, it may be that the naked oat germinates poorly if you want to grow oat sprouts or oat grass from it. This in turn does not necessarily have to be due to the quality of the oats, but can also be due to the nature of the oats. Because oats are cold germs and are sometimes also referred to as dark germs, they first need a cold period so that they can germinate (put in the freezer for a few days/weeks). If it still doesn’t germinate under normal germination conditions, it might be useful to try to keep it dark or, if you want to sow it outdoors, to rake it in a bit.

Oat bran and oatmeal

In addition to oats and oat flakes, there are other oat products on the market. The oat bran should not be confused with the husks. Rather, it is the germ and the outer layers (which envelop the grain under the husk). Oat bran is sold as a source of fiber because it contains large amounts of the soluble fiber beta-glucan. You take the oat bran – e.g. B. 1 tbsp daily – especially to promote digestion, to lower cholesterol levels, or to accompany weight loss because it has a satiating effect. Remember: As with all fiber, you should drink plenty of water (1 200 ml glass of water per teaspoon) when taking oat bran.

The coarsely crushed oat grain is called oat groats. There are coarse, medium, and fine groats. Depending on the degree of fineness, the groats are simmered in vegetable stock or water for 5 to 20 minutes and then swell on the switched-off stove for another 20 to 30 minutes. It can be added to soups or stews, but also served as a savory side dish or sweet – similar to porridge – for breakfast. Since groats are cooked, they are usually made from spelled oats.

Gluten-free oat powder for oat milk

Alongside almond milk and rice milk, oat milk is probably the best plant-based milk. It can be used for cooking, baking, and desserts. But oat milk also tastes delicious on its own or in a shake. Store-bought oat milk often contains oils, thickeners, and flavorings. If you would rather have pure oat milk but don’t want to go through the hassle of making it yourself or simply don’t have the time, there is a very simple solution:

The organic oat drink powder from Unmilk. It consists only of gluten-free oats, nothing else. Put a few measuring spoons in a bottle of water, shake the bottle – and the oat milk is ready.

Conclusion: When buying oats, pay attention to the right quality!

When buying oats, it depends on your own diet and therefore on your personal quality criteria. If you grind oats at home for your fresh grain porridge or make oat flakes yourself and value raw food quality, then make sure to buy naked oats. Only this is untreated and has the full content of all vital substances of the living oat grain. However, always grind/flake the oats just before eating. Otherwise, it would quickly go rancid and spoil.

However, there are now oat flakes in raw food quality on the market from special manufacturers (e.g. Govinda). The oats are even sprouted before they are crushed into flakes, which increases the bioavailability of the vital substances they contain and also the alkaline potential of the flakes.

If you want to buy naked oats from a mill where the oats are sold open, ask what kind of oats they are.

If you want to prepare a warm meal from oats, you can also use the usually spelled oats.

Do not store naked oats in your home for too long, as they have a shorter shelf life than thermally stabilized spelled oats. However, it will keep for a few months if stored in a dry and dark place.

Always buy organic oats and oat products. Tests in recent years have shown (e.g. ÖKO-Test 2015) that pesticide residues can be found in almost all conventional oat products. Remnants of the controversial herbicide glyphosate are also regularly found.

Also, be careful not to buy oat products that come in cardboard or paper overwraps. Otherwise, aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH) or saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH), which are considered carcinogenic even in small quantities, could migrate from the packaging into the food.

Although these substances have already been detected in plastic packaging (they are abbreviated to POSH), they are much less frequent than in the case of paper/cardboard packaging. So even if the latter is more environmentally friendly and the oatmeal is protected from light, there can be health disadvantages here.

In any case, we recommend contacting the manufacturer of your favorite oatmeal. This is the only way you can determine whether measures have been taken to prevent contamination with mineral oil residues.

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Written by Micah Stanley

Hi, I'm Micah. I am a creative Expert Freelance Dietitian Nutritionist with years of experience in counseling, recipe creation, nutrition, and content writing, product development.

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