Oatmeal is a popular food item. It has a very good nutrient profile and contains many healthy ingredients. It is rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. For this reason, it should definitely be part of a balanced diet, unless there are health restrictions.
Nutritional Values of Oatmeal
The nutritional values of oatmeal are as follows:
- Energy / Calories: 379 kcal
- Protein: 13.15 g
- Fat: 6.52 g
- Carbohydrates: 67.7 g (of which 1 g is sugar)
- Fiber: 10.1 g
You can find the nutritional values of cooked oatmeal here.
In vegan diets, protein is often scarce. Oats contain high-quality protein with a good balance of amino acids (source). Therefore, oatmeal provides a significant amount of valuable proteins, including some essential amino acids. Like most plant-based foods, they do not contain a complete range of essential amino acids that the body needs. Nevertheless, oatmeal contributes to meeting the body's protein requirements. Proteins are important for muscle building, tissue repair, and a variety of metabolic processes.
In addition, oatmeal contains a decent amount of complex carbohydrates. These are digested more slowly, releasing energy gradually and resulting in a more stable blood sugar level. Unlike simple carbohydrates found in sugary snacks and sweet beverages, oatmeal provides sustained energy and can prevent cravings.
Starch, composed of long chains of glucose molecules, is the major component of oatmeal. Oatmeal belongs to starchy foods. The starch in oats differs from the starch in other grains as it has a higher fat content and viscosity. This means it can better bind with water. The increased viscosity of oat starch results in slower digestion.
Oatmeal contains very little sugar, making it a part of low-sugar foods.
Oatmeal has a relatively moderate glycemic index (GI) of 55. The glycemic index indicates how quickly and significantly a carbohydrate-rich food raises blood sugar levels after consumption. The GI is measured on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 representing the highest increase and referring to the effect of pure glucose.
Oat flakes are also rich in fiber, especially in the soluble fiber called beta-glucans (source). The highest amounts are found in oat bran (⇒ Oat Bran Nutrition Facts). Beta-glucans make the contents of the intestines very viscous. They can promote a feeling of satiety and help with weight loss. They are also beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.
Oat flakes also contain small amounts of insoluble fibers such as lignin, arabinoxylan (hemicellulose), and cellulose (source). These fibers are an important component of oats and contribute to the grain's health benefits. They bind water, increasing stool volume. As a result, they can promote intestinal health and help prevent constipation.
Oat Flakes Fat
Oats have a higher fat content compared to other grain varieties. The fats in oatmeal consist mainly of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids with very little saturated fat. This means that oatmeal is a healthy source of fats.
Omega-3 Omega-6 Ratio of Oatmeal
Significant amounts of omega-3 or omega-6 are not present. The predominant part consists of omega-6 fatty acids (2.99 g per 100 g). Omega-3 fatty acids are present in the form of alpha-linolenic acid with 0.11 g. This results in an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of approximately 1:27.
The calories in oatmeal primarily come from the carbohydrates it contains. About 66% of the calories are from carbohydrates, making it a good source of energy. Oatmeal has a high nutrient density, meaning it contains many essential nutrients per calorie.
Oatmeal contains many minerals. The following are particularly abundant:
- Manganese: It is important for development, growth, as well as the synthesis and breakdown of glucose.
- Iron: As a component of hemoglobin, a protein responsible for oxygen transport in the blood, iron is absolutely essential in human nutrition.
- Phosphorus: It is needed for bone health and tissue maintenance.
- Copper: As an antioxidant mineral often lacking in the Western diet, copper is considered important for heart health.
- Selenium: This antioxidant is crucial for various processes in your body. Low selenium levels have been associated with impaired immune and cognitive function.
- Magnesium: This mineral is often deficient in the diet and is important for numerous processes in the body, such as muscle contraction, nerve function, energy production, and maintaining a healthy heart rhythm.
- Zinc: This mineral is involved in many chemical reactions in the body and is important for overall health.
- Molybdenum: This essential trace element serves as a cofactor for various enzymes in the body. It is needed for amino acid breakdown and detoxification of heavy metals.
Oat Flake Vitamins
The notable vitamins are biotin and vitamin B1 (thiamine):
- Biotin: An important B-vitamin for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fatty acids, and amino acids. It is needed for healthy hair, skin, and nails.
- Vitamin B1: Used in carbohydrate metabolism and energy production from food.
Secondary Plant Compounds
Phenolic compounds in oats, as well as other antioxidants, offer health benefits (source). Oats possess an antioxidant capacity primarily due to the presence of tocopherols, tocotrienols, phytic acid, flavonoids, and non-flavonoid phenolic compounds such as avenanthramides (AVA).
Oats or oat flakes are known for a unique group of antioxidants called avenanthramides, which are abundant in oats (source). Studies have shown that AVAs possess an antioxidant activity that is 10 to 30 times higher than that of other phenolic antioxidants such as vanillin and caffeic acid. Additionally, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative (against tissue proliferation), and anti-itch effects have been documented (source).
Oat flakes are a gluten-free food
Most people with celiac disease tolerate oats well, as they are naturally gluten-free. However, there is a risk of cross-contamination of oats with gluten-containing grains. As long as the gluten content does not exceed 20 parts per million (ppm), oats are considered gluten-free according to the European Commission (source). To reduce the risk of contamination, it is advisable to choose brands that are explicitly labeled as gluten-free.
The less processed the oatmeal, the more nutrients, ingredients, and fiber it retains.
Oatmeal can be eaten raw, soaked overnight (overnight oats), or prepared as hot porridge. You can cook them on the stove or in the microwave with water or plant-based milk alternatives. The quickest and easiest type of oatmeal is instant oats or quick oats. They are pre-cooked and then dried, requiring only a short preparation time. This type of oatmeal is excellent for people who have little time or are on the go.
Oatmeal can also be used as a substitute for breadcrumbs or as a binder, such as in cake batter or pancakes. Use oatmeal to add fiber and texture to bread and cookies or make your own granola.
Here are a few vegan recipe ideas:
- Porridge: Cook oatmeal with plant-based milk or water and add fruit and nuts.
- Muesli: Mix oatmeal with dried fruits, seeds, and nuts and enjoy it with plant-based milk or vegan yogurt.
- Cookies: Bake delicious vegan cookies with oatmeal, flour, sugar, and vegan butter.
- Smoothie: Blend oatmeal with fruit, plant-based milk, and some ice for a refreshing smoothie.
- Energy balls: Combine oatmeal with nuts, dates, and coconut oil, shape them into balls, and chill them in the refrigerator.
- Apple pie: Prepare an apple pie with oatmeal, apples, cinnamon, and vegan margarine.
- Granola bars: Mix oatmeal, nuts, dried fruits, and maple syrup, then bake them into granola bars.
- Banana pancakes: Blend oatmeal, bananas, and plant-based milk into a batter and fry pancakes from it.
- Green smoothie: Blend oatmeal with spinach or kale, banana, plant-based milk, and a little agave syrup.
- Pudding: Stir oatmeal with plant-based milk, chia seeds, and sweet spices and let it soak overnight.
- Granola: Bake crunchy granola with oatmeal, nuts, coconut oil, and maple syrup.
- Veggie patties: Mix oatmeal with mashed beans or vegetables and shape them into patties that you fry or bake.
- Chocolate cake: Bake a moist chocolate cake with oatmeal, cocoa, soy milk, and oil.