Refined grains are “enriched” when manufacturers add certain vitamins and minerals, and the term for whole grains with extra vitamins and minerals is “fortified,” according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To qualify as fortified, whole grains, including oatmeal, must have specific nutrients in them. Oatmeal can be a nutritious food for breakfast or as a snack later in the day.
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A 1-oz., or 28-g, packet of instant, plain fortified oatmeal has 105 calories and 3.5 g protein, or about 7 percent of the daily value for protein. It has less than 2 g total fat, including less than 0.5 g saturated fat, which raises unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels in your blood. Oatmeal has 19 g total carbohydrates and nearly 3 g dietary fiber, or 12 percent of the daily value. Oats have no cholesterol. These values are nearly identical to the values in non-fortified oatmeal.
Vitamins and Minerals
Fortified oatmeal has 0.5 mg thiamin, or 1/3 of the daily value, 0.3 mg riboflavin, or about 20 percent of the daily value, and 4.6 mg niacin, or nearly 1/2 of the daily value. The amounts of these B vitamins are much higher than in non-fortified oatmeal. Fortified oatmeal is also high in folic acid, vitamin A and iron, compared to non-fortified oats. Micronutrient-fortified oatmeal has 99 mg calcium, compared to 14 mg in regular oatmeal.
Oatmeal and Whole Grains
Oatmeal is a whole grain, which means that it contains the bran, germ and endosperm components of the entire grain kernel. Your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes may decrease when you choose whole grains instead of refined grains, such as white bread, rice, crackers and pasta, or refined cereals, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other examples of whole grains are whole-wheat bread and pasta, bulgur, pearled barley, brown rice and popcorn.
Varieties of fortified instant oatmeal include plain and flavored, such as raisins and spice or cinnamon and spice. A packet of sugar-sweetened flavored oatmeal weighs 43 g, or about 1-1/2 oz., and it has 15 g sugars, compared to less than 1 g in plain oatmeal. To make your meal or snack more balanced when you eat fortified oatmeal, have some fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt with it. Remember to count the extra calories and other nutrients if you make your oatmeal with milk instead of water.