There are, of course, plenty of options for a delicious breakfast. But few things go down as well as a hot bowl of porridge. And its delicious taste can be aided by some very tasty toppings – like fruit or honey. But a famed YouTuber got oatmeal fans talking when she revealed a strange hack on social media.
The reaction to the tip was pretty significant – highlighting that lots of people love their porridge in the morning. So keeping that in mind, we have to ask: why is it a go-to breakfast dish? Besides the great taste, does oatmeal have any kind of impact on your body for the day ahead?
Well, oatmeal is an incredibly healthy choice in comparison to some other breakfast options. A single bowl is packed full of nutrients, and it’s not too heavy on calories either. Sounds perfect! But what specific contents can you find in typical serving?
To break things down, the Healthline medical website analyzed a 78-gram serving of “dry oats.” That measurement housed a jaw-dropping amount of manganese – covering close to 200 percent of your recommended daily intake. Yes, you’re reading that correctly! You’ll also find over one-third of your daily required magnesium and phosphorus in there, too.
Healthline noted that the aforementioned serving had helpings of vitamins B1 and B5 as well. And you’ll also take in 51 grams of carbohydrates and 303 calories. So, it’s fair to say that porridge isn’t a one-trick pony when it comes to nutritional value.
But aside from the nutrients, how else does oatmeal help your body? Well, let’s take a look at some examples. If you eat a bowl of it in the morning, you might not feel the need to eat anything else over the next few hours. There’s seemingly no hunger to satiate.
Oatmeal has a large amount of beta-glucan, which helps you feel fuller for longer. And according to Healthline, this form of fiber may also help release something called peptide YY (PYY). This so-called satiety hormone can apparently promote reduced calorie intake and even reduce your risk of obesity.
Simply put, if you don’t feel hungry, you’re less likely to eat stuff between your main meals during the day. A bowl of oatmeal in the morning could be just what you need when you’re aiming to shed some pounds. Then again, that’s not the only benefit that comes from adding it to your breakfast options.
The Irish Independent newspaper took a closer look at what happens to your body after consuming porridge at the start of the day. The publication reported that the fiber contents and “slow-digesting” carbs will give your blood a steady stream of sugar for the next few hours. But how does that actually work?
Your body gets a sustained boost of energy throughout the morning as it takes in the porridge’s helping of sugar over a prolonged period. So, if you struggle to navigate that period of the day, oatmeal could be the answer! You can probably see, then, why people opt for the tasty dish for breakfast.
But did you know that there are other types of porridge that veer away from the traditional sweet options? If you didn’t, the following bit of information could blow your mind. You see, savory oatmeal is a thing, and it’s only growing in popularity at the moment.
It’s a difficult concept to wrap your head around to begin with. After all, a hot bowl of porridge should always taste sweet, right? How could savory flavors replace that? We can understand if it sounds like a recipe for disaster in your mind, yet these unique dishes might actually be healthier choices.
Yes, we can sense your doubts, but bare with us! Should you add a helping of cherries to your oatmeal, for instance, the sugar contents in the bowl will increase. WebMD reported that a cup of the delicious fruit houses roughly 18 grams. And it’s not the only produce to boast a high number.
Grapes, pears and bananas have their fair share of sugar as well. Mind you, mangoes beat all of them in that department. The medical website noted that a single mango houses about 45 grams. That’s crazy! Imagine adding that to your porridge for breakfast. Now, let’s look at a savory alternative.
Spinach is an ingredient that you’d find in certain savory oatmeal dishes. According to food expert Daisy Whitbread, one cup of the vegetable contains 0.1 grams of sugar. And even if you bumped the measurement up to 100 grams, the count would only increase to 0.4. Incredibly, that’s the equivalent of one-tenth of a tiny teaspoon.
Quite the contrast, right? But if you thought spinach was a unique topping to include with porridge, you haven’t seen anything yet! There’s a whole host of seemingly strange ingredients when it comes to savory oatmeal recipes. Keeping that in mind, the YouTuber’s hack that we mentioned earlier is particularly intriguing.
What are some of the other toppings then? Well, the MOMA Foods website revealed that you can create a “full English” porridge with some eggs and bacon. Alternatively, spinach and garlic is a different combination to consider if you fancy a bit of veg in your oatmeal.
And it doesn’t stop there! For instance, Bon Appétit magazine noted that toppings can also range from preserved meats to fish sauce. These savory porridge bowls can be enjoyed at any point during the day – they’re not just restricted to breakfast. Plus, they’ve been embraced by restaurants around America in recent years, too.
Here’s the thing, though. While this might sound like a brand new trend that’s been dreamed up, the idea behind savory oatmeal isn’t recent. It actually has ties to dishes that span back decades – maybe even generations. To go into more detail, a cook spoke with Bon Appétit in 2015.
His name is Justin Devillier, and he worked at the restaurant La Petite Grocery in New Orleans, Louisiana. The chef explained that his “savory rice” oatmeal bore a resemblance to classic meals from Asia. And Devillier cited congee as an example. Plus, there was a local inspiration in there, too.
Devillier’s oatmeal also had similarities to grit dishes from the southern states as well. Mind you, he wasn’t afraid to get creative with the porridge. Bon Appétit revealed that the New Orleans cook would throw in items like bottarga, sauteed ham and other preserved meats. That’s quite a selection, right?
On the other side of the country, a fairly recent establishment had opened up in Los Angeles, California. It was named Porridge and Puffs, so no prizes for guessing what they specialized in! That place, in fact, had a menu that was purely dedicated to savory oatmeal dishes.
But it gets even cooler. You see, each dish takes inspiration from different cultural recipes. They haven’t just been thrown together at random. Sticking with that point, the proprietor of Porridge and Puffs opened up about the menu to Bon Appétit. And you might recognize a few of her influences.
Minh Phan told the publication, “Grød, groats, kasha, risotto, polenta, grits, atole, champurrado, genfo, jook, juk, congee, okayu, lugaw are all porridge. I’m Vietnamese and grew up with cháo.” Then again, one item on the Porridge and Puffs menu really caught the attention of the locals as business got going.
To explain more, Phan sat down for an interview with the Eater Los Angeles website in July 2019. Porridge and Puffs was firmly established in the city by this point and had even won the Eater’s “Best Neighborhood Restaurant” gong the previous year. Yet as we just mentioned, a particular oatmeal continued to confound certain customers.
Phan said, “It takes so many words sometimes just to explain what chicken porridge is. This is just really good food. We’re making the best chicken porridge that we can – just changing out a flower or an herb quietly. I feel like we’ve been misrepresented as a fancy place, but we’re just trying to make the best chicken porridge.”
We don’t know about you, but Phan has us sold! So, there are clearly lots of options if you want to try savory porridge at some point. That also brings back to the hack that we spoke of earlier. What was it? And why did it create such a stir on social media?
Well, that was somewhat down to the person behind the message. An Australian woman called Natalie Tran made the post on Twitter in June 2019. She’s probably best known for her work on YouTube, as she shares videos via the so-called communitychannel account. At the time of writing, those clips have earned more than 168 million views on the platform!
Tran revealed her new favorite oatmeal topping in that tweet. She wrote, “About 16 years ago, my first boyfriend’s father told me to forget adding sweet stuff to porridge and try using a dollop of butter instead. About a week ago I started [using vegan butter] and not to be dramatic, but it’s been incredible and I might add him to my will.”
Compared to some of the other ingredients that we’ve discussed so far, vegan butter might sound fairly normal. But what kind of an impact could it have on your health by adding it to porridge? To help answer that question, Healthline analyzed a particular brand’s properties.
The label in question was Earth Balance, and the health website broke down a tablespoon measurement of its vegan butter. Unsurprisingly, the spread contained no cholesterol at all. The calorie count stood at 100, which is slightly lower than its dairy counterpart, and the saturated fat reading was only 3.5 grams.
But it wasn’t all positive. For instance, the vegan butter still contained 11 grams of fat – compared to the 11.5 grams in a regular, unsalted spread. Plus, it housed roughly 120 milligrams of sodium. No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you!
That figure dwarfs the 2 milligrams of sodium that you’d find in the same measurement of unsalted butter. So, large servings of the vegan option are probably best to be avoided. After all, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration state that people shouldn’t surpass 2,300 milligrams of the mineral each day.
So, it’s fair to say that vegan butter’s a bit of mixed bag on the nutritional front. But how did social media users react to Tran’s tweet? Well, like we noted before, it created a bit of a buzz on Twitter. And it even attracted the attention of U.K. newspaper the Daily Mirror in June 2019.
Tran’s message has racked up roughly 3,200 likes and just under 100 retweets at the time of writing. It also generated numerous comments, as online users shared their thoughts on her porridge preferences. One individual certainly had mixed feelings about it, writing, “This sounds like something that is vile to witness but heavenly to experience.”
A different user suggested that Tran could try an alternative spread in her oatmeal, along with another topping. They said, “I learned as a teenager [that] salty and sweet in porridge is even better. Salted butter and golden syrup. You won’t regret it.” Is anyone else getting hungry here?
Anyway, Tran wasn’t the only person to vouch for the topping on Twitter. One of the replies in the comment section read, “That’s how I grew up eating porridge – plus cinnamon and sugar of course. These days I’ve been experimenting with savory oat dishes and oh my goodness, they’re delicious.”
Unsurprisingly, there were individuals who really couldn’t see the appeal of vegan butter topping. They listed off their preferences instead, which ranged from crunchy peanut butter to miso. Then, a user claimed that Vegemite was the perfect product to spruce up their porridge. And you thought chicken oatmeal was odd!
But as bizarre as some of these combinations are, there’s a recipe out there that’s arguably the strangest of the lot. MOMA Foods shared the dish via its website, and it’ll either leave your mouth watering or turn your stomach. Ready? Okay, here we go. According to the site, you can make a chili and coconut porridge.
Yep, we can only imagine what that tastes like! To round off the recipe, you could throw in some extra items like coriander or spring onions as well. It’s quite a mix, yet fans of spicy dishes might feel the temptation to give it a try. Who knows, maybe it’ll click like vegan butter did with Tran.
With all these delicious recipes stored in your mental cookbook, you’ll probably be racing to get to the kitchen. But is oatmeal really as good as it’s cracked up to be? Before you rush off to whip up a bowl, it might be worth sparing a thought about what those tiny little oats are actually doing to your body.
These days everybody loves oatmeal. That’s not just our opinion, either; it’s a certifiable fact. Don’t believe us? Well, according to Zion Market Research, in 2016 the international oatmeal industry was worth approximately $2 billion – and will be valued at $2.5 billion in 2022. Part of the reason for this, the experts argue, is people’s current desire to lead healthy lifestyles. And when we think of oatmeal, we seemingly automatically equate it with good nutrition. But is this delicious breakfast staple really that great for you?
It certainly seems that the question is worth consideration – particularly as consumers in the U.S. are buying oats in droves. In fact, data released via Information Resources, Inc. stated that Americans forked out over $1.3 billion on oatmeal or hot cereal over the course of 2018. This figure also represents a 1.3 percent increase from the previous year. And that’s almost double the amount that was spent two decades ago.
Yet anybody who’s traveled up the aisles of grocery stores knows that there are a number of different oatmeal varieties available from which to choose. The most common names that you’re likely to see in your local shop are, then, oat groats, rolled oats, steel-cut oats, instant oats and Scottish oats. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, each type serves a different purpose.
But don’t worry too much about the names. After all, each variety is derived from the same basic hulled oats. So why the different types? Well, it actually comes down to how much the grain has been processed. And the various health benefits or side effects will differ, of course, depending on which sort is your preference.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that all kinds of oats need at least some form of processing. This is because you simply cannot consume them as they are when they’ve just been plucked from a farmer’s field. And the reason for this is fairly self-evident: unprocessed oats are surrounded by tough outer shells. That’s why the husks need to be removed prior to eating.
Once the shells have been taken away, then, you’re left with your oat groats. You can, of course, purchase whole oat groats from the grocery store to make your oatmeal in the morning. There’s a chance you won’t do that, however, as this variety takes longer to cook and can still maintain a notable fibrous consistency.
And that extra cooking time is why other varieties of oats are subject to further processing. Take steel-cut oats, for example. As the name suggests, steel-cut oats have been – you guessed it – sliced into small sizes with a steel instrument. This procedure obviously makes the grains smaller and therefore easier to turn into oatmeal.
Another kind of processing, meanwhile, results in rolled oats. These are steamed and then squashed until level. And the rolled – or old-fashioned – oats are subsequently left to dry so that they can happily sit in your cupboard for extended periods of time. Again, this process also means that they don’t take as long to cook.
There are, of course, two other kinds of oats: Scottish and instant. For the former, the oats are simply reduced to meal. And for the latter, you likely won’t be surprised to hear, the groats are put through a longer steaming and leveling process. In addition, they’re potentially even cooked a little, so that you can get oatmeal in a flash at home.
Yet while this level of understanding is certainly interesting, you shouldn’t be put off any one of kind of oats based on the processing that goes into it. After all, no matter which variety you choose, you’ll still be consuming whole grains. And on the balance of things, this means that the nutritional aspects of the oats are in fact roughly the same.
You can also use any of these oat varieties to make your breakfast. Typically, this would involve cooking the oats in milk or water until you get the kind of consistency that you like. You can obviously also add all sorts of flavors and toppings to your oatmeal, including fruit, yogurt and nut butters. But we’re only concerned with the actual oatmeal here.
So, let’s deal with the good stuff first. After all, in 2018 Professor Shengmin Sang of A & T State University in North Carolina told Time magazine, “Based on the existing evidence, eating whole grain oats is definitely good for our health.” Specifically, Sang noted that oats can help keep diabetes and cholesterol levels in check.
But why are oats so good for these particular health issues? Well, it’s partly down to beta-glucan fiber – something that the grain has in abundance. “Fiber is good for so many things throughout the digestive tract,” Minnesota University’s Professor Joanne Slavin, an expert in nutrition and food science, confirmed to Time magazine.
In fact, oats have significantly more beta-glucan fiber than many other grains. Which could explain why they are considered to be so beneficial for your gut. But how does it work? Well, according to Harvard’s The Nutrition Source website, this soluble fiber attracts cholesterol-stuffed bile acids and helps us to pass them.
Of course, this has led to the consumption of oats being associated with lowering cholesterol levels. The Nutrition Source does state, however, that the evidence to support this is not so clear-cut. That’s because while some studies have indeed concluded that eating beta-glucan can decrease cholesterol, others have not declared particularly significant results.
Yet, as we’ve heard, beta-glucan is useful for a number of other reasons. For one thing, it helps to prevent your digestive system from working so quickly. This in turn means that the speed with which nutrients are processed by the body is also decreased. And so, eating oats won’t provide a quick hit of energy followed by a slump – like, say, snacking on a chocolate bar might.
Plus, this wonderful fiber slows down digestion because it absorbs water on its way through your gut. This then makes the food that you’ve eaten thicker and more voluminous. And as well as resulting in the slow release of energy, the process can also allow you to feel fuller for longer.
It’s no doubt for this reason that oatmeal is often suggested as a good breakfast for those seeking to lose weight. In fact, there’s even a quick-fix fad out there known as the “oatmeal diet.” Practitioners are initially encouraged to eat nothing but oatmeal three times a day. But such a low-calorie, restrictive diet is not actually advised by experts – and could even be harmful.
In any case, the point is that if oatmeal – as part of a healthy, balanced diet – slows down your digestion, it could leave you feeling more satisfied. This, in turn, makes you less likely to eat unhealthy snacks throughout the day. And that’s why the grain can be helpful in controlling waist lines across the world.
There are other healthy benefits to consuming oatmeal as well. First and foremost among these is its ability to aid in the fight against diabetes. This could be particularly good news, considering that the CDC announced in 2017 that over 100 million U.S. citizens could currently have diabetes or be pre-diabetic.
The CDC also advised that of the 30 million people in the U.S. with diabetes, around 27 million of them suffer with type 2 diabetes. And that particular form of the condition means that the sufferer’s body can’t cope well with glucose, which is a kind of sugar. So, someone with type 2 diabetes needs to be wary of foods that could quickly increase their blood sugar levels.
Of course, some foods with large amounts of sugar are easy to spot. These could include, say, white chocolate, candy, cakes or desserts. But sufferers may also need to watch out for the naturally occurring sugars in dairy, veg and fruit. And then there is also the possibility of having to watch out for carbohydrate-rich foods that have high glycemic loads.
What is a glycemic load, you ask? Essentially, it lets you know how fast the portion of carbohydrates in your food will spike your blood sugar levels. So foods with high glycemic loads will boost those levels very quickly, while foods with low glycemic loads will be more gentle. And this is where oats come in.
So while all kinds of oats are packed with carbohydrates, steel-cut oats have a relatively low glycemic load. This means that even those suffering from diabetes can likely consume them because the beta-glucan fiber just might stop those spikes in blood glucose levels. The Nutrition Source website, however, advises against eating instant oats.
This could be particularly welcome news for those with type 2 diabetes. That’s because the condition – which can be extremely serious – can in some cases be reversible through careful diet and work out regimes. It’s always worth consulting a medical professional before undertaking any lifestyle changes, mind you.
There are a couple of other noteworthy oat-related benefits, too. And the first is likely evident for anyone who has been paying attention. That is to say that oats are good for your gut. In fact, The Nutrition Source states that consuming oats regularly will probably help you to poop easier than ever before.
This is due to the oats’ high fiber content, which is reportedly even better than that found in vegetables or fruit. And what’s more, oats’ beta-glucans could improve the microbial population of your digestive system – which, believe it or not, is very a good thing. But it’s not just the inside of your body that can be improved by the consumption of oats.
You see, the final benefit that we’ll discuss here concerns a pair of chemicals that are found within the oats. These are known as phytoestrogens and phenolic compounds. And while these words seem pretty science-y and hard to pronounce, they may actually help you to improve the appearance of your skin.
Specifically, these plant chemicals may work to decrease organ inflammation that could reoccur due to conditions such as diabetes. And according to SFGate, a 2013 study suggested that oats may also fight the signs of aging on the skin. So, as you can see, consuming oats has a wealth of potential health benefits. But is the food purely a force for good?
Well, as you can probably tell, the evidence is all for a resounding yes to this question. But it’s worth bearing in mind that there are a few provisos to the above advice. So before you head down to the oats aisle of your local grocery store, read on for some sage oatmeal-perfection suggestions.
Of particular concern to those who are sensitive to gluten is the possibility of the substance contaminating their oats. On their own, the whole grains are, of course, naturally free from gluten. But as researcher Ronald Fritz told Time magazine, there is always the chance that they could be befouled with the substance during the journey from field to spoon.
Fritz clarified, “Oats can be contaminated with gluten containing kernels of wheat, barley and rye at the field during storage or during transportation.” Why should this matter? Well, for the 1 percent of people suffering from celiac disease, consumption of gluten is very bad news for their guts. But those with gluten sensitivities could also be affected.
That’s because those with non-celiac sensitivities can still suffer from grievances of the gut immediately after eating gluten. It seems as though scientists don’t truly understand how this works, but it is clear that it can be uncomfortable for those with the condition. There’s also one other thing to take into consideration when selecting oats.
And that is how you prepare them prior to consumption. It sounds obvious, but the health benefits outlined previously will all come to nothing if you then pile your oatmeal high with sugars or various other additives. And for the experts, it seems to be the instant-oat varieties that are the worst culprits.
For instance, The Independent reported a shocking statistic in 2017. It said that a single pot of Quaker Oats So Simple’s golden syrup instant porridge – available in the U.K. – contained more than four teaspoons of added sugar. Unbelievably, that equates to over 50 percent of an adult’s recommended day-to-day quota of sugar intake.
As we’ve seen, too, this increased sugar would certainly not be a good thing for anyone suffering with, or predisposed to, type 2 diabetes. But being cautious with your choices can combat this easily. For instance, the “original” flavor of Quaker’s instant oatmeal range contains no added sugar at all.
Another method of keeping your sugar consumption in check is simply preparing your oatmeal at home from scratch. This is normally quick and pretty straight-forward, and there is no shortage of oatmeal ideas available online. So here we’ll just outline two popular ways of making healthy, balanced breakfasts with everyday ingredients.
The first is using the instructions on the packet of your chosen (sugar-free) oats to prepare the oatmeal, usually using milk or water or a combination of the two. And then, once the oats are done, you can incorporate healthy extras such as fruit, seeds or nuts. For rolled oats, this will take around five minutes. Steel-cuts oats will take longer and instant oats will be done in no time at all.
But if this still sounds like too much work, you can always go down the overnight oats route. This involves simply popping your oats, chosen liquid and additional extras together in a jar, bowl or other container the night before you want to eat your oatmeal. Then mix and cover your serving and pop it into the fridge until morning. Just be aware that you can’t use instant oats for this method.
So is oatmeal a good breakfast that you can eat every day? The short answer is, of course, yes. Whether you choose instant, steel-cut or rolled, oats offer a myriad of health benefits that are difficult to argue against. The only things to be wary of are gluten contamination and added sugar.