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Is Oatmeal a Healthy Breakfast?

by
author image Ann Jensen
Ann Jensen is a registered dietitian with experience in nutrition education and counseling. She has written numerous nutrition education, weight loss and fitness articles for various publications.
Is Oatmeal a Healthy Breakfast?
Oatmeal with blueberries Photo Credit Sally Scott/iStock/Getty Images

Breakfast ensures that you start off your day right. Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast option because it is filling, contains many essential vitamins and minerals and is high in soluble fiber. In addition, whole-grain oatmeal is heart-healthy and may help to lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Not only is oatmeal a nutritious breakfast choice, but it is also easy, quick and delicious.

Nutrient Lineup

Rolled oats are packed with essential vitamins and minerals and are naturally low in fat, sugar and sodium. A 1-cup cooked serving of quick-cooking plain oatmeal contains 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, both of which will help to fill you up and keep you satisfied all morning long. That 4 grams of fiber provides you with 15 percent of your daily fiber needs. In addition, oatmeal contains B vitamins, calcium, potassium, iron, selenium, copper, zinc and magnesium.

Cholesterol Control

The type of fiber found in oatmeal is called soluble fiber, which offers protection against heart disease as it helps to lower the low-density lipoprotein type of cholesterol in the body. The soluble fiber found in oats works by binding cholesterol in the digestive tract and eliminating it from the body. The evidence linking oats to heart health and cholesterol reduction is so strong that the Food and Drug Administration has allowed oat products to carry a health claim. The statement "3g of soluble fiber daily from oatmeal, in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease" can appear on oatmeal packaging.

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Blood Sugar Control

Just as oatmeal provides benefits to those with high cholesterol, oatmeal is a healthy choice for those with diabetes. Because cooked oatmeal is digested slowly, it can help control blood sugar levels and allow a gradual insulin response in those with insulin sensitivity.

Types of Oatmeal

Oatmeal is available in a few different forms, which is important because some types may not be as nutritious as others. The different kinds include old-fashioned oats, quick-cooking oats and instant oatmeal varieties. Old-fashioned and quick-cooking oats are both plain and do not include added flavors, salt or sugar. Old-fashioned oats take longer to cook and offer a sturdier texture than the quick-cooking oats, yet both varieties contain the same nutritional benefits. The instant oatmeal varieties come in single-serving packets and may include added flavors, sugar and salt. To cut back on added sugar and salt, you can season old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats on your own by adding sliced or dried fruit or seasoning like cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice.

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References

Demand Media