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Comfort food isn't always healthy (read: cheesy grits), so oatmeal is a welcome exception. With so many delicious ways to change up the flavors (cinnamon, cacao powder, peanut butter...) and such a variety of toppings to make each bowl unique (nuts, fruit, compote, poached eggs...) there is no better whole food bowl to start your day. 

Consider this your one-stop shopping locale for everything you ever wanted to know about oatmeal... and a few things you didn't know you needed to know, too!

Watch the Video on How to Cook Easy and Healthy Oatmeal

Health Benefits of Oatmeal

Oats have been considered a healthy breakfast option for decades, and for good reason. Oats of all varieties are packed with a certain kind of soluble fiber known as beta glucan. This type of fiber is associated with reduced metabolic syndrome, a reduction in LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), decreased risk of heart disease, and improved digestive function.1

Starting off your day with a big bowl of oatmeal delivers even more health benefits. Oats contain unique antioxidant compounds called avenanthramides, which help to prevent free radical damage. 2

Oats (and other whole grains) keep your ticker healthy, too. Harvard researchers studying the effects of whole grain cereal consumption on heart failure risk followed 21,376 participants in the Physicians Health Study over nineteen years.3 "After adjusting for confounding factors, they found that men who consumed a daily bowl of whole grain (but not refined) cereal had a 29 percent lower risk of heart failure."

One more health consideration to keep in mind when cooking your healthy eats: Make sure you choose and use clean, non-toxic cookware so chemicals don't leach into your food. This is particularly important when it comes to non stick cookware. To discover which brands are safe read our guide to non-toxic cookware

Nutrient breakdown of Oats: 1 cup dry, 81g

Thiamine: 25% DV
Folate: 6% DV
Iron: 19% DV
Magnesium: 28% DV
Phosphorus: 33% DV
Zinc: 20% DV
Copper: 16% DV
Manganese: 147% DV
Selenium: 33% DV

rolled oats for better oatmeal

Cooking delicious oats starts with the right ingredients like real rolled oats. 

The 5 Different Types of Oatmeal

Due to different forms of processing you can find a variety of oat types at the grocery store. Of course, some oats are healthier and more whole than others. 

Here’s the breakdown:

1. Rolled Oats or Old Fashioned Oats

Also called old-fashioned, traditional, or whole oats, these oats have a flatter shape due to being steamed and then rolled to flatten. Rolled oats cook faster than steel-cut oats and are ideal to use in cookies, muffins, granola bars, and quick breads. They can easily be ground into an oat flour, and absorb more liquid than other types of oats.

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From the Organic Authority Files

2. Steel-Cut Oats

These oats are produced by cutting whole oat groats with steel blades. Also known as Irish oatmeal, they have a thick and chewy texture once cooked. These oats are delicious cooked into a morning porridge or baked into heartier meals like stuffing and risotto.

3. Instant Oats

Also called quick-cooking oats, instant oats are the most processed type of oatmeal. This oatmeal is made by partially cooking the grains before rolling them into a thin finished product. Often, sugar, salt and other ingredients are added. 

This type of oat is best made into a quick porridge, which will tend to have a mushier texture than other less processed oatmeal types.

4. Oat Groats

The word "groat" comes from an old Scottish word describing an oat kernel with the hull removed. This type of oat is otherwise unprocessed and uncut, and it takes longer to cook. That said, it delivers a hearty and chewy taste and texture as its reward. 

Oat groats can be cooked into porridge or used for heartier grain dishes in place of quinoa or rice.

5. Sprouted Oats

These are simply rolled or steel-cut oats that have been soaked, sprouted, and dehydrated.

Oats contain phytic acid3, a compound that can interfere with nutrient absorption in the GI tract. Soaking and sprouting significantly reduces the amount of phytic acid in oats, as does cooking them.

If you can’t find sprouted oats in your grocery store, you can also soak your oats with an acidic compound overnight (one cup oats + one cup water + two tablespoons apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or yogurt). The acid helps to break down the phytic acid found naturally in the oats (see the Organic Authority shop for Little Apple Treats apple cider vinegar made from orchard-grown, hand picked organic fruit). Simply pour this mixture into your pot and cook away!

[Note: many foods naturally contain phytic acid. This is not really a concern unless you have special health conditions or food restrictions. If you are concerned about phytic acid, talk to your nutritionist, RD, ND, or MD.]

Made In's saucier is perfect for cooking oatmeal
cooking oatmeal in a pot, bring oatmeal to a boil
how to cook oatmeal, served in a white bowl with a spoon
how to cook oatmeal breakfast garnished with toppings of jam and nut butter
how to cook delicious oatmeal every time. Here's a bowl of plain oatmeal next to oatmeal with ham and nut butter.

Notes for Cooking Gluten-Free Oatmeal

Gluten-Free: If you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, make sure to purchase certified gluten-free oats. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but are often processed in a plant that also handles gluten-containing grains. To be on the safe side, purchase gluten-free rolled oats for peace of mind.

Get social with us!

Making oatmeal? Tag and show us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with the tag #BeOrganic @OrganicAuthority – We can’t wait to get social with you!

Related On Organic Authority

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This Baked Berry Oatmeal Recipe Will Warm Up Any Breakfast Rut

Sources
1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192
2. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/137/6/1375/4664754
3. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-30144/the-one-goodforyourgut-ingredient-you-should-be-adding-to-your-overnight-oats.html
4. https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/health-and-nutrition-quackery-you-asked/himalayan-pink-salt

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