Oatmeal Nutrition: Protein

Oatmeal serves as an excellent source of fiber and protein without a lot of sodium, making it a good choice for breakfast or a midday snack. It is also a source of whole grains, which reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases and aid in maintaining a healthy weight. Add more protein to your diet by enjoying oatmeal with your favorite fruits or spices.

A bowl of oatmeal with peach slices (Image: Lesyy/iStock/Getty Images)

Oatmeal Protein Content

Oats have more protein than any other common grain, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension website. A 1/2-cup serving of old-fashioned oatmeal has 5 grams of protein, while a packet of instant oatmeal has 3 grams of protein. If you want to increase the protein content of your oatmeal, make it with milk. Adding 1/4 cup of milk will give you an extra 2 grams of protein.

Creating a High-Protein Meal

Build a high-protein meal by starting with a bowl of oatmeal and adding other low-fat, low-calorie foods with protein. Pair a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal with an omelet, or make a quick meal by preparing a packet of instant oatmeal and eating it with a hard-boiled egg. Add extra protein to your oatmeal by adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed or topping it with your favorite seeds or nuts.

Oatmeal vs. Other Protein Sources

Although oatmeal is not a complete protein, or a protein that contains all nine essential amino acids, it is a higher-quality protein than some grain-based foods. Oatmeal has an amino acid score of 86, but rice cereal and wheat cereal have scores of 75 and 77, respectively. The higher the amino acid score, the higher the quality of the protein. Milk has a protein score of 95, so round out your meal with a glass of milk or make your oatmeal with milk instead of water.

Oatmeal Substitutions

The protein content of oatmeal makes it an ideal substitute for high-protein foods with more fat, sodium and cholesterol. Instead of two pork-sausage links, have a 1/2 cup of old-fashioned oatmeal and 4 ounces of reduced-fat milk. This combination has 5.4 grams of fat, 72 milligrams of sodium and 10 milligrams of cholesterol instead of 17 grams of fat, 387 milligrams of sodium and 34 milligrams of cholesterol in sausage. Even instant oatmeal is a better choice than a fast-food breakfast if you are in a hurry. One packet of instant oatmeal has 1.5 grams of fat, 170 milligrams of sodium and no cholesterol. A fast-food breakfast sandwich made with a biscuit, scrambled egg, cheese and bacon has 26 grams of fat, 1,300 milligrams of sodium and 250 milligrams of cholesterol.

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