Oats are a fantastic choice for breakfast. They are packed full of nutrients (particularly B vitamins which we need to release energy from food) as well as fibre, protein and minerals. Check out this All About Oats page to find out more. Porridge often comes to mind when we think about oats for breakfast, but don’t forget you can also use oats in homemade breakfast bars, granola or muesli.
So what makes oats so special?
1. Oats are rich in soluble fibre. Soluble fibre absorbs water in the bowel, forming a soft gel-like substance. This can help soften your poo, making it easier to go to the loo.
2. Having porridge for breakfast may certainly help with weight loss and / or weight management. A study that has just been published (click here for the abstract) reports that people having porridge for breakfast (compared to cornflakes) felt a greater sense of fullness (partly because the oats took longer to digest and leave the stomach) then they ate less for lunch too. The effect was also greatest in those that were overweight compared to those of normal weight. It seems porridge for breakfast could really help reduce and stabilise Calorie intake and this may have all sorts of other knock on benefits in terms of preventing obesity, Type 2 diabetes and all the other associated health problems.
3. Another benefit from eating soluble fibre is that although we don’t digest it directly ourselves, the bacteria that live in our gut do. They break it down through a fermentation process that also releases short chain fatty acids. Of particular interest are butyrate, propionate and acetate which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and possible anti-cancer properties, suppress cholesterol synthesis by the liver and reduce blood levels of LDL cholesterol which causes heart disease. If you need any more convincing, a recent study (click here for the abstract) was published earlier this month that found that higher wholegrain consumption (so this includes oats) lowers the risk of dying from heart disease.
Porridge has certainly increased in popularity over the last 5 years which is great to see but many of us choose the quick / instant oats that cook in 2 minutes in the microwave. The thing about quick oats is they are slightly processed to speed up the cooking process. This means we digest them that bit faster too. Because of this (compared to the non-instant varieties) you may find you do in fact feel hungry again not long after eating them as your blood glucose levels will not be as constant.
Obviously the sachets of quick oats are very handy when we are rushing around in the morning but you can still cook standard porridge oats (that come in the bigger bags and boxes) in the microwave and they don’t take much longer at all.
Another word of warning is all the sweetened, flavoured varieties we can get now in the instant oats are often much higher in added sugar. Try going back to basics with your porridge and try some of these great homemade recipes here on the Shake Up Your Wake Up website. If you are a Jamie O fan, he also has some recipes here too.