Though brand name cereals or staples like bacon and eggs might be the most popular choices at the breakfast table, few foods pack as nutritious a punch as oatmeal.
While packets of instant oatmeal are popular (and convenient) choices, they are often loaded with sodium and sugar, which can compromise the nutritional benefits of the oats. In fact, some instant oatmeal packets contain as much as eight teaspoons of sugar per serving (it is recommended that women consume 6 or fewer teaspoons of sugar a day). Store-bought plain rolled oats, or steel-cut oats, are typically nutritious and low in both sugar and sodium.
Oatmeal can provide a great start to your day and pay other dividends as well, though it’s important that consumers read package labels so they are getting the nutritional benefits of whole grain oats without the added sugar and sodium. The following are three of the many ways a morning bowl of oatmeal can benefit your body.
1. Oatmeal can help lower “bad” cholesterol
According to the Mayo Clinic, oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. And it doesn’t even take much soluble fiber to reap such benefits. Five to 10 grams of soluble fiber per day has been shown to decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is commonly referred to as “LDL” or “bad” cholesterol. A single serving of whole grain rolled oats provides up to 1.6 grams of soluble fiber, helping you get get a healthy head start on lowering your LDL throughout the day.
2. Oatmeal is loaded with vitamins and minerals
Oats contain a well-balanced nutrient composition that can help you get well on your way to consuming your recommended daily intake of various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For example, half a cup of oats contains 41 percent of the recommended daily intake of phosphorous and 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron. That same serving contains 51 grams of carbohydrates and 13 grams of protein.
3. Oatmeal can help you maintain a healthy weight
Oatmeal, so long as it isn’t instant oatmeal, is one of the rare foods that’s both filling and low in calories. That makes it an ideal choice for those who want a hearty breakfast that won’t affect their waistlines. Oatmeal is filling because of its fiber content. Unlike other carbohydrates, fiber does not break down into sugar once it’s consumed. When fiber is consumed, it absorbs water and takes up space in the stomach, leading to feelings of fullness that can prevent overeating..