Summer may have you happily sipping on smoothies in the A.M., but cooler months call for something a bit cozier. Sure, oatmeal fits the bill (or, er, bowl), but let’s face it: it does have a reputation for being a bit…dull.
For the record, the rep is undeserved as there are plenty of ways to spice up your oatmeal bowl—including with yes, actual spices. “There are so many flavor combinations you can enjoy,” says RSP Nutrition consultant Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD. You can make it savory, sweet, or both—depending on what you mix in. (There’s some killer ideas coming up, so keep reading.)
And, of course, yes, it’s loaded with benefits. Rounded up here are eight big ones, so keep reading to see what exactly makes oatmeal a healthy breakfast win, plus tips on making a yum-inducing bowl.
Scroll down to see the health benefits of oatmeal.
8 health benefits of oatmeal
1. Keeps things moving, digestively speaking: You probably already know that fiber is essential for keeping your gut health in check. But the benefits don’t stop at keeping things, er, moving. The nutrient can also help lower inflammation, rev your metabolism, and contribute to overall good health.
“Oatmeal has a decent amount of fiber, about four grams per one cup cooked.” Moreno says, adding that four grams is solid, considering that according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 20 to 25 grams per fiber a day is what your body wants.
“It also has a special fiber called beta-glucan which has been implicated in lowering cholesterol,” says Moreno. Beta glucan has been found to lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, and increase feelings of fullness.
2. Supports weight loss: Oatmeal is packed with nutrients—including five grams of protein—but it only has about 150 calories per serving. In other words, it’s a major nutrient-dense win.
3. Lowers blood pressure: The beta-glucan in oats work in favor of blood pressure, by helping to reduce cholesterol. Oats also have antioxidants which work with vitamin C in the body to prevent “LDL oxidation,” helping protect against free radicals. So go ahead, sip on OJ with your oats.
5. Being a powerhouse of nutrients: Oatmeal is nutrient-dense with iron, zinc, selenium, and magnesium. So while it may not qualify as a full-blown superfood, it’s more nutritious than most morning meals.
6. Rich in antioxidants: Whole oats are high in antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols, which can help boost your heart, brain, and digestion. Most notable is a unique group of antioxidants called avenanthramides—which are almost solely found in oats—and may help lower blood pressure.
7. Good for your skin: Oats and oatmeal offers an arsenal of skin benefits. For one, oats contains vitamin E, zinc, and silica—a killer combo for strong, eczema-free skin. When applied topically, oats can help reduce itch and irritation. Time to add Jonathan Van Ness’s, very easy-to-DIY face mask with oatmeal (and Manuka honey) to your skincare routine.
8. Immune protection: The beta-gluten fiber has been shown to help neutrophils—which function as the body’s armor—travel to the site of an infection more quickly and fight off bacteria found there.
Put all these perks together and you’ve got a lot of bang for your bowl.
Here’s how the make the yourself the ultimate bowl of oats:
“Part of oatmeal’s appeal is how many different ways you can make it—and how many other protein-packed ingredients you can add to it,” says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., certified yoga instructor and owner of Keri Gans Nutrition. (She loves oatmeal so much that she has it for breakfast every single day.) “It’s basically a healthy vehicle for other healthy foods.”
In case you need a refresher on how to make instant oatmeal, here’s how: In the microwave, add oats to a liquid (like water, milk, or macadamia milk) in a ratio of 1:2. Microwave on high for 60 to 90 seconds. To make it on the stove, bring your liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and stir in oats. Stir for one minute, and allow oats to cool for two minutes. That’s your blank canvas.
Then, you can opt to make a sweet or savory version, based on the toppings and add-ins. Miso, scallions, and sesame oil make a savory, gut-approved dish, while maple chia overnight oatmeal with almond butter makes a killer sweet morning treat. The combos are limitless, but Moreno recommends adding at least one protein (like protein powder, yogurt, cottage cheese, egg, or dairy milk) and one fat (like nut better, nuts, avocado, or butter) for a well-rounded meal.
Because oatmeal is so healthy, you can try a new combo every morning (or night!) knowing that you’re giving your body a health-boost. And when you run out combos, try this macadamia milk porridge with blueberry lemon jam.
Blueberry Lemon Syrup
2 cups frozen blueberries, rinsed under warm water
Zest of 1 small lemon
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1. On low-heat, cook the buckwheat or oats with the nut milk for about five to ten minutes, until done.
2. As this is cooking, heat the blueberries and lemon on medium until it starts to bubble, about five minutes.
3. Stir in the chia seeds and let sit for about five minutes.
4. Top the warm jam onto your porridge and enjoy!
Originally published October 5, 2018. Updated June 25, 2020.
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