As you transition back to school or back to work, and out of summer vacation, it can be difficult to find foods that are quick and easy to make, while also still being healthy and sustaining. That’s why today we wanted to shine the spotlight on one of our favorite foods that fits all of that criteria: oats!
It’s easy to forget just how flexible oats can be. Sure, you can eat them for breakfast or lunch as oatmeal. But oats come in many tasty forms: granola, cookies, and other convenient baked goods. Combine this ease and flexibility with the many benefits we’ll dive into below, and you have one of the healthiest, most versatile snacks out there, especially for anyone in a crunch for time!
Why Oats? Health Benefits Galore
Many people are surprised to learn that oats are packed full of a wide variety of nutrients, including carbs, fiber, protein, and a multitude of amino acids.
Oats are also rich in vitamins and minerals that can be hard to find elsewhere, like:
- B Vitamins
- And much more
One kind of soluble fiber found in oats, known as beta glucan, has been shown to have a ton of benefits in its own right, ranging from increased feelings of fullness, to lower cholesterol levels, to improved growth of good bacteria in the gut.
The rich beta glucan content in oats may also help improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. Studies have shown mixed results in regard to this benefit, but it does make sense if you think about it. Beta glucan essentially forms a thick, gel-like substance in your gut which can delay the emptying of the stomach and uptake of glucose into the bloodstream.
But even if they don’t actively improve your insulin sensitivity, oats themselves have a very low glycemic index score, meaning they’re digested and metabolized slowly, resulting in a slower rise in blood sugar. If you’re interested in this benefit, however, make sure to opt for rolled oats. They’re much higher in soluble fiber and have a much lower glycemic index than instant oats.
Lastly, oats are so rich in oat bran and soluble fiber that they’re well-digested by nearly everyone. In fact, oats can relieve many digestive issues, including constipation. Oat bran has also been shown to decrease gastrointestinal symptoms and aid digestion in people with ulcerative colitis.
Why Oats are the Perfect Meal & Snack for Back to School
Ok, so oats are great, but why do we particularly like them for folks heading back to school or work? A couple reasons:
Filling & Sustaining Fuel
The high fiber content in oats means they keep you full and sustained for long periods of time. And since beta glucan helps slow the release of glucose into the blood, there are no huge swings or crashes in energy. Instead, oats give you a sustained release of energy for many hours. This is great not just for your health (since it keeps you full and from overeating) but also for keeping you focused and energized throughout your day. This makes oats a great lunch or afternoon snack, as these are times when many people overeat or eat something not-so-great while they’re crunched for time. Afterward, it’s easy to fall into an energy slump or crash for the rest of the afternoon. If you or your kids have been struggling with that lately, maybe consider giving oats a shot.
Also, for all of the benefits you get from one cup of oats, you’re only consuming 303 calories while getting 51 grams of carbs, 13 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, and 8 grams of fiber, plus all the other nutrients we mentioned earlier. So oats are one of the lowest calorie, most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.
Oatmeal Cookies vs. Oatmeal
Oats don’t just offer all the benefits detailed above, they also come in a bunch of varieties: granola, cookies, plain old oatmeal, and more. There’s something to love for everyone. However, not all oats are created equal.
Just as rolled oats are a healthier choice than instant oats, the nutritional quality of oatmeal cookies, granolas, and muffins can also vary widely. Most oatmeal cookies are loaded with sugar, which totally detracts from the benefits of oats (low glycemic index, sustained energy, etc).
At Maxine’s Heavenly, we wanted to create a cookie that tastes great, but also makes you feel great. All of our cookies are made with oats as their first ingredient, then sweetened with dates and coconut sugar, for a much healthier, filling, and sustaining cookie (AKA: no sugar rushes or crashes).
All of our soft-baked cookies have visible oats, and our crispy cookies use oat flour, which is simply ground up oats (so you don’t have the appearance of visible chunks of oats).
So next time you’re on the go, and need delicious, healthy oatmeal cookies in all of your favorite flavors… Try some Maxine’s Heavenly Cookies!
By the way, if you enjoyed this article, you’ll love our other blogs on oats and oatmeal: