Oats, whose scientific name is Avena sativa, are an herbaceous plant of annual cycle, which belong to the gramineous family (also called Poaceae), which are largely includ]ed in the monocotyledon phanerogram plant group. They are commonly known as one of the most important members of the vegetable groups in the Food Pyramid: cereals.
- 1. What are oats?
- 2. Cultivation and agronomic features of oats
- 3. The Origin of Oats
- 4. Who produces oats?
- 5. Treatments that oats are subjected to
- 6. Weevil in oats. Why do they have bugs?
- 7. What do oats contain and what is it for?
- 8. What are the elements that oats provide to the body?
- 9. Types of Oats according to their presentation and origin
- 10. Differences between the Types of Oats
- 11. Benefits and Properties of Oats
- 12. Oats and sports
- 13. Who can especially benefit from oats?
- 14. Related Entries:
What are oats?
Oats are one of the highest and most balanced sources of calories. They are one of the healthiest and most complete cereals due to its high content in proteins and vitamins, mainly group B vitamins. They make a perfect breakfast since a cup provides almost a 70% of the necessary daily intake of manganese, a good portion of vitamin B1, and magnesium.
The grain is very resistant and it is capable of growing even in poor soils in which other crops would not be able to prosper. This cereal transfers its strength to those who consume it through its impressive nutritional profile.
100g of oats provide 350 calories, 14 grams of proteins, 58 grams of carbohydrates, and 10 grams of fiber.
They are perfect for weight control diets, sportspeople or those who suffer diabetes, because they provide low glycemic index carbohydrates (sustained energy supply). They also have a great fiber content, both insoluble and soluble, which supports the intestinal transit and avoids constipation.
This is why including oats in our diet is not just eating healthy, rather, it is a way to ensure that we are providing our organism with enough energy to do physical exercise.
Cultivation and agronomic features of oats
Avena sativa is not the only species that responds to the generic name “oats”, since there are many cultivated and wild varieties as well. In any case, the one that is mostly farmed is the topic of this article, followed by others such as Avena Byzantina and Avena Nuda. The latter is called “naked oat” due to the fact that it is threshed and its glumes, which are tiny leaves that cover the spike, are removed.
When it comes to the botanical features that identify cultivated oats, we can summarize them in the following sections:
- Root: they are provided by a robust radicular system, which stands out when compared to other cereals.
- Stem: it has a considerable diameter and it is straight, close to a meter and a half, and it is made up of several internodes that end in prominent nodes. Its main weakness is that it is not resistant to lodging and it consequently loses its verticality due to the action of wind.
- The leaves are not embossed and their blades are rough, long and thin. There is a membranous appendix which has a serrated edge called ligule, which is where the leaf blades and stem converge. However, the leaves lack the typical laminar structures from the base called stipules. They are also veined, with a parallel pattern.
- The flowers are laid out in complex structures called inflorescences, which are basically the spike clusters made up of two or, at most, three flowers held in very long stalks.
- The fruit is simple and it is called caryopsis, which is usually known as the grain of the cereal.
Regarding its relationship with the climate, this plant fits into the cold season group, since it can tolerate low temperatures, although not as low as wheat or barley. On the other hand, especially during blossoming season and during the development of the fruit, it is affected by hot or extremely hot temperatures. Due to these two features, its cultivation is focused on areas with cold continental climates.
When it comes to its water needs, it is a species that demands a lot of water due to its high transpiration levels, which are even higher than barley and wheat. Paradoxically, it is also sensitive to relative humidity. To sump up, oats prefer cold climates with rainy springs, which are two conditions that often result in productive crops.
It is not very demanding about the chemical composition and texture of the soil. Nevertheless, it grows vigorously in sand-clay soils, lightly calcareous and with enough porosity in order to retain humidity without reaching water impoundment.
The acidity of the ground does not affect oats as much as it affects other cereals, although the ideal pH range would be between 5 and 7.
This is the reason why it is advisable to cultivate it in fields that have been recently tilled and which contain plenty of organic matter.
The Origin of Oats
All the information related to this subject points to the fact that all oat species come from Central Asia. But, to be honest, all the historical details about this cereal cast more shadows than light on this matter. However, a thesis that is widely believed states that this cereal gained relevance in agricultural practices later than their homologous (barley and wheat) after being considered a weed for a long time.
The first evidence of the existence of wild oats are from the times of the Mesopotamian civilization. The fertile lands flanked by the rivers Tigris and Euphrates witnessed its incipient development. There are findings in Egypt that are similar to the remains of the wild oat seeds that were supposedly treated as weeds at the time, since the possibility that the Egyptians domesticated oats has been discarded.
We must go back to the Bronze Age and the territories of the European Central plateau in order to find evidence of the cultivation of oats.
Like any living being, these vegetable species evolved, partly motivated by their migration to northern areas. They conquered the North of Europe, so they adapted to the cold and humid climates, although originally, they were not genetically programmed to live in such conditions.
Around two thousand five hundred years before the beginning of the Christian era, it seems that an ordered use of oats began to happen, until it became the cereal that we know today. Its growth went in crescendo, partly due to its versatility when it comes to growing in terrains where other species which are more demanding could not, like wheat. In fact, the production was such that due to its high demand it became a star ingredient in the gastronomy of European countries like Ireland, Scotland, and Germany.
During the medieval period it consolidated its position as a basic ingredient of our diet, but it experienced a serious bump with the arrival of potatoes in the 18th century. They became a serious competitor, and oats would not recover until the beginning of the 20th century.
Even though they were cultivated in huge terrains, they did not always enjoy the same acceptance than wheat and barley in the market. However, these days the numbers speak for themselves: it is one of the most consumed cereals in the world, a status that it has reached due to their multiple nutritional properties that we will discuss in these articles. Let’s not forget that they are also used as a fodder plant, since it is used to feed the cattle and horses.
Who produces oats?
Oats rank 6th in the global computation of cereals produced worldwide. They are preceded by corn, rice, wheat, barley and sorghum, although we should mention that oats are the main winter cereal in cold climate areas of the northern hemisphere.
Their main producers are spread throughout the whole planet and they are: Russia, Canada, Poland, the United States and Australia. More than 21 millions tonnes are harvested each year. Between 700 and 800 thousands belong to Spain, which ranks 10th on the global computation.
All this production of the Avena sativa species is not homogeneous, rather, it must be separated in a series of varieties which are:
- Prevision: it is obtained through a selection process from a breed of Argentinian origin. It stands out due to is precocity and its quite resistant to droughts. It is characterized by a singular reddish grain and it is a variety that often provides an excellent production.
- Snowhite: it is a variety of white oats with a high specific weight. It has a long tradition in the European continent and its origin is in the French INIA. It is more sensitive to low temperatures than the others and it has an early cycle. It resists loading better and its production is often regular with a high performance. When it comes to its resistance to plagues, it is mainly affected by yellow rust, but it is impervious to coal.
- Condor: it is a spring variety from the Netherlands and it is especially meant for fertile soils. Its features (white grain, resistant to loading, sensitive to cold and yellow rust) are very similar to the Snowhite variety.
- Moyencourt: it is a spring variety as well, but the grain is black and dense; it was developed in France like the Snowhite variety and it is affected by low temperatures, rust and shelling.
There are currently research lines focused on achieving new varieties with an enhanced protein and caloric content, apart from making them more resistant to insect plagues and microorganisms.
Treatments that oats are subjected to
Like any other living species, oats are susceptible to plagues that can hinder their production. Let’s see some of the ones that can be prevented with certain treatments.
Tarsonemus apirifex is a mite that attacks the sheath during the spiking phase. It hardens it until it blocks the irruption of the inflorescence, which consequently produces sterilization. Nevertheless, it is possible to prevent it through ploughing and with a specific fertilization of the soil.
Yellow or stripe rust is a plague that affects oats as well as wheat, barley, and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye). It is caused by the fungus Puccinia striiformis and it can be seen in the pustules that appear on the leaves, and sometimes in the spikes, linearly and integrated by a yellowish mass of spores, which is why it is called like that.
Crown rust is caused by the fungus Puccinia coronata, which is a specific plague that only affects oats. The spores from this fungus are orange, it also forms pustules of several sizes, although they can reach a centimeter. The treatment of both rusts requires the use of Diclobutrazol at 3% combined with Mancozeb at 40%, and Triadimefon at 25 % can also be used.
Stinking bunt is a disease caused by another fungus species, Ustilago levis. A plant that is affected by stinking bunt has a completely normal aspect, but their grains are filled with a black dust. An efficient treatment involves disinfecting the seeds with mercury compounds.
There are other threats to oats in the form of plagues, but which are less dangerous. For example, black rust, loose smut, fusariosis, black foot, or the Heterodera avenae parasite.
Weevil in oats. Why do they have bugs?
Sitophilus granarius is the scientific name of the animal that is commonly known as grain weevil, a cosmopolitan insect that is responsible for one of the most feared plagues of cereals due to its ability to destroy them, resulting in a great loss of cereals. The females are extremely prolific when it comes to laying eggs, which is from where the larvae are born. They are the ones that take advantage of the nutrients of the grain.
A scrupulous hygiene and a continuous visual control are key in order to avoid this contamination.
For this, it is necessary to store the grains in steel containers, avoiding cardboard, even if it is very rigid, since the insects have tools to go through it.
These containers must be closed with a hermetic lid. Some of the most resistant materials are polycarbonate, polyethylene, polyester, aluminium leaves, cellophane or kraft paper.
In any case, if there are signs of mite, the first task will be to discard the presence of adult insects which normally make wholes in the middle of the grain. An easy way to make sure is to put the grains in water, if they sink they are healthy; if they float, they must be infested. However, even if their presence is found early, there is nothing that can be done to combat them, except for destroying the cereal completely.
What do oats contain and what is it for?
To which food group do oats belong?
Oats belong to the nutritional group of grains and flours and it is a cereal meant for different culinary uses with great properties and benefits. It is a group located at the base of the Food Pyramid and which is made up by bread, pasta, rice, processed cereals (wheat, corn, oat, barley…). All of them are an irreplaceable source of nutrients and benefits, especially if they are consumed in their whole form.
Specifically, oats belong to the nutritional group that was first given the title of functional food, a concept that is strictly regulated by the European Union food legislation. In it, oats are defined as a food that contains substances that always produce a positive effect on the functioning of the organism. For example, it lowers the bad cholesterol levels which can improve our health, or it can also reduce the risk of suffering certain diseases. Because of this, it has become an indispensable element in the list of ingredients that is handled by any nutritionist or dietitian in the last few decades.
It is a fact that eating of oats is an excellent habit due to the wide range of nutrients that they provide for a proper functioning of the organism. Moreover, this cereal naturally provides energy that the organism needs in order to ensure its dynamic and regeneration.
This article would not be complete without citing their support in keeping us safe from digestives disorders and from the effects of stress.
Even though we will focus on the performance of oats as a food, it is also worth mentioning that oats are gaining more and more followers in the field of cosmetics. They have become part of the formula of many skin products designed to take care of our skin due to their properties and benefits to protect and hydrate the skin.
For centuries, cereals have traditionally been a basic needs product when it comes to meeting the nutritional needs of different peoples and cultures. Apart from their nutritional profile, they are affordable and their satiating effect caused by the growth of the alimentary bolus in the intestinal transit. These features have been useful during times of economic hardship.
Cereals and particularly oats are foods that have high productive performance, they are easy to store and they have a pleasant flavor. For all these reasons they have gained a relevant position among the development factors of populations since the beginning of agriculture during the neolithic period until now. They have become the main source of carbohydrates of human beings while providing very little fat at the same time.
Some varieties are cultivated as fodder and pasture to feed the cattle, they also act as a straw bed in farms. From the point of view of agriculture, they provide an excellent utility in the rotation of crops in order to maintain the soil in proper conditions.
Oats and beta-glucans
Most of the soluble fiber in oats comes from their beta-glucans, which have significant benefits for health. Beta-glucans work with white blood cells called neutrophils and, among other things, they have anti-inflammatory effects which isolate the inflammation in the body.
Beta-glucans also have benefits for people who have high cholesterol, which is why it is advisable to eat oat bran in these cases. Oat bran is formed in the outer layers of the cereal without endosperm. It has a higher fiber content and twice the beta-glucan content of oat flour.
40 grams of oat bran provide 3 grams of beta-glucan. Those who have high cholesterol levels can lower them between a 8 and 23 percent by consuming 3 grams of oat bran daily for three weeks. (You should also drink plenty of water when eating oat bran).
In addition, we can also reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems by consuming oats every day, especially if we take into account that cholesterol increases the chances of cardiovascular disease.
How does beta-glucan from oats lower the cholesterol?
Beta-glucans increase the amount of bile in the intestine through a very simple process. There are a lot of fats and toxic substances in the bile which, thanks to the effect of beta-glucans, can be excreted through the feces instead of returning to the blood stream.
Natural oats help to lower “bad” cholesterol or LDL, so that the “good” cholesterol remains intact. Moreover, it has antioxidant properties that come from their specific antioxidant element which is known as avenanthramide.
All the vital substances mentioned previously can be found only in whole grain oats. Oat flour is usually made with whole seeds, both in the case of polynuclear flour, fine flour or flour for babies.
What are the elements that oats provide to the body?
Schematically, this would be an accurate nutrient profile for 100g of oats:
- Energy: 380 kilocalories
- Proteins: 15 grams
- Carbohydrates: 65 grams
- Soluble fiber: 10 grams
- Fat: 7 grams
- Potassium: 350 milligrams
- Phosphorus: 342 milligrams
- Calcium: 80 milligrams
- Magnesium: 177 milligrams
- Iodine: 7 milligrams
- Zinc: 3 milligrams
- Iron: 5 milligrams
- Vitamin B1: 0.67 milligrams
- Vitamin B2: 0.15 milligrams
- Vitamin B3: 3.4 milligrams
- Vitamin B6: 0.9 milligrams
- Vitamin E: 0.8 milligrams (total tocopherols, 18 milligrams)
- Vitamin k: 50 micrograms
Vitamins and minerals provided by oats
As we saw in the previous list, the richness and benefits of oats in terms of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is quite important, to the point that it leads the ranking of cereals with more vitamins and minerals. If we want to plan a diet that is close to perfection, it has to be rich in fiber, with properties and benefits for our health like the ones provided by oats.
Oats contain a lot of benefits and properties that can help to regulate the cholesterol.
Group B vitamins, like 1,2,3 and 6 are involved in the energy metabolism through an endless series of biochemical reactions related to the metabolism of carbs, lipids and proteins into calories that are ready to be used by the cells. They also especially affect the functioning of the central nervous system and the transmission of nerve impulses.
Oats and vitamin B1
Around 40 grams of oats contain 0.3 milligrams of vitamin B1.
This amount meets a quarter of the recommended daily intake of this vitamin. There is no other cereal with such a high proportion of vitamin B1 as oats. Only amaranth has a similar B1 content to that of oats.
Vitamin B1, along with vitamin B6, produces a feeling of tranquillity and helps to control nerves.
When the body has a vitamin B1 deficiency the consequences are dizziness, insomnia, fatigue, and neurological disorders. In addition, vitamin B1 is necessary so that the body can process carbohydrates correctly when we consume them. Carbs are often called “vitamin B1 thieves”, since they use it but do not provide it.
An optimal supply of vitamin B1 or thiamine means that consuming oats regularly can help us control the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. At the same time, it is recommended for periods of a high metabolic demand, such as pregnancy and lactation. It also works during recovery periods from diseases or surgery due to the fact that the metabolism demands more vitamin B1 in these circumstances.
Oats and vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 contributes to controlling our nerves and to encouraging a balanced state of mind.
Oats have twice more vitamin B6 than other cereals (1 milligram per 100 grams of oats).
One remarkable property of this vitamin is that it helps to preserve a strong nervous system. Moreover, it improves the health of the blood cells (since it is involved in the synthesis of hemoglobins) and it stimulates the production of serotonin. Vitamin B6 is one of the most popular remedies to treat insomnia, as well as psychological and emotional distress.
Nowadays, a lack of vitamin B6 is quite common among young people and even adults due to an unbalanced diet. A vitamin B6 deficiency can trigger different symptoms, such as chronic diarrhea. Some medicines, mainly antibiotics and birth control pills can also cause a deficiency of this vitamin.
The symptoms of a vitamin B6 deficiency include: frequent nightmares, increased susceptibility to infections or skin injuries and high levels of homocysteine, which is one of the most serious risks for cardiovascular problems.
The abundance of vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is what makes oats suitable for those who suffer from diabetes or asthma. Their balsamic action for carpal tunnel syndrome patients is remarkable. These facts should be taken into account when it comes to preventing cardiovascular diseases and cancer, since oats have the ability to help in these areas as well.
Oats and vitamin K
When it comes to vitamin K, its content is more modest, since it is a vitamin whose nutritional threshold is proportionally reduced. But oats have enough to be considered a food that contributes to a proper blood coagulation.
Calcium and oats
The main disorder caused by diets which lack calcium is, indubitably, bone demineralization. For this, it is important to remember that 100gr of oats provide a 15% of the recommended daily amount that a healthy adult needs.
Oats contain biotin and zincBiotin improves the aspect of our hair and nails and helps to keep the nervous system in a proper condition. 40 grams of oatmeal are enough to provide 7.8 micrograms of biotin to our organism, which is the equivalent to a quarter of the recommended daily intake. But, how do biotin and zinc work in the body?
Biotin is one of the best-known remedies to keep our hair, skin, and nails strong and healthy. It is especially recommended for the treatment of hair loss, and its benefits can be enhanced even more if we combine it with zinc.
Apart from this, oats are a good source of zinc, since every 100 grams of them contain about 4.300 micrograms of zinc (equivalent to the content of zinc in a steak), they are perfect for keeping our hair healthy, strong, and bright.
Zinc is indispensable for the immune system, the reproductive organs, the healing of wounds, and the metabolism of proteins and insulin. The abundant content of zinc in oats contributes to the harmonic development of tissues and to the distribution of vitamin A towards the retina.
Biotin equally encourages the proper functioning of the nervous system, since clinical studies have also proven that depression is related to having low levels of biotin.
Oats and iron
40 grams of oats contain 2.4 milligrams of iron. Oats also have higher values of iron than other cereals.
Only amaranth, quinoa (pseudo-cereals) and millet may have similar levels of iron to oats.
Not even meat can beat oats as a natural source of iron, since oats have twice more iron than meat.
Even if we combine oats with a vitamin C source (for example, muesli), the amount of iron from oats reaches similar levels to the ones we can find in meat.
Due to these facts, it is one of the main remedies along with millet in order to treat anemia.
If the intake of iron is lower than the recommended daily intake and the reserves of this mineral in red blood cells is under 2 grams, we run the risk of suffering from an iron deficiency anemia. The amount of iron in 100g of oats provides a quarter of the necessary daily intake.
Potassium, phosphorus and iodine in oats
Diets rich in potassium are related to a balanced blood pressure, which also produces an optimization of the renal function and an increase of the diameter of blood vessels, especially of arteries. The potassium content in oats is quite remarkable, since with only a hundred grams a 10% of the daily recommended intake is met.
1% of the mass of the human body contains phosphorus, a number that is due to the fact that all cells have some of it it, although the biggest proportion is in the bones and in our teeth. We can ensure more than a half of the daily organic intake of phosphorus with a hundred grams of oats.
Iodine is a mineral that helps with the synthesis of thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine) which intervene decisively in the regulation of the metabolism. A iodine deficiency is caused by hypothyroidism which can be prevented with a regular intake of oats, since this cereal is an exception to the rule of Mediterranean countries when it comes to nutritional intakes of iodine, which is usually deficient.
Oats have an exceptional magnesium content
One of the remarkable properties of oats is their outstanding magnesium content: 40 grams of oats contain 60 milligrams of magnesium.
In order to provide half of the recommended daily intake of magnesium (300-400 mg) we need to eat: 40 grams of oats, a banana, half an apple, 2 seeded and sliced dates and 20 grams of sunflower seeds.
Even if you do not like the taste of oats, you can mix them with plenty of vegetables or fruits rich in vitamin C, in order to get the greatest benefits for your health.
Oats provide an excellent silicon supply
Oats include the same amount of silicon than millet (which is considered the king of silicon). Silicon is an exceptional material that helps to preserve the health of connective tissue, it also prevents the development of cellulite, and encourages a firm and elastic skin.
Silicon is popularly known for its ability to keep our hair and nails in a proper condition.
However, most people ignore the fact that silicon is one of the best health remedies for bones and cartilage. This is the reason why including an extra amount of silicon is recommended for those who suffer from osteoarthritis, arthritis, or any other bone problems. In addition, the body uses silicon to recover its natural supply of organic aluminium, which protects the brain and improves its performance.
How much protein do oats provide and what proteins are they?
Proteins are one of the icons of oats, since they stand out among cereals due to their content in this immediate principles that are so important in order to maintain and support the structure and metabolic machinery of the organism. But we need to keep in mind that the magnitude of this protein component is inversely proportional to the level of industrial processing of the oats. However, it does not mean that by incorporating one portion of them daily in a diet of 2000 kilocalories, in any of its preparations, we will cover a 10% of our recommended daily intake of proteins.
At the same time, it must be taken into account that there are little oscillations in the chemical composition of the oat flakes from one crop to another, depending on the richness of the soil and the rainfall that occurs during the cultivation process.
When it comes to the quality of the proteins from oats, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO (a section of the World Health Organization), it can be said that it competes against soy flour, which claims to be the main source of vegetable protein. In any case, it should be stated that vegetable protein as a whole presents a basal deficit when compared to protein of animal origin (meat, fish, eggs…) and to their biological value. This is due to the fact that the molecular structure of these proteins is very similar to that of leguminous vegetables, to which soy belongs.
The most abundant protein fraction is the one in prolamins. These storage proteins are made during the maturation of the oat grain in the endosperm, which is the tissue of the seed that contains the nutritional reserves for the growth of the plant.
Even though it is not a proper source of proteins, this is a feature of oats that is constantly under development in order to improve it by combining it with protein sources of animal origin and soy derivatives. For example, it is interesting to add a spoonful of oatmeal to a bowl of milk with which we will provide 8 grams of proteins; you can also replace the milk for a portion of cottage cheese with low fat, so that its protein content raises up to 25-30 grams, or with a soy powder concentrate in order to increase it from 20 to 25 grams.
What amino acids are present in oats?
There are six out of nine essential amino acids in the molecular composition of the protein fraction of oats. The are necessary for the human body since we lack the metabolic pathways to synthesize them in order to carry out processes such as: the regeneration of tissues, the production of hormones, and the synthesis of catalytic enzymes from the biochemical reactions of the organism. In order to measure the aminogram from oats, let’s compare the fact that wheat is rich only in one out of nine essential amino acids, while barley and rye lack every single one of them. This is the reason why the properties and benefits of oats increase when compared to other cereals.
Precisely, here lies one of the greatest advantages of oats, which is the biological value of their proteins. The intake of essential amino acids known as leucine, isoleucine, and threonine, is essential for the development of the body which is quickly growing, like the that of a child. At the same time, they help to eliminate the so called “bad cholesterol” (LDL, low density lipoproteins), which encourages the synthesis of lecithin in the liver, which acts as a purifying system for the organism by eliminating substances that are a burden due to their energy cost or to their toxicity.
If we want to obtain protein mainly from vegetables, the best way consists of combining three quarters of cereals and a quarter of leguminous plants. We always need to take into account the distribution of amino acids in both groups, and we need to point out to a fact: the essential amino acid lysine is limited in all cereals, and most of leguminous plants provide it abundantly, specially soy, which makes these two complementary foods.
How much carbohydrates do oats have and what type are they?
Oats also have an important carbohydrates content, about 66.5 grams per 100g of product, which means that they make up a third of their composition.
In this case, they are slow absorption carbs and their glycemic index is around 40, which means that they provide the necessary energy in order to maintain the organism and to stabilize the blood glucose levels.
Due to this features they are able to avoid the common drowsiness that usually happens between the first meal of the day and the second one. This happens due to the fact that the brain and the muscles are deprived of the amount of sugar that they need to be fully functioning. At the same time, this feature of carbohydrates from oats is beneficial for those who suffer from stress, since it becomes an important support in order to overcome fatigue.
As it usually happens in most of the vegetable kingdom, the predominant carbohydrate in oats is also starch. But it is not the only one since, apart from a low percentage of fructose, we should highlight a carbohydrate which has an extraordinary relevance for those functions that oats perform in the organism: fiber, which is present in remarkable amounts. It is broken down in two fractions: mucilages and bran.
The first ones are in charge of lubricating the intestinal tract. One of the components from oat bran is avenasterol (a phytosterol, or “vegetable cholesterol”) which is responsible for the typical laxative effect apart from contributing to the reduction of blood cholesterol levels. Due to the fact that it contains these two fibrous fractions, one soluble and the other insoluble, oats have a very interesting feature when compared to other cereals, which is preserving the good health of the intestinal microbial flora as well as cleaning the organism.
How much fat do oats contain and what kinds of fat are they?
When we talked about proteins we pointed to the fact that its richness in lipids or fat stands out (7g per 100g of oats) among their homologous elements. A positive factor is that 80% from the total fat are unsaturated. These kind of substances are irreplaceable in the organism and they are components of the cell membranes and the cardiovascular system, as well as of the central nervous system.
If we pay attention to their main components, which are fatty acids, a third of the ones that are present are of unsaturated nature. Half of them are linoleic acid which is the main component of the omega-6 series.
From this numbers, we can conclude that by consuming 100g of oat flakes daily we ensure a third of our necessary intake of essential fatty acids. These properties turn oats into an indispensable food in our diet.
Another element that was mentioned previously in relation to fiber is phytosterol, which is an exclusive component of vegetable foods which contributes notably to the reduction of cholesterol levels in blood.
Another important fat component is lecithin, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous system and which acts synergistically with the latter in order to reduce LDL cholesterol.
Oats have the best fiber combination
There are approximately 4 grams of fiber in 40 grams of oats, beautifully balanced between soluble and insoluble fiber. In other cereals like wheat, rye, barley, and corn, there is a greater proportion of insoluble fiber while the soluble fiber content is scarce. The difference between soluble and insoluble fiber has to do with their various health benefits. But what exactly is the difference?
Insoluble fiber is recommended to fight constipation, while soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and fat levels in blood, which helps to lower the risk of suffering heart attacks, atherosclerosis, or gallstones.
Oats can reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar levels in just three days, which makes it one of the best remedies for diabetes.
The soluble fiber in oats, along with its high magnesium content, helps to regulate sugar levels in blood. The result is so remarkable that for diabetics or people with insulin resistance, oats are a true cure.
The effects of oats are so extraordinary that taking a large amount for three days significantly improves the insulin resistance and blood sugar levels.
Despite this, it is always better to include them in our every day meals, in small portions, and as part of a healthy diet.
The latest clinical studies conducted on 40 000 participants have proven that nutritional supplements that contain magnesium in a natural way reduce the risk of suffering diabetes in a 19 percent.
But in the case of oat flour the results are extraordinary, because it was proved that those participant who consumed oats regularly lowered the risk of suffering diabetes by a third. The way oats are produced explains why they contain saponins, which are some phytochemicals that reduce hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) and increase the secretion of insulin.
Oats contain very little gluten
Oats are not completely gluten-free, but they have so little that they cannot be used to bake bread. Gluten is the ingredient in bread that forms the dough and causes its fermentation and rise. In the case of oats, the amount of gluten is so scarce that if other additives are not used only flat bread can be made.
However, oat flour can be mixed with other ingredients by up to 30 percent in order to make bread. Although oats do contain a small amount of gluten, it is different from the one that can be found in wheat. It can be tolerated much more easily than the one found in wheat, rye, and spelt.
Therefore, even those who are celiac can consume limited quantities of oats, as long as they do not exceed 50g daily which has to be always wholemeal (free from gluten) and without mixing it with wheat, barley, or spelt.
When a field of oats is next to a wheat field there is a risk that some of the wheat grains could be mixed with the oats and end up in commercial oat products. These small amounts of wheat can be a problem for celiac people, so they should pay close attention to the product label and choose only those that state that they are “gluten-free”.
This ensures that they contain less than 20ppm* gluten (* 20 ppm = 2 mg of gluten per 100 grams) and that they are therefore in the recommended range for celiac people.
A clinical study conducted on 116 celiac children showed that they could tolerate oats. They formed two groups, the first one was given the classic gluten-free diet and the other was allowed to eat oat products (without wheat). The study was able to confirm that oats had not affected the intestinal mucosa of the children that had consumed them and that it had also strengthened their immune system.
However, celiac people should test themselves with specific amounts of oats to see what they can tolerate, beginning with small amounts and observing how their body reacts.
Celiac people can perform a test phase and regularly check how they react to gliadin, in order to find out if they are intolerant as soon as possible.
Gliadin is the part of gluten that causes autoimmune reactions in the intestine of celiac people, which causes symptoms in the intestinal mucosa such as diarrhea, stomach pain and flatulence. If we want to take advantage of the multiple health benefits of oats, we can consume them in the form we find most appetizing.We tell you everything related to Oats and gluten here!.
Types of Oats according to their presentation and origin
Oat flakes are mechanically grounded in order to make them more digestible, without affecting their original nutritional properties at all. Originally, oat flakes were born in order to complete a range of specific products to be consumed for breakfast, once there were more generic nutritional habits adopted by the population.
Flakes that are made from toasted oat grains are a meal with a high protein content, but their main virtue is that they are considered one of the main sources of vitamin B1.
Due to the fact that oat flakes are rich in fat (which is the reason why they easily become rancid), nature has provided them with an ideal complement, an enzyme whose specific function is to help with the breakdown of fat in fractions that are easier to absorb.
This is the reason why grain processing needs to undergo a toasting phase at a medium temperature, but which has to be hot enough to inactivate this enzyme which is highly sensitive to heat treatments, like all proteins; this whole process is what gives the grain its peculiar taste. Moreover, stored proteins are transformed into less soluble substances, which gives the grain a greater integrity.
Finally, this toasted grain is printed with a steam treatment in order to soften it and make it easier to press by the rollers, so that they carry out this smashing process while reabsorbing the water. They should be precisely and thinly pressed, so that the flakes are adequately hydrated. Normally an oat flake is less than a a millimeter wide, while instant oat is even thinner.
Traditional oat flakes
In order to obtain this product which is also called rolled oats, the grains have to be cooked with steam and they are pierced with rollers, whose mechanic action gives them a plain, oval shape.
Cut oat flakes: smashed oats and steel-cut oats
They are also known as Irish oat or steel-cut oats, which is due to the fact that they are not obtained through smashing with rollers, but rather through a steel-cutting process, which is the reason why they acquire a format that reminds us of minced rice. They require a longer cooking process than traditional oat flakes and they are the preferred option for breakfast in the purest Irish porridge style.
Once the cereal is harvested, the shell is removed with a steel roller, and only the inner flaked grain is left.
They can appear in different sizes of one, two, or three millimeters (thin, medium, and coarse). It is always smashed, practically untreated and preserving all its nutritional properties, but how can they be consumed? With this format, it is the only cereal that can be eaten raw.
Whole oat flakes
The raw material comes from wholegrain oat flakes which have a consistent texture which becomes crunchy when they are chewed.
They are the perfect breakfast and they can be added to soups and purees. Because of their hardness, they are more difficult to chew than thin grains, that is why it is advisable to soak them in liquid (water, milk, juice, kefir…) for half an hour before their consumption.
Smashed oat flakes
Oats tend to be available as whole flakes (traditional oats) or as smashed flakes (instant oat flour), the latter needs less cooking. All of them can be perfectly stored in a refrigeration system, preferably in packs with a hermetic seal.
Bio oat flakes
They come from certified ecological agriculture, and they are ideal to eat with some yogurt, vegetable drinks, or milk, you can also add some nuts, fruit, or chocolate chips to it. They contribute to improving the quality of our diet and, thus, the health of the consumers, as well as avoiding the use of pesticides and other toxic substances.
Gluten-free oat flakes
It is possible to add oats to gluten-free diets moderately for those who are celiacs. This statement is based on the community rule that regulates gluten content in food, on the CE 41/2009 Regulation in which we can read: “most of the people that suffer from gluten intolerance can include oats in their diet without harmful effects for their health”.
Obviously, said claim can solely be defended when there is absolute certainty that the oats that have not been contaminated with other cereals. But the reality is that oats that are massively sold cannot ensure the purity of their composition in relation to cross-contamination. Since both the farming and the processing are phases where the mixing cannot be avoided if there are not strict vigilance measures.
In order to avoid the contamination problem, some rigorous steps must be followed throughout the whole life of the vegetable, analyzing each lot and performing strict controls throughout the whole process, which includes: its farming, harvesting, processing, washing, preparation , and transport. Only in such way the selling of gluten free oat flakes can be endorsed. In total numerical terms, it implies to ensure that the content of this protein is lower than 20 parts per million (milligrams per kilo). This is the required threshold by the legislation previously mentioned in order to admit the “gluten free” certification, which gives the product the qualification “suitable for celiacs”.
The conversion of oats into flour is a process which requires excellent care in order to execute the tasks of each phase in order to get the expected result when it comes to quality and safety.
During the cleaning and classification phases, the oats are purged from all impurities, like sand among others. Once this is over, they are ready to be husked. This phase needs to be carried out with care, since shell residues, which are not digestible, become a serious obstacle in order to obtain quality oat flour. This is main reason why the toaster needs to get only clean flakes.
Afterwards, a hydrothermic treatment is carried out which uses steam followed by highly precise cutting and sheeting, in which starch is gelatinized. In this moment, the flakes are ready to be grounded, then sieved, and finally turned into oat flour.
In order to elaborate oat bran, only the external layers of the oat flakes are used, among which are included the shell and some bits of grain.
Even though oat bran comes from the external layers of the grain, this part actually contains between 80 and 85 per cent of all the essential nutrients of oats, which provide, above all, a high amount of fiber. However, it is harder to digest than other oat types.
Oat bran is available in semolina (coarse grounded grain) or in soluble grain.
Oat bran nutritional value: 100 grams of product provide 250 calories, whose nutrients are distributed in the following way:
- Carbohydrates: 66g.
- Protein: 16g.
- Fat: 7g.
- Fiber: 16g.
- Glycemic index: 55
Oat bran is a natural satiating food that, if drunk with a glass of water, can reduce intense craving for food. It is also rich in fiber and it encourages the elimination of toxins, which is why it is a perfect ally for slimming diets, and it also provides the organism with all the properties and benefits of this excellent cereal.
It is made with water, oat flakes, oil and sea salt. It is lactose and fat free. It is vegans’ favorite drink and it is also used to prepare muesli, as well as for cooking and baking.
Oat milk has a high nutritional content: group B vitamins, protein, fiber, carbohydrates, calcium, and essential amino acids.
It is ideal for diabetics, in order to reduce cholesterol levels, to improve the nervous system, and to reduce constipation.
It consists of the seeds germ from the fresh plant, before blooming. This format is not very well-known, even though it has all the basic nutrients for our organism (vitamins A, C, E, and K) apart from potassium, magnesium, iron and essential amino acids. How can we consume it?
It comes in liquid extract or plant juice and it is normally used to prepare infusions. It can be drunk alone or you can mix it with orange or carrot juice. It has been traditionally used in order to treat nervous exhaustion, relieve the symptoms of stress and to sleep well.
Oats are considered the most complete cereal and one of the healthiest foods that exist by nutritionists, which is why we should include it in our daily diet. Due to its multiple nutrients, it helps children in their growth stage, and it is the perfect ally for those who want to lose weight and for those who need an energetic food, such as athletes and bodybuilders.
For all these reasons it is the perfect cereal, it is ideal to eat for breakfast, since it provides strength throughout the whole day apart from all the nutrients that the organism needs.
Moreover, if we combine it with fruits (preferably citric fruit with vitamin C) it becomes the most complete breakfast and one of the essential elements of our diet.
Oats, preferably whole
However, if you buy certain kinds of products, such as oat biscuits for example, they may not be made purely from oatmeal and they will often contain other types of grains or sugar. That is why it is very important to check the list of ingredients on the packaging of the products. Unlike wholegrain products, the grains that are used to make white flour contain fat and produce food craving.
Wholegrain oats provide other health benefits apart from the ones that have been listed:
In particular, recent clinical studies conducted on 20 000 participants have shown that men who eat whole oats for breakfast every day can reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack by a third.
In the case of women, a clinical study conducted on 35 000 participants has shown that women who eat 13 grams of whole oats daily can reduce the risk of breast cancer in a 40 percent. These are some of the reasons why to choose oats as the cereal with the best properties for health. Moreover, oats also contain a very small quantity of gluten.
Differences between the Types of Oats
Traditional and Instant Oat
There are a series of concepts related to this cereal that we should learn in order to make the most of all the nutritional values that we have described in previous entries. Today, we are going to focus on the differences between traditional and instant oats.
Oats can be obtained from the whole flakes, which are called traditional oats, or from ground and sliced flakes, which are known as instant oats. For both of them, the preferable way to store them is to refrigerate them in hermetically sealed containers.
Traditional oats are clearly the preferable way to consume them, since the whole grain only undergoes a process of lamination, which keeps all its nutritional properties intact.
However, if we are looking for differences in the nutritional profile of traditional and instant oats, the truth is that they are very similar, since, first of all, they provide the same amount of energy.
The main difference is that instant oats are a little less rich in fiber, vitamins and fatty acids (which are very sensitive to high temperatures) and they increase their glycemic index a little bit, which is due to the boiling process that they undergo. When we heat oats, their glycemic index is lightly increased, which is the reason why if we plan to consume them abundantly and regularly for breakfast, the best way is to eat them raw.
We must point out another difference which deals with the way to consume oats. It is advisable to heat traditional oats in order to eat them because they tend to be sold completely raw. This is not a necessary step with instant oats, which can be consumed directly because they have been boiled previously.
Finally, we want to highlight that they have a different texture as well. Instant oats are softer and malleable while traditional oats have a hard and rough taste.
For all of this, we can conclude that traditional oats stand out as the only cereal that you can eat raw without experiencing bad digestions or any other harm to the body.
Regular and Whole Oats
It is a fact that society does not pay enough attention to whole grain cereals when they are actually a food that can be added to any diet. It has been established by experts in nutrition and dietetics that at least half of the cereals that we consume should be in their whole grain form while letting go from refined and enriched cereals.
There are important differences between whole oats and regular oats.
Whole oats or non-refined oats are those that still preserve the external tegument of the grain, the brain and the germ. This is due to the fact that they are not grounded, which helps to preserve the nutrients and all the potential of the product. This results in an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
On the other hand, regular or refined oats have undergone a grounding process in which they lose both the bran and the germ. This will directly change the texture due to their thinness and they will be more durable in the market. However, it is a physical process that alters the nutritional potential of oats significantly, since we take their essential components, such as soluble fiber.
Refined oats destabilize the levels of blood glucose, which produces a feeling of hunger little time after its consumption.
All in all, we can say that the consumption of whole oats is healthier because it lowers the risk of suffering from chronic processes such as hypertension or diabetes.
Oat Bran or Wheat Bran
The bran is the layer or tegument of any cereal that covers the grain, which ends up being the part with higher fiber content. But not all kinds of bran are the same, as we are going to see now.
Oat bran contains an important percentage of soluble fiber, which means that it is capable of retaining water. This means that it will become a kind of gel during its transit through the digestive system. This feature produces a very interesting effect: it surrounds and traps fat and hydrocarbon compounds which are of no use for the organism. Oat bran influences the excretion of these substances, since it regulates the levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose in the blood.
On the other hand, wheat bran is mainly made of insoluble fiber. Even though it is not able to become this gel we mentioned before, it has the ability to absorb water and facilitate the transit of food through the stomach and intestines. This increases the stool and improves the intestinal motility.
But let’s see what is the main difference between Oat Bran and Wheat Bran, the one that involves their richness in nutrients:
- A serving of 100g of oat bran provides approximately 230 kcal, 6.5g of fat, 16g of protein and 62 of carbs.
- If we want to get all these nutrients from wheat bran we would have to eat up to 115g more or less, since a serving of 60g (which equals 100g of oat bran in terms of volume) provides 125kcal, 2.5gr of fat, 9 of protein and 37.5 of carbs.
Overall, wheat bran provides a higher amount of fiber (which is why it is less dense) than oat bran. However, more than 90% of the fiber in wheat bran is insoluble, and 50-55% in oat bran. Wheat bran can help to excrete the stool easily due to its content in insoluble fiber which helps to relieve constipation problems. While oat bran, can be a good support to level the amount of blood glucose due to its high content in soluble fiber.
Both have high concentrations of essential minerals, except for calcium. It can be interesting to compare some numbers in order to illustrate the differences between both products: for example, phosphorus is more abundant in oat bran and it will contribute to meeting its daily intake a 10% more than wheat bran. However, wheat bran wins when it comes to the amount of potassium, zinc, selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium, and both are sodium-free. When it comes to vitamins, wheat bran provides more B1, B2, B6 and folic acid. However, both are practically irrelevant as sources of vitamins A,C, E, and K.
Regarding the influence of different types of bran in blood biochemical parameters, a study published in “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition” showed that the daily intake of 6g of soluble fiber from oat bran produces a significant pressure over high cholesterol and triglycerides, which limits the amount of energy that is absorbed from food as well.
Benefits and Properties of Oats
Oats are known as the king of cereals, due to their benefits for health in general and particularly because they are an excellent food to take care of our heart.
Oats contain beta glucans, a component that helps to regulate the levels of LDL cholesterol by absorbing both these elements as well as bile acids from the intestine and helping to eliminate them in a natural way. A daily intake of oats can help us reduce our cholesterol up to a 5%.
Moreover, this fiber slows down the absorption of carbs, which prevents a sudden increase of blood glucose. This is the reason why oats are recommended for those who suffer diabetes.
Another benefit is that oats prevent constipation. Since it is made up of soluble and insoluble fibers, it has the ability to soften the gastric mucosa, which facilitates the intestinal transit. Moreover, it produces a feeling of satiety that reduces appetite and helps us reach a healthy weight and to stay fit.
According to some studies, the qualities of oats could even have antidepressant properties, the ability to reduce the fatigue, prevent of baldness and improve the immune system.
Oats also have antioxidant elements and fibers that support a healthy cardiovascular system and they reduce the risk of suffering cancer. Moreover, it is a whole cereal that is rich in iodine, which prevents hyperthyroidism at the same time.
Nutritional profile per 39g of Oats
We can draw some conclusions from what we have previously explained about the benefits of eating oats regularly and how they can benefit different organs and systems like:
Oats, the brain and nervous system
Oats are an excellent tool to buffer the symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, or hyperactivity, as well as other disorders related to the nervous system thanks to their content in magnesium and some group B vitamins.
Oats and the skin
Oats have started to be used as a highly interesting ingredient in formulas of skin products when it comes to treating pathologies like dermatitis, acne, or psoriasis. This is due to the fact that they have a sedating and antipruritic effect (it relieves the itchiness).
Oats and the digestive system
It is recommended for cases of gastric acidity, hiatal hernia, and gastroduodenal ulcers. On the other hand, if they are bio oats, they can help to regulate the intestinal bacterial flora and to improve peristalsis, which fights against constipation.
Oats to reduce the cholesterol
Here, we must focus our attention on the levels of cholesterol. Oats have a remarkable ability to balance the distribution of LDL, or bad cholesterol, and HDL or good cholesterol.
Several studies have been published that show how this feature is related to the presence of β-glucans in their composition, which is a fraction of carbs that prevents the re-absorption of bile salts in the intestine. This stimulates their excretion through feces. This phenomenon lowers the levels of cholesterol in the blood.
In order to have a clear picture of how oats are related to this compound and to a cholesterol reduction, let’s say that eating 40 grams of oats daily provides almost half the necessary beta glucan to benefit from this feature.
Oats and other diseases
Oats is regarded as an ally in preventing the onset of malignant tumors which seems to be due to two factors:
- The role of fiber in the intestine consists of contributing to the excretion of waste substances that are produced by the organism itself (mainly during the digestion of fats) which often have cancerous properties.
- The effects of beta-glucans, which are clear enhancer of the immune system, which indirectly affects the onset of cancer. Moreover, it behaves like a shield for our DNA, which makes it even more difficult to develop the necessary mutations for the onset of tumors.
Oats and the cardiovascular system
According to the scientific Nutrition Journal, the regular consumption of oats reduces the risk of suffering cardiovascular disorders.
Oats and diabetes
A group of Canadian scientists has proven that oats can help to control diabetes.
Oats as an antioxidant element
They have an antioxidant function due some of their elements such as vitamin E, selenium, polyphenol, and other compounds called avenanthramides.
Oats reduce fatigue
Oats work as a remedy against fatigue. This effect is attributed to their seeds in which there is an alkaloid called trigonelline, whose biological function consists of stimulating the muscle fibers.
To this list of benefits we could also add other features that especially affect sportspeople, fertility and weight-loss diets:
- Avenasterol, which was previously mentioned, is a molecule that stimulates the fertility in women.
- The low glycemic index of the carbohydrates make of oats the perfect food for sportspeople, precisely because they need more energy, as well as antioxidants and a good dose of vitamins and minerals with which to optimize the neuromuscular functioning.
- Their satiating power plays an important role in weight-loss diets, we will develop this point in depth later in this article.
However, oats also have some disadvantages. Find them out here.
Properties of oats to shape up
The body needs a good supply of nutrients before any type of training, in order to compensate for the calories that are burned during this activity. If the diet is poor, the body will use other elements as fuel in order to have enough energy to function.
Under certain circumstances, it takes the energy from the breakdown of valuable muscle fibers. This is why oats and their great energy and protein supply are a great meal before and after training.
A good meal or an oat shake with proteins before going to the gym is a safe way to make sure that the body has what it needs for an intense workout session.
The meal after training is equally important, since it is a period when the muscles are more receptive to the macronutrients.
The proteins that are present in this cereal are very important, since they are necessary for the body to recover from the effort. They also help to repair the muscles or damaged tissue due to intense workouts, such as weight-lifting.
Since they repair the muscle tissue, they also allow the growth of new tissue, which is essentially the process of mass muscle gain. Proteins are essential for this to happen.
After burning so many calories during the workout, the body also needs carbs to recharge its energy deposits. Oats is a fantastic way of doing this and they also maintain the positive effects for a longer time due to their slow absorption rate.
Oats do not only provide energy and proteins for athletes, they also help to control the body weight, absorb fat, reduce the fatigue, avoid exhaustion, and provide an important supply of potassium for the body. These are some of the reasons why it is so important to add oats to our shakes or meals both before and after training.
Cosmetic uses of Oats
Oats are quite effective when they are applied on the skin: they regenerate the skin, provide elasticity, purify the skin, and they are useful against erythemas (flushing), eczemas and skin rashes caused by allergies.
A good way to test this is to undergone a peeling session combining oat flour, olive oil, and lemon juice. Then massage the areas where it is necessary to act.
Are Oats Fattening?
No, they help us to lose weight. They are actually a very useful food to lose weight, in fact, they are a key element in the diets of those who want to lose weight. However, we should not rely only on oats to achieve our objectives.
It is clear that oats are a natural tool to lose weight, but not only due to their satiating properties, which certainly play an important role, but especially for their nutritional composition.
First of all, let’s highlight the potential of oat water:
- Its richness in vitamins, minerals, and especially fiber limits the need to eat food between meals.
- It stimulates the excretion of harmful substances and toxins produced and stored by the organism.
- It has a diuretic effect that prevents the accumulation of liquids, which is usually one the factors that makes us gain weight.
On the other hand, we can say that oat flour:
- It sweeps the intestine due to its amount of soluble and insoluble fiber, which eliminates toxins and waste substances.
- When it reaches the gastric cavity and its juices, it grows in volume which is why it has satiating effect. For this reason, it is one of the most effective foods in order to relieve the anxiety and constant craving for food.
- Oats are one of the cereals with the least amount of carbs whose chemical structure makes them similar to the complex substances that make up fiber. This fact limits their storage as adipose deposits.
- Its richness in potassium and several group B vitamins stimulates the need to urinate, which is a determining factor in order to avoid liquid retention.
- Its protein content is an excellent tool in order to regulate the blood glucose and to control the production of insulin, which is usually unbalanced due to an increase in the fat deposits.
Oats and sports
Before carrying out any kind of physical exercise, the organism needs a supply of nutrients with which to make up for the loss of energy and minerals during its execution. Otherwise, it will need to use the energy deposits and sometimes, to break down of muscle fiber.
There are mainly two essential elements involved in this process: carbs and proteins. The latter helps to repair the muscle tissue and to enhance the growth of muscle mass. Carbohydrates are indispensable in order to recharge the energy reserves that are spent during a workout session.
In this situation, oats are a fantastic nutritional resource in order to meet the needs that have been previously described, both before and after training. Moreover, since oats are an excellent source of minerals, they also replenish them. On the other hand, their slow absorption carbohydrates provide a list of positive effects for the body.
There are antioxidant components that are only found in oats which are called avenanthramides. They are important due to the fact that they shorten the muscle recovery, since the muscles oxidize during situations of high physical demands.
For example, drinking an oat shake with something rich in proteins before training ensures that the organism will be ready to face an intense workout. In fact, it is quite common among those who go to the gym.
Avenanthramide and its antioxidant power
The fact that cereals supply antioxidants has been underestimated for a long time. This is due to the fact that the scientists have been using the wrong methods in order to measure the levels of antioxidants present in cereals.
Scientists at Cornell University (US) have found out that the antioxidants that are present in fruit and vegetables are available in their free form, while they are chained in a 99% of cereals. However, it does not matter if the antioxidants are free or chained, since they have identical effects.
The mistake, which has been recently discovered, was that they wanted to test the effects of chained antioxidants with methods used for free antioxidants. Due to this, it was mistakenly believed that cereals lacked antioxidants.
When white flour grain is processed, a great part of its antioxidant potential is lost, since an 83% of the antioxidants that are on the external layers of the grain are removed to obtain the flour. However, this does not occur with whole grain products, which provide an excellent antioxidant supply for the organism and enhance the effects of intestinal bacteria. This makes it one of the most efficient remedies for the health of the intestinal flora.
The antioxidants that are present in oats belong to the polyphenol group and they are called avenanthramides.
The properties of avenanthramides are extraordinary, since they do not allow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol which can cause a lot of problems when it becomes DAS, such as a the formation of deposits in the walls of the blood vessels.
The antioxidant protection provided by avenanthramides is enhanced when it is combined with vitamin C. That is why it is advisable to eat oats with citrus in order to increase its concentration of vitamin C.
Who can especially benefit from oats?
- Anyone who wants to add a healthy and natural product to their diet that provides energy and proteins of vegetable origin.
- All types of athletes and active people who are looking for a powerful carbohydrate with a low glycaemic index that will provide fiber and prolonged energy.
- Given the large number of vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbs that they contain, oats are an ideal food for the optimal growth of children.
- It is an ideal food for the elderly, since it improves the cardiovascular health (cholesterol regulation) and digestion (constipation relief).
- It is suitable for diabetics since it is a low glycemic index cereal.
- It is an excellent source of vegetable protein for vegetarians or vegans.