Oat was actually discovered as a weed in barley and wheat crops in late prehistoric period. So what was being fed to horses and poultry came to be used extensively used by humans when we realized its profound health benefits attributable to its fiber quality and quantity. Its overall nutritional composition is very similar to that of barley. Barley can be considered as a desi equivalent of oats but remains an underdog to less aggressive marketing and research by natives.
Nevertheless, the nutritive value of oats makes it a worthy grain for inclusion in daily diet and especially in breakfast!
Health effects of oats
- Oats contain soluble fiber beta-glucan which can lower cholesterol and prevent post meal surge in blood sugar
- Oats are high in fibre so they increase satiety from meal and reduce total food intake
- Oats contain antioxidants called avenanthramides that increase production of nitric oxide, a gas that causes dilation of blood vessels improving blood flow. Hence, oats may have beneficial effect on blood pressure control
- The beta glucans from oats are known to cause release of satiety hormones that in turn prevent overeating and thereby obesity
- Oat bran, consisting of outer husk layer, can help relieve constipation especially in the vulnerable group such as elderly.
- Oats are fairly rich in vitamins and minerals such as manganese, phosphorous, iron and B vitamins making them a nutrient dense whole grain
Caution in choosing Oats
- Look at the ingredient list for whole grain oats. Whole Grain oats retain the bran and endosperm and are more fibrous. One should look for steel-cut oats or rolled oats (see image) instead of instant oatmeal or porridge.
- Avoid prepackaged oatmeal that may be high in both sodium and sugar and lower in beneficial fiber.
Breakfast recipes using oats
Oat flour can be added to idli, dosa, pessaruttu, adai, appam batters
Oat meal can be added to semolina/ vermicelli upma or vegetable dalia
Oat flour can also be added to Gujarati snacks such as dhokla, handwa, muthia batter
Oat flakes can be used for preparing poha instead of rice flakes
Oats porridge is a better option than corn flakes (high in sodium, low in fiber) and wheat flakes (sweetened and contain sodium) as it is free of additives and flavours. Oats being absolutely neutral in taste can be added to a variety of dishes without altering the taste.
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