Is Eating Uncooked Oatmeal Healthy?

If you like your oatmeal raw, don't worry. It is perfectly fine to eat uncooked oatmeal. You may want to adjust your serving size to keep the calories in check and soak the oatmeal a bit ahead of time -- or at least having some liquid at the same time -- to limit potential adverse effects from the fiber and phytates in the oatmeal.

A spoon filled with uncooked oatmeal. (Image: Piotr Malczyk/iStock/Getty Images)

Calories and Macronutrients

Oats expand as they're cooked in liquid. If you eat cooked oatmeal, a cup will have 166 calories, about 6 grams of protein, not quite 4 grams of fat and 28 grams of carbohydrates. This includes 4 grams of fiber, or 16 percent of the daily value. Eat a cup of uncooked oats, however, and you'll be getting 307 calories, almost 11 grams of protein, a little more than 5 grams of fat and almost 55 grams of carbohydrates. This includes more than 8 grams of fiber, or 33 percent of the DV. Mixing a 1/2-cup serving of uncooked oats with other foods, such as yogurt and fruit, will give you a more balanced breakfast while providing a reasonable level of calories.

Vitamins and Minerals

A 1/2-cup serving of uncooked oats provides 74 percent of the DV for manganese and at least 10 percent of the DV for thiamine, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. Thiamine helps turn the food you eat into energy, and iron helps form red blood cells and carry oxygen throughout your body. Selenium and manganese act as antioxidants to limit damage to your cells, and you need magnesium, zinc and phosphorus for forming DNA.

Potential Health Benefits

Oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan. This fiber may help lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels and decrease your risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes, according to a review article published in "Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety" in July 2012.

Ways to Use Raw Oats

You probably don't want to eat raw oats dry, as this could cause two potential issues. First, you need to increase the amount of liquids you drink as you increase your fiber intake to help you avoid potential gastrointestinal issues like gas and bloating. This can be as simple as pouring milk over your uncooked oats and eating them like muesli or blending these oats into a smoothie. Second, oats contain a substance called phytate, but the processing they undergo destroys the enzyme needed to break it down. Phytate can bind with some of the minerals in your oats, making it so you can't absorb them. Soaking your oats, as people do when they make overnight oats -- oats soaked in a mix of milk and fruit -- can help decrease the amount of phytate and keep more of the minerals available for absorption.

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