Oatmeal is available for human consumption in five different forms. From least processed to most, they are oat groats, steel-cut oats, Scottish oats, rolled or old-fashioned oats, and quick or instant oatmeal. The shelves of your supermarket probably hold many varieties of oatmeal. Like most foods, the least processed is the healthiest, but many people opt for the types that they can prepare quickly and easily.
The beta-glucan soluble fiber promotes regular emptying of the bowel and prevents constipation. It also supports healthy gut bacteria, which may reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other intestinal problems.
Soluble fiber like the beta-glucan in oatmeal lowers cholesterol. In one study, those who ate oat bran experienced a 23% drop in total cholesterol. Researchers believe that several mechanisms in the body are responsible for lower cholesterol.
Oats are high in antioxidants called avenanthramides, not found in other cereal grains. These antioxidants reduce inflammation and relax arteries, improving heart health.
The soluble fiber in certain oats can keep blood sugar from rising after a meal. The glycemic load of less-processed oats is low to medium, making them suitable carbohydrates for those with diabetes. Those who have diabetes should avoid instant oatmeal, which has a high glycemic index.
Eating fiber-rich foods like oatmeal produces a feeling of satisfaction, which can make it less likely that you will overeat. The particular fiber in oatmeal, beta-glucan, makes the contents of the intestines very viscous and may make you feel full longer.
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