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.
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.
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.