Oats May Be the Most Underrated Ingredient in Your Pantry—Here’s Why
Go ahead, call it porridge. See if we care.
We love a much-hyped, mega-exotic superfood trend just as much as the rest, but at the end of the day, most of the healthiest foods to eat are pretty simple. Isn’t that kind of the point? They’re whole, unprocessed, unrefined, and probably a plant. And while we wouldn’t dare deem these basic ingredients—walnuts, sweet potatoes, strawberries, spinach, and so on—boring, we can certainly say they’re under-recognized.
One of the healthiest, most underrated *actual* superfoods out there? Oats. Ask any RD or MD and they’ll tell you that you should be absolutely be eating more of them. They’re incredibly versatile, affordable, and nutritious. Oats are also shelf-stable, which for many of us is very top of mind right now. You can serve oatmeal sweet or savory; hot or cold (pardon, “overnight”). Stir in cinnamon, nut butter, berries, or put an egg on it. Bake oats into bars or make homemade granola. However you eat them, here are all the healthy benefits you’ll be reaping when you eat oats, according to Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD of Street Smart Nutrition.
Oats are a super source of fiber and can help support a healthy digestive system. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, and they’re one of the most convenient ways to up your fiber intake (a shortfall nutrient most Americans don’t consume enough of).
Three grams of soluble fiber from oats, when part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, can reduce blood cholesterol which may help reduce the risk for heart disease. A serving of good ol' Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats provides about 2 grams, so add another small serving—like a granola bar or yogurt topping—to do your cardiovascular system a serious favor.
Oats are considered a whole grain—another food group most Americans don’t eat enough of—and can be incorporated into hot, cold, sweet, or savory dishes for any time of day. They pair well with other nourishing foods, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and plant- and animal-based protein sources, enhancing your overall diet quality. Oats are also super hearty and filling, so you won’t be tempted to stop by the vending machine for candy 20 minutes after you eat them. Finally, thanks to their mild flavor and ease of cooking, all varieties of oats provide a culinary blank canvas for creating nourishing and delicious meals and snacks.