Of all the common grains, oats are probably by far the best and healthiest. Oats and of course oat flakes are low in gluten and at the same time significantly more nutritious than all other types of grain. So it’s no wonder that oatmeal is one of the most popular foods.
Oats – The youngest but strongest grain
Oats (Avena sativa) form their grains in a multiply branched panicle. So not in one ear like wheat, rye, barley, or spelled. It was probably also oats, the seeds which people often collected in the distant past and integrated into their diet without specifically cultivating them.
Last but not least, the main reason why oats were preferred to be collected over other ancient grains was their outstanding taste. Oats taste by far the best of all types of grain – at least if you want to eat fresh grain muesli, flakes or porridge.
Healthy and fast oat milk
Oat milk (oat drink) is also a very tasty drink. Below you will find the recipe for homemade oat milk. Store-bought oat milk often contains additives (oil, thickeners, flavorings). A good and quick alternative is the organic oat drink powder from Unmilk. It consists of nothing more than delicious gluten-free oats. Simply add a few scoops to a bottle of water – then shake and enjoy! Of course, you can add some vanilla or cinnamon or mix in fruit.
Oats – An original grain
Since oats are not as productive and not as easy to harvest as ear grains, little attention was paid to oats for many thousands of years. That is why oats are the grain that fell victim to human breeding at the very end so that even today they are probably among the most original grass seeds.
While wheat and barley were the focus of breeding activities from the beginning of agriculture more than 10,000 years ago, the breeding of oats only began 3,000 years ago – because the actual value of oats had finally been recognized:
Its resilience, which is why it also thrives on poor soil, and its richness in nutrients, which far exceeds the nutrient and vital substance content of other types of grain, make it so special.
Oats and oatmeal – Even small amounts are enough
Oats are an excellent supplier of nutrients and, in contrast to rice or many other types of grain, provide a large number and interesting amounts of some important nutrients and vital substances even when consumed in small quantities:
Oats and oat flakes for skin, hair & nerves
Just 40 grams of oatmeal already contains 7.8 micrograms of biotin, which corresponds to a quarter of the recommended daily dose. Biotin ensures beautiful hair, healthy skin, and strong nails. In the case of hair loss or brittle nails, it is therefore always best to think about an increased intake of biotin in combination with zinc.
And as luck would have it, or rather oats, this is not only a wonderful source of biotin but also the best source of zinc one could wish for. Oats contain at least as much zinc (4.3 mg) per 100 g as a steak, if not more.
The nervous system also benefits from a good supply of biotin, since a biotin deficiency is even associated with depression.
Oats and oat flakes for strong nerves
40 grams of oats contain 0.3 mg of vitamin B1, which covers a quarter of the daily requirement. No other grain has such a high B1 content as oats. And even among the pseudocereals, there is only amaranth, which can surpass oats in terms of B1 – but only just.
Vitamin B1, together with B6, is THE nerve vitamin par excellence, so that a deficiency can manifest itself in dizziness, insomnia, tiredness, and neurological disorders (e.g. nerve inflammation).
B1 is also involved in the utilization of carbohydrates, which led to sugar being referred to as a vitamin thief. Because B1 is required for its processing, although it does not supply any B1 itself. Oats, on the other hand, give the organism much more B1 than is needed for the utilization of its carbohydrates.
Oats and oat flakes for a balanced psyche
When it comes to vitamin B6, oats – just like vitamin B1 – are way ahead and provide at least twice the amount of vitamin B6 of this vital substance than other grains with almost 1 mg per 100 g.
As mentioned above, vitamin B6 takes care of the nervous system, but also blood health (since it is involved in hemoglobin formation) and serotonin production. The latter means that if you are feeling mentally unwell or have poor sleep, you should always think of B6 or, rather, oats.
A B6 deficiency is not that rare, since it tends to occur with an unbalanced diet, which is often practiced by young people and seniors. Chronic diarrhea is also often associated with a B6 deficiency. Likewise, the pill and some antibiotics can cause a B6 deficiency.
B6 deficiency symptoms include B. also nightmares, an increased tendency to infection or skin changes (e.g. torn corners of the mouth) as well as increased homocysteine levels. The latter is currently among the most serious risk factors for unwanted cardiovascular issues.
Iron in oats and oatmeal: Meat is superfluous there
40 grams of oats also provide 2.4 mg of iron. Here, too, the other grains have a hard time reaching such high values. Only millet and the pseudo-cereals amaranth and quinoa can still beat oats in terms of iron content.
Even meat can hardly trump oats as a source of iron. Oats contain at least twice as much iron as meat. And if you combine an oat dish with a source of vitamin C (such as the muesli below), then the iron from the oats is utilized almost as well as that from meat.
In the case of anemia, it is therefore highly recommended to eat oats or millet instead of other cereals.
Oatmeal – and the magnesium problem is (almost) solved
40 grams of oats or oat flakes contain about 60 milligrams of magnesium. For example, if you eat a fresh-grain oat porridge that consists of the following ingredients, you have already covered half your daily magnesium requirement (300-400 mg):
Recipe: Fresh oat porridge
- 40 grams of oats, finely ground and soaked in water for 20 minutes (do not discard the water); alternatively oat flakes (fresh grain porridge is only available when using oat flakes if they were produced in the flake
- 1 banana, peeled and cut into small pieces
- ½ – 1 apple, finely grated
- 2 dates, pitted and cut into small pieces or raisins or chopped dried apricots
- 20 g sunflower seeds or ground hazelnuts/almonds
After the oatmeal has soaked, mix all the ingredients into a paste. If you prefer to eat the porridge warm, just warm it up slightly. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be cooked, as is the case with typical porridges.
Oats and oat flakes are ideal suppliers of silicon
It can be gathered from many sources that oats and millet contain approximately the same amount of silica and are therefore among the best plant-based sources of silica. However, it is often not mentioned at all that silicon is mainly hidden in the surface layers of the grain kernels.
Since millet has to be peeled in order to be suitable as food, most of the silicon is also removed. Only around 0.36 milligrams of silicon remain in 100 grams of golden millet. In contrast, oats only have to be stripped of their husks, while leaving the silicon-rich grain untouched. With 11 milligrams of silicon per 100 grams, oats and rolled oats are far better sources of silicon than millet.
An exception is a brown millet, which is processed together with the shells into fine flour. Their silicon content is said to be around 500 milligrams. However, only small amounts (about 1 to 4 level tablespoons per day) of brown millet should be eaten.
Silicon is important for skin, nails, hair, and bones
Silicon is an extraordinary substance because it promotes the health of the connective tissue, reduces the risk of cellulite, and makes your skin firm and elastic. Hair and nails also benefit greatly when the body is sufficiently supplied with silicon. However, silicon is also crucial for bone and cartilage health. According to a study at St Thomas’ Hospital in London involving more than 2,847 subjects, eating silicon-rich foods such as oats increases bone mineral density and consequently has a positive effect on bone health.
Silicon reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s
In addition, the organism uses silicon to eliminate aluminum and in this way protects e.g., especially the brain. Aluminum should namely u. involved in the formation of destructive plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
In traditional naturopathy, oats have long been used to treat memory disorders. In the meantime, a number of studies have shown that silicon could be involved in this effect.
Studies by French researchers from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale have shown that a high daily aluminum intake increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline, while increased silicon intake reduces this risk.
Oats and oatmeal provide the best dietary fiber
In addition, 40 grams of oats or oatmeal (depending on the source) contain 2 to 4 grams of fiber, which is a wonderfully balanced mix of half-soluble and half-insoluble fiber. In wheat, rye, barley, and corn, on the other hand, the insoluble fiber predominates. These cereals contain very little soluble dietary fiber.
But while insoluble fiber is more specialized in fighting constipation, soluble fiber can lower blood fat and cholesterol levels, thereby helping prevent heart attacks, atherosclerosis, and gallstones.
Oatmeal: In three days against diabetes and insulin resistance
The soluble fiber in oats (together with its high magnesium content) also regulates the blood sugar level-so impressively well that there are even real oatmeal cures for diabetics or people with insulin resistance.
In the course of this, you consume exceptionally large amounts of oatmeal for three days – which, despite this incredibly short time, can noticeably improve insulin resistance and thus blood sugar levels. (Of course, long-term daily consumption of small amounts of oats would make more sense as part of an overall healthy diet.)
A magnesium dietary supplement alone reduced the risk of diabetes by 19 percent in a US study of 40,000 participants. However, when porridge was consumed regularly, the risk of diabetes was reduced by as much as a third, showing just how much more potent the whole food can be compared to an isolated mineral.
For example, oats also contain so-called saponins. These are phytochemicals that can lower blood sugar levels in the presence of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and increase insulin secretion.
Oats and their beta-glucan
Much of the beneficial soluble fiber in oats mentioned above is called beta-glucan. The beta-glucan supports the activity of special immune cells, the so-called neutrophilic granulocytes. These insulate u. foci of inflammation in the body, so beta-glucan and thus also oats have an anti-inflammatory effect.
However, beta-glucan is also the main reason many people with high cholesterol are advised to eat oat bran.
Oat bran refers to the outer layers of the oat without the endosperm. Of course, oat bran is particularly high in fiber. Specifically, this means that oat bran contains twice as much beta-glucan as oatmeal.
And so 40 g of oat bran provides a beta-glucan amount (3 g) that – when taken daily for three weeks – lowers cholesterol levels by 8 to 23 percent. (Remember to drink plenty of water with the oat bran.)
Incidentally, wheat bran does not have this extremely positive effect on cholesterol levels.
Now, if you consider that a 1% lower cholesterol level equates to a 2% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, just one bowl of oatmeal a day could reduce cardiovascular risk by almost half.
But how does the beta-glucan in oats lower the cholesterol level?
Beta-glucan binds more bile in the intestine. This bile contains a large amount of cholesterol, which — bound to beta-glucan — can now be excreted in the stool instead of re-entering the bloodstream.
Of course, oats only lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. HDL cholesterol, known as “good” cholesterol, remains untouched.
However, oats counteract elevated cholesterol levels in another way – namely via an oat-specific antioxidant called avenanthramide.
Oats and oatmeal contain antioxidants
The effect of grain as a supplier of antioxidants has long been underestimated. There was a very simple reason for this: the researchers used the wrong methods to determine the antioxidant content of the grain.
Scientists at Cornell University in the US found that most of the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are in the free form, but 99 percent are in the bound form in cereals.
Whether the antioxidants are free or bound is completely irrelevant to their effect. However, bound antioxidants cannot be detected using the same methods as free ones. It was therefore believed for a long time that cereals hardly provided any antioxidants.
However, when the grain is processed into white flour, a large part of the antioxidant potential is lost, because 83 percent of the antioxidants are located in the outer layers of the grain, which are removed during processing into fine flour.
dr Rui Hai Liu and his team explain that intestinal bacteria are excellent at dissolving antioxidants from whole grain products and making them available to the organism for utilization. A prerequisite for this is, of course, healthy intestinal flora.
The highly effective antioxidant from the group of polyphenols contained in oats and also in oat flakes is called avenanthramide.
Avenanthramide from oats and oatmeal prevents u. the oxidation of LDL cholesterol – and oxidized cholesterol is known to be THE cholesterol that causes problems and leads to the dreaded deposits in the blood vessel walls.
The protective function of avenanthramide is particularly effective when it is taken together with vitamin C because then it lasts longer. So the breakfast mentioned above is also recommended here, which can of course also be prepared with citrus fruits, which further increases its vitamin C value.
Oatmeal is whole-grain flakes
Of course, all the valuable substances mentioned above are only found in relevant quantities in whole-grain oats. Practically, oat flakes are almost always made from whole grain oats – regardless of whether it is hearty oat flakes, fine oat flakes, or oat flakes for babies.
However, if you For example, if you buy oatmeal, this rarely consists exclusively of oat flakes, but often contains other grains, which are then often added as light flour.
Fresh grain porridge with oats
Of course, oats not only have the oat-specific properties mentioned but also all the other advantages that are generally inherent in whole grain products.
A Harvard study of more than 20,000 participants found that men can reduce their risk of sudden cardiac death by almost a third if they eat whole-grain porridge for a healthy breakfast every day.
And women can reduce their risk of breast cancer with daily fresh grain porridge – as a scientific study from Great Britain with more than 35,000 participants showed – by 40 percent if you eat 13 g or more fiber from grain daily before menopause.
What could be more obvious than to choose oats for this purpose, which after all are one of the tastiest and – as you now know – healthiest grains that we have to choose from, and all that, the oats also contain exceptionally little gluten.
We explained the preparation of a fresh grain porridge above. Of course, you can also prepare the fresh grain porridge with oat flakes that you have made yourself in the flaker. If you’re using store-bought oatmeal, you can do that as well, but it’s no longer “fresh grain” because oatmeal isn’t a fresh grain, it’s been heated.
Coarse or fine oatmeal
Although both the coarse and the fine oat flakes are whole grain products, they obviously differ in their effect on the organism – as a study from 2010 suggests. It showed that the coarse oat flakes can influence the intestinal flora more favorably than the fine oat flakes.
It is assumed that the content of resistant starch in the coarse oat flakes is higher than in the fine oat flakes. Resistant starch is a type of roughage that is used by the intestinal flora as food, i.e. it has a prebiotic effect. After eating coarse oat flakes – according to a corresponding model in the study mentioned above – the number of beneficial bifidobacteria increased more significantly than after eating fine oat flakes.
Gluten in oats and oatmeal?
Oats are not entirely gluten-free, but they are low in gluten, which means that oatmeal is also. Unmistakable proof of its lack of gluten is the fact that you cannot bake bread from pure oatmeal, at least not in the usual form. Because gluten holds the dough together and ensures that it can also rise under the influence of yeast or sourdough. Bread made from oatmeal, however, does not rise and develops at most to a flat red color. However, oat flour can be mixed in amounts of up to 30 percent in bread recipes that contain gluten-containing grains in addition to oats.
Although oats contain small amounts of gluten (but a different form of gluten than wheat), oats are usually much better tolerated by gluten-sensitive people than gluten-rich grains such as wheat, rye, and spelled.
Most likely, even some people with celiac disease can consume oats – of course only in limited quantities (e.g. no more than 50g per day) and only so-called gluten-free oats.
Although gluten-free oats and gluten-free oat flakes contain oat-specific gluten, they are free from contamination from wheat, barley, or spelled thanks to strict cultivation and processing controls.
These “impurities” can then get into the oats if z. B. A wheat field borders directly on an oat field and some wheat grains are also harvested during the oat harvest, or if many different grains are filled and processed in a company, whereby it is always possible that some wheat grains get lost in the oat packaging.
These small amounts of wheat can already be a problem for people with celiac disease, which is why you should definitely pay attention to the oat products declared as “gluten-free” when buying oats and oat flakes. These are guaranteed to contain less than 20 ppm gluten and are therefore in an acceptable range for people with celiac disease.
20 ppm = 2 milligrams of gluten per 100 grams of the food
The results of a scientific study with 116 children suffering from celiac disease also confirm that oats and oatmeal are often tolerated in gluten intolerance.
While half of the children received a classic gluten-free diet for a year, the other group was allowed to consume wheat-free oat products. After the end of the study, the intestinal mucosa and the immune system of all children had fully recovered.
However, everyone with gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity should test for themselves whether and in what amounts they can tolerate oats by starting with minimal amounts of oats (flakes) and carefully observing their body reactions.
How to recognize the best oat quality
Oats come in different qualities. Most people know that oatmeal is heated (see next section). Hardly anyone knows, however, that the grain of oats is almost always sold heated, which is due to the fact that the oats are surrounded by a hard husk that has to be laboriously removed before the oats can be eaten. In order to facilitate the peeling process, the oats are first heated and thus lose their vitality and ability to germinate.
Only the so-called naked oats, which you can buy in organic shops, are not heated because this type of oat does not have to be peeled.
This is how oatmeal tastes best
If you would also like to benefit from the health-promoting effects of oats, you will find tips and recipes here:
- Make oatmeal for breakfast. You can refine this with your favorite fruit and nuts. Porridge can be made from raw but soaked oatmeal in the manner described above, or it can be made from rolled oats. The porridge can be eaten cold, slightly warmed up, or cooked as a porridge.
- Conventional oat flakes are ALWAYS heated and are therefore no longer available in raw food quality. However, for all those who value this quality feature, there are now raw oat flakes made from pre-germinated oats. The germination process makes the oat flakes more digestible and increases the bioavailability of their valuable ingredients.
- If you want to prepare an original porridge, the oat flakes are simmered with four to ten times the amount of water or rice milk (depending on personal preference) for a maximum of three minutes, stirring frequently. Add a pinch of salt at the last minute.
- Normally, porridge is cooked longer, but the ingredients of the oats should still be largely retained after a three-minute cooking time. The porridge can now be refined with fruit, dried fruit, honey, or other sweeteners and spices such as cinnamon, vanilla, or gingerbread spice.
- Bake oatmeal cookies and use a part of oat flour or oat flakes instead of wheat or spelled flour for cakes and biscuits.
Prepare oat milk yourself
Oat milk is a plant-based alternative to cow’s milk. It can be prepared at home with a few ingredients: oats, dates, some oil, and salt. The oats are pureed together with the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
The result is a creamy, nutritious drink that can be poured over cereal, used as an ingredient in smoothies, or added to coffee for an extra protein boost.
Oat milk is also a great alternative for people who are lactose intolerant or who are looking for vegan alternatives to traditional dairy products.