Oat flakes, described by Grain Millers Inc. as oat grains that have been kiln-dried, steamed and flattened, are nutritious, versatile components not only of cereals but also of whole grain breads, muffins and other baked goods. Often marketed as old fashioned oats, oat flakes contribute important protein, vitamins and other nutrients that support good health.
Basics of Oat Nutrition
Whether regular, thick, quick or baby, oat flakes have consistently high nutritional values, with protein content rivaling that of soybeans, milk and eggs, per statements by Andy's Market based on World Health Organization documentation. For only 125 to 150 calories per quarter cup dry oat flakes, the USDA lists 6.6 g protein, 25.8 g carbohydrate, 4.1 g fiber and 2.7 g fat, making oats an ideal low-calorie diet option. Oats' slow-release carbohydrates stabilize blood glucose levels, and its soluble fiber helps decrease low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, in your blood.
Oat cereal is the only source of avenalins, specialized legume-like proteins or globulins. Globulins are characterized by their water solubility and account for oat cereal's major role in gastrointestinal water absorption and digestive health. Andy's Market states that the oat grain's protein concentration, at 12 to 24 percent, ranks highest among all cereal grains, and that oat flakes are low in gluten, a protein prevalent in wheat that cannot be digested by people with celiac disease.
Oat flakes contain oat bran, the source of oat fiber, a revelatory substance that has gained prominence as a cholesterol fighter. This soluble fiber is called beta-glucan, and the USDA states that only 3 g daily can help lower LDL cholesterol and combat heart disease. Saponins are oat fiber extracts that behave like soap -- "sapon" is the root for "soap" -- and act as emulsifiers on these same harmful LDLs, according to the medical definition on Your Dictionary.
Oats have more fat than most grains, second only to corn. However, its fats are predominantly heart-healthy polyunstaturates and monounsaturates that also ensure transport of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Charting the lipids breakdown per 1 cup of oats, USDA lists oats' fats as 3.955 g polyunsaturated, 3.398 monounsaturated, and only 1.899 saturated. Saturated fat, like trans fat, hastens arterial plaque deposits and other markers of heart disease such as arteriosclerosis, according to the American Heart Association.
Vitamins and Minerals
Per USDA's chart, 1 cup of oat flakes' mineral content includes 7.36 mg iron, 7.669 mg manganese, and 6.19 mg zinc. Its vitamin content includes 2.104 mg pantothenic acid, 1.499 mg niacin, 1.190 mg thiamin and 0.186 mg vitamin B-6. The National Institutes of Health describe pantothenic acid, or vitamin B-5, as essential to normal metabolism and growth, with infants requiring 1.7 to 2 mg daily, and teens and adults requiring 4 to 5 mg. Niacin, or vitamin B-3, assists your body in utilizing food energy. These nutrients, housed in the oat kernel's fiber and germ, plus the health-supporting compounds described above, contribute to oat flakes' stature among the most nutritious of all cereals.