Oatmeal is full of fiber, giving you 2 grams per 1/2-cup cooked serving. Plus it's full of B vitamins, which support healthy metabolism; calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, to keep your bones strong; and even a little iron, a mineral that improves oxygen transportation. That nutrient portfolio makes oatmeal a food you'll want to eat regularly. Don't go overboard on your recommended portions, though. Too much oatmeal could be problematic.
Single Portion Size
One serving of oatmeal is generally 1/2 cup of cooked oats, which amounts to a 1-ounce equivalent from the grain group. If you're just making a single serving, though, it might be easier for you to measure out the dry portion of oats. In this case, to reach that 1-ounce equivalent mark, one serving is of dry oats is 1 ounce in weight. This is about one-third of a cup or one instant oatmeal packet. Be wary, though. Flavored instant varieties can be high in added sugar.
Grain Recommendations Based on Gender
As a woman, your recommendation from the grain group stays relatively constant. Adult women ages 19 to 50 should have 6 ounce equivalents of grains daily. After age 50, women can have 5 ounce equivalents per day. You can have more servings from the grain group if you are a man, since men typically require more calories. Between 19 and 30 years of age, aim for eight ounce equivalents, which decreases slightly to 7 ounce equivalents, after age 30. After age 50, you're allotted 6 ounces or equivalents from this food group daily, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Oatmeal Servings per Day
You could just eat lots of oatmeal every day to meet your daily grain recommendation. But that's probably not ideal. Sticking to just one type of food from a particular food group means that you might be missing out on vitamins, minerals, protein and even healthy fats that other grains have to offer. Enjoy oatmeal as one -- maybe even two -- of your daily grain servings. Then switch it up and enjoy brown rice or whole-grain bread, to get the rest of your grain servings.
Eating Too Much
While oatmeal is incredibly healthy for you, don't overdo it. You'll be getting a lot of fiber from your hot cereal dish, which can interrupt digestion if you're not used to it. If you start getting gassy, have stomach cramps, find it difficult to pass a stool or start having diarrhea, you know you probably went overboard on your fiber intake. Cut your serving in half the next time you have oatmeal. Every few days you can continue to eat a little more until you have a full serving or two, as long as you don't have any gastrointestinal side effects.
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as an Ounce Equivalent of Grains?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Many Grain Foods Are Needed Daily?
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Cereals, Oats, Regular and Quick, Unenriched, Cooked With Water (Includes Boiling and Microwaving), without Salt
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber