Oat grains grow best in cool climates that get lots of rain, which made them a staple part of the diet for England, Scotland and Ireland throughout history. Traditionally eaten as a hot porridge, this whole grain has a mild, sweet flavor and is one of the most naturally satiating foods available. Oats almost never have their bran and germ removed in processing, so whether you eat instant oats, old-fashioned or steel cut oats, you’re likely to get all the benefits of the whole grain (the fiber, b-vitamins and protein). Check out this list of the different varieties of oats from the Whole Grain Council to learn more.
Oats are Naturally Gluten-Free
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Oats do not contain this protein, but can be contaminated with it if they are grown on nearby fields, shipped in the same vehicles or processed on the same equipment as wheat, barley or rye. Only single producers, farmers who plant and process only oats, can be certified as gluten-free, because the risk of contamination is otherwise very high.
Oats Support Heart and Digestive Health
Beta glucan is a unique type of dietary fiber that has some powerful health benefits. It is only found in oats and barley, and to a smaller extent in wheat and rye. Oats are the only gluten-free grain source of this type of fiber. Beta glucan is also naturally found on some bacteria, fungi and yeasts (think: kombucha, mushrooms, and sourdough bread) that might make their way into our diets, but the beta glucan fiber in grains is the only type that is soluble, meaning it interacts with water and slows things down instead of scooting through our digestive tract undigested.
Soluble beta glucan fiber seems to reliably lower cholesterol when it is a part of a diet otherwise low in saturated fat. Beta glucan fibers absorb water in the digestive tract and stick onto bile acids, which are normally re-circulated in our blood stream. Beta glucan helps our bodies better regulate cholesterol levels in our blood, keeping the path through our blood vessels nice and smooth!
There are Many Other Related Health Benefits of Oats
Oats are one of the most satiating foods due to how they expand in the stomach. This expansion accelerates hormone production that signals “fullness” to the brain. Not only do we fill up faster, but we also stay full for a longer time because the soluble fiber in oats helps them move more slowly through our digestive tract and limits the rate that glucose enters the bloodstream (no sugar high or crashes here!). Because of this “slow drip” of glucose into the blood, oats can help prevent insulin resistance and reduce the risk for developing type II diabetes.
More than Just a Food
Some of the same compounds in oats that make them healthful to eat make them wonderful for our skin as well. You may be familiar with oatmeal masks or oatmeal baths. Oats have been used as a topical treatment for wounds and sore skin for hundreds of years; the popular bath product brand Aveeno - which uses oats as its main ingredient - is also named after them (avena is the scientific name for oats).
The antioxidants in oats have anti-itching properties that make them good to use during dry winter months when skin is easily irritated and inflamed. The beta glucan in oats also seems to help promote wound healing when applied to the skin.
Which 88 Acres Products have Oats in them?
Oats are found in all 88 Acres Seed Bars and Seed'nola. We use certified gluten-free oats from a single-source supplier whom we trust. At home, we like to use ground oats as a naturally sweet gluten-free flour, and rolled oats to add texture to everything from pancakes to cookies.