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Oats – A Good Source of Complex Carbs

There are 3 macro nutrients that make up your breakfast bowl, dinner plate etc. fat, protein and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a major macronutrient as they’re your body’s preferred and primary sources of energy. Because of this, you should never avoid eating carbohydrates, instead you should think about the types of carbohydrates your are eating, as this can make a huge difference to your health. Simply put, complex carbohydrates are a much preferred source for your body over simple carbohydrates, But what makes them special, and how are they beneficial for your health?

Carbohydrates are made up of three components: fibre, starch, and sugar.

Fibre and starch are complex carbs, while sugar is a simple carb. Depending on how much and the ratio of each of these is found in a food determines its nutrient quality.

As mentioned there are two types of carbs: simple and complex. “Simple” carbs due to their composition are more easily digested by the body and can be found in fruits and dairy. Simple carbs are also found in processed, refined foods like sugar, pasta, and white bread. In comparison “complex” carbs take longer for the body to break down and are found in oats, vegetables, whole-grain pasta and bread, brown rice, and legumes.

Imagine a wave, the simpler the carbohydrate the higher the wave becomes, and the time it takes to hit its peak is reduced. That wave is your blood sugar level. With simple sugars, you may feel good, sometimes energetic. This is because your blood sugar wave is really high, however, what goes up must come down. To compensate for the wave getting high so quickly the body over compensates, insulin is released bringing the wave crashing down. This is where feeling lethargic and struggling to stay awake overtake. But this action isn’t helpful for sustaining energy levels and even for loosing weight, as it often makes you hungry again.

The comparison with a complex carbohydrate is that the wave builds slowly, once it hits its peak it just naturally falls again as the body doesn’t over react, meaning you have more energy, for longer, and don’t crash. This brings many positives like feeling fuller for longer and more sustained energy levels helping you throughout the day rather than a mad 1 minute.

Often you will see the term Glycaemic Index, aka GI, used when referring to whether a carbohydrate is simple or complex. This is a method of measuring the Glycaemic load of a food to give a more helpful chart to gauge how much a food type affects your blood sugar and subsequent insulin response. With this it is the lower the GI that relates to the higher the complexity of carbohydrate. So for oats, these would be classed as a low GI food type.

To summarise, what better way to start your day off than with a bowl of Oat Pantry oats that:

  1. Are a complex carbohydrate
  2. Have a Low GI
  3. Sustain energy levels
  4. Keep you feeling fuller for longer
  5. Provide your body with a great source of fibre (check this post out for all fibre benefits)

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What are Overnight Oats?

If you’ve never had overnight oats, they’re essentially a no-cook version of making porridge. So, instead of cooking porridge on the hob or in the microwave, you soak the raw porridge oats with milk, plant-based milks or even yoghurt. The soaking process allows the oats to absorb the liquid and soften them enough to eat uncooked. You only need to let the oats soak and rest in the fridge for 2 hours. But, it’s ideal if you soak them overnight…hence the name overnight oats!

The next morning you wake up to a delicious, ready-to-eat, creamy jar of overnight oats. The consistency is like a porridge or pudding. It makes for an easy convenient breakfast that has a more dense and creamy texture than warm porridge.

The Benefits of Overnight Oats

  1. Oats are loaded with good-for-you nutrients like fibre, protein, magnesium, potassium, and omega 3 fatty acids, among other things.
  2. As a rich source of fibre, they help you feel fuller longer.
  3. Oats are high in a specific kind of fibre called beta glucan, which is linked to lowering cholesterol levels and overall heart-health.
  4. There are endless ways to be creative: You can fix overnight oats in dozens of different ways, so it never gets boring.  This is also a great way to add even more nutrition to your already healthy breakfast oats.  Try adding things like nuts/nut butters, berries, fresh or dried fruits, chia seeds, yoghurt, cacao nibs, protein powder! Get creative and have fun!
  5. You will never make unhealthy breakfast choices again: If you always keep some overnight oats soaking and ready, even if you’re running behind schedule you can so easily grab that jar of oats and a spoon, and you’re off!  No more temptation to grab something less healthy or more pricey while out and about

How to Make Overnight Oats

  1. Add 40g of Oat Pantry Porridge Oats into a jar (we have these great clip top overnight oats jars available on our website here).
  2. Pour 100ml of your liquid of choice, whether that be milk, plant-based milk, yoghurt (you can even do a 50/50 split of milk and yoghurt) over the oats.
  3. Place the lid on the jar and leave to soak in the fridge overnight.
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Discover The Gut Health Benefits of Oats

Why look after your gut?

The health of our gut (and our gut microbes) can influence pretty much every other system and organ in our body. 

For starters, we know the gut is closely linked to the immune system, partly because around 80% of our immune tissue is found in and around the gut wall. Poor gut health is thought to be a factor in allergies and autoimmune conditions.

Why are oats a gut-friendly food?

Oats can be a fantastic gut-friendly food as part of a healthy, varied diet.

Here are two of their digestion-boosting benefits. 

1. Healthy bowel movements

Most simple of all, the high fibre content of oats helps us have regular and healthy bowel movements. As well as helping to remove toxins and wastes efficiently from the body, healthy bowel movements reduce our risk of problems such as haemorrhoids and disease in the colon. 

2. Feeding your gut bacteria

Within oats fibre represents six to nine per cent of the oat grain, half of which is the soluble fibre, beta glucan. Beta glucan is a soluble dietary fibre that’s strongly linked to improving cholesterol levels and boosting heart health.

The beta-glucan in oats forms a gel-like substance when it mixes with water. This solution coats the stomach and digestive tract.

The coating feeds good bacteria in the gut, which increases their growth rate and can contribute to a healthy gut.

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Nutritional Benefits Of The Mighty Oat

Oats are without a doubt one of the healthiest grains you can eat. They are an excellent source of fibre, antioxidants, and a good source of vitamins and minerals. They are a well balanced food source overall, but as with all foods, the more natural and less processed forms contain the most nutrients and tend to be better for us.

The vitamins and minerals contained in one portion of dry oats can account for a good proportion of your recommended daily intake. Half a cup of oats contains:

-20% of your recommended daily intake of iron

-39% of your vitamin B1, and

-20% of your recommended intake of zinc.

In addition, oats are an excellent source of carbohydrates, and actually contain 13 grams of protein in one half-cup serving.

It’s All About The Fibre

Increasing your fibre intake is another good reason to consider adding more oats to your diet. Since fibre cannot be digested, it helps to push along food and waste products through the gut. The inability to digest fibre also means that you are left feeling fuller for longer, and so you are less likely to feel the need to overeat.

The most beneficial form of fibre contained in oats is known as Beta-Glucan. It is known to reduce LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels in the blood, reduce blood sugar levels, and increase the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

Antioxidant Rich

Antioxidants and polyphenols, of which whole oats are one of the best sources, are also highly beneficial to your diet. You may usually think of antioxidant-rich foods as being things like fruit or vegetables, but oats are equally as good. Particularly important is one type of antioxidant found only in oats called avenanthromides, which are thought to help reduce blood pressure and improve the flow of blood around the body.

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Get More Fibre Into Your Diet With Oats

Fibre has evidence to show that its effects bring such things as: lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes. It has also shown to aid gut health through feeding the good bacteria, of which in turn creates protective substances, and also research has shown that increasing your intake of this can reduce your risk of bowel cancer by 20% (based on a 90g/day increase).

Fibre can be found in many places, so if you’ve a varied and balanced diet, you’re on the right track and the variety of foods will be doing some good. However, even if you’re one of those people, it appears we’re all just not eating enough of it!

So how much should you be eating?

Research has shown the average UK consumption is 18g per day. That is 60% of what it should be, 30g per day.

The advisory intake does vary for children, so check out the table below for the little ones.

If you’re looking to increase your fibre intake the best foods to introduce into your diet, or just eat more of, are foods such as porridge, breakfast cereals, sweet potato, beans and pulses, vegetables like peas, broccoli, fruits, seeds, and nuts.

According to the British Dietetic Association (BDA), one of the best tips for increasing your fibre intake is to have a high-fibre cereal at breakfast, as well as to add fruit to your cereal.

For example, half a cup of oats (contain around 9g fibre) with 80g raspberry’s (provides an extra 2-3g fibre). Therefore, a bowl of porridge or granola could be a great way to start your day with helping you immediately hit 1/3 of your daily requirement.