Oatmeal being a part of a healthy and balanced diet is an open secret for most of us. But it seems that out of all the healthy whole grains out there, oatmeal appears to be one of the most diverse because there are different types of oats to choose from, such as old-fashioned rolled oats, steel-cut oats, and whole oat groats. Which is why some of you may ask, which kind of oatmeal is the most nutritious? And does it really make a good and healthy snack?
Is Oatmeal Healthy?
According to experts, oatmeal is a nutritious and delicious whole grain that can be eaten at any time of day. It is a good source of protein and soluble fiber as well as a high micronutrient content. If you are looking for an easy-to-prepare meal, then oatmeal is a great choice.
Benefits of Oatmeal
Now that we know that oatmeal is really a healthy choice, we’re going to talk about what makes it nutritious. For starters, oats are a good source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Oatmeal helps decrease the risk of disease – Oats contain many bioactive phytonutrients such as avenanthramides and polyphenols. Increased intake of these said phytonutrients can help reduce your risk of developing degenerative and chronic diseases.
- Oatmeal can help suppress appetite and control blood sugar – As we mentioned, oatmeal is an excellent source of fiber which helps support your gut health and make you feel full for longer. Oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, and when you consume oats, it forms a viscous gel in your intestines and helps slow down your body’s absorption of glucose, lower LDL cholesterol, increase satiety, control blood sugar, as well as suppress your appetite.
- Oatmeal helps with metabolism – Oatmeal is packed with several B vitamins such as B-9, B-1, B-3, B-2, and B-6. These vitamins support muscle function, brain health, as well as your energy levels. B-vitamins are also crucial to your metabolism because it helps your body digest proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids more appropriately.
Types of Oats
There are two main types of oats, and these are steel-cut oats and rolled oats. The difference between the two is how they’re manufactured. Both of the types start as whole oats from which the outer layer is stripped, leaving the endosperm, fiber-rich brand, and the germ. These parts contain all of the antioxidants, minerals, as well as healthy oils. From there, the oats are either steel-cut or rolled.
Rolled oats are made by steaming the whole grains and pressing them flat with steel rollers. This process helps shorten the cooking time of the oats. There are three kinds of rolled oats that are available in the market, and these are:
- Quick-cooking oats – This type of rolled oats are cooked, dried, and cut before being rolled thin for faster cooking.
- Old-fashioned oats – When it comes to making old-fashioned oats, the whole grains are steamed before they are flattened by roller and flaked. Most of us enjoy them as oatmeal or as an addition to baked goods such as cookies. But old-fashioned oats are also perfect for coating meats. Compared to the other types of rolled oats, old-fashioned oats have the most texture.
- Instant oats – This type of rolled oats is cooked and dried before they are cut and rolled thin. This is the fastest to prepare oatmeal though they can be mushy or gummy sometimes.
On the other hand, steel-cut oats or also known as Scottish oats, aren’t rolled. They are cut into coarse nubs by steel blades which makes them look like cut-up grains of rice. Steel-cut oats are less processed compared to rolled oats. However, this type of oat takes longer to cook than rolled oats and has a chewier texture. As we mentioned, steel-cut oats go through less process, which means they are a little more nutritious than rolled oats. Steel-cut oats are also an excellent addition to stews, soups, stuffing, and meatloaves because they absorb less water compared to rolled oats.
Nutritional Content of the Different Types of Oats
Serving Size (dry)
32g (⅓ cup)
48g (½ cup)
44g (¼ cup)
46g (¼ cup)
What is the Most Nutritious Type of Oatmeal?
Frankly, all oats, regardless of their type, are healthy for you. They are all good sources of fiber and plant-based protein. The nutrition only slightly differs between each kind of oat, which means that the type of oat you prefer to consume is entirely up to you. If you want your oats to have a chewy consistency with a sweet and nutty taste, then we suggest that you give steel-cut oats a try. If you’re the type of person who likes their oatmeal smooth and creamy, then instant oats are the perfect oatmeal for you. Not only that, instant oats are easy to prepare, which makes them ideal for a healthy breakfast or an energizing snack.
When choosing oatmeal, always check the ingredient list, no matter what type of oats it is. You have to make sure that the oatmeal you’re purchasing contains whole-grain oats. You also have to be mindful of flavored oatmeal because they tend to have extra sugar, sodium, as well as artificial ingredients. This is why we suggest that you opt for the plain instant oatmeal and top it up with sweet or savory toppings such as bananas, strawberries, Greek yogurt, almond butter, a fried egg, or sliced avocado.