Oats: properties, nutritional values, benefits

Rich in fiber and naturally gluten-free, oats are a cereal that can reduce bad cholesterol levels and prevent insulin spikes. Discover the properties of oats.

The common oat, whose scientific name is Avena Sativa, is a plant belonging to the Graminaceae family that in ancient times was used for human but also for animal nutrition.

Its origin seems to date back to Asian countries. Today as a cereal, oat grains are not widely used in Italian culinary culture, but mainly its derivatives are consumed. Oats exist both in integral form, which has a very long cooking, and in the form of peeled grains, to which the external part has been removed, which can be used in soups or broths.

Oat flakes are obtained from oats , very common in Anglo-Saxon cuisine, which are produced through a thermal process to which the oat grains are subjected. The oat grains are first steamed and then crushed by special rollers and finally they are lightly toasted, in this way they take on the typical appearance of flakes. They are mainly used for breakfast.

Flour is also obtained from oats, used for cakes or biscuits, and oat milk, very digestible and suitable for those who are lactose intolerant or vegans. Let’s now explore the nutritional values ​​and properties of oats.

Oats: calories and nutritional values

Like all cereals, oats mainly provide complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber but are mainly characterized by having a good supply of vegetable proteins (about 17 g per 100 g of food). The caloric intake is on average with other cereals: 100 grams of oats provide about 390 calories. Also good is the fiber content, which helps stimulate intestinal transit, increase the sense of satiety and reduce bad cholesterol levels. This cereal, then, is characterized by its low glycemic index, making it also suitable for the diet of diabetics.

Oats are naturally gluten-free and can be consumed by celiacs. However, it is good practice to check that the wording “gluten-free” is present on the package to make sure there are no traces of other cereals containing gluten.

Furthermore, oats contain lecithin, vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, folate, linoleic acid, a fair amount of minerals, including calcium, iron, phosphorus, selenium and avenin, an alkaloid with a toning and energetic effect on the nervous system. In addition, avenine has beneficial effects on the thyroid.

Among the most important nutrients that characterize this cereal, however, we find beta- glucans, soluble vegetable fibers capable of reducing total cholesterol levels by 5% and those of bad cholesterol by 7%, as shown by various studies.

Nutritional values ​​per 100g of oats:

  • Waterfall: 8.2 gr
  • kcal: 389
  • Proteins: 16.9 g
  • Fat: 6.9 g
  • Fibers: 10.6 g
  • Soccer: 54 mg
  • Magnesium: 177 mg
  • Phosphorus: 523 mg
  • Potassium: 429 mg
  • Iron: 4.72 mg
  • Vitamin B1: 0.763 mg (54.5% RDA)
  • Vitamin B2: 0.139 mg (8.7% RDA)
  • Vitamin B3: 0.961 mg (5.3% RDA)
  • Vitamin B5: 1,349 mg (22.5% RDA)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.119 mg (6% RDA)
  • Folate: 56 µg (28% RDA)
  • Glycemic index: 40
  • Cholesterol: 0 g

Oats: health benefits

The nutritional composition and the nutrients present give oats very interesting properties for health. In short, it reduces cholesterol values ​​due to the presence of beta-glucans, stabilizes blood sugar levels thanks to its high fiber content and helps intestinal well-being, but not only. Let’s dive into all the benefits of oats now.

✓ It is energizing

Thanks to the abundance of carbohydrates, but above all of B vitamins that favor the energetic use of nutrients, the consumption of oats is indicated in case of convalescence and debilitation. Also recommended in times of stress or excessive work.

✓ Oats against cholesterol

Regular consumption of oats can prevent heart disease and stroke as it reduces the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. This property is due to the presence of beta- glucan, a soluble fiber that works like a sponge. When deposited in the intestine, this fiber “absorbs” the cholesterol taken from food and carries it with it, preventing it from staying in the body. Oats contain about 5% beta-glucans.

✓ Prevents constipation

Oats improve intestinal well-being thanks to a good content of dietary fiber which favors the development of good bacteria present in the bacterial flora. It also stimulates intestinal transit and fights constipation, favoring the elimination of harmful substances for the body: in this sense it therefore performs a valuable preventive action.

✓ Very digestible

Oats are a highly digestible cereal and are often recommended for people who have digestive difficulties, for example the elderly or convalescents, and for those with colitis and gastritis. It also prevents diseases of the digestive system and is also among the foods recommended in case of irritable colon.

✓ Oats in the diabetic patient

Oats can be consumed by people suffering from diabetes both because it has a low glycemic index and because it seems that beta-glucans help reduce blood sugar levels, as well as its low content of simple sugars. Moreover, thanks to its composition, oats have a high satiating power and are very useful for maintaining body weight in the norm or helping to lose weight.

✓ Increases the immune system

Oats have the property of stimulating the immune system. This characteristic is given once again by beta-glucans, capable of stimulating the immune system as they increase the number of cells responsible for the defense of our body against infections and external aggressions, in particular T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes.

✓ Strengthens the bones

This property of oats is due to the abundance of phosphorus present in the grains, which is part of bones and teeth, so consuming oats could prevent the phenomena of bone weakening that occur with advancing age.

✓ Protects the respiratory system

Oats have expectorant and mucolytic properties. In particular, some studies show that oat flakes, consumed from the first months of life, reduce the risk of developing asthma and allergic rhinitis.

✓ Benefits the thyroid

This property is due to avenin, a substance belonging to the alkaloid family that stimulates the thyroid hormones, favoring the functions of this gland.

✓ Promotes weight loss

Oats promote weight loss thanks to its satiating effect due to the fact that it tends to “volumize” the stomach, and the distension of the gastric walls is one of the most important signals to communicate the sense of satiety to the brain.

Whole oats or peeled? The differences and which one to choose

Whole oats have all the parts of the grain, even the most external ones which are the richest in fiber, while hulled oats undergo a refining process that involves the elimination of the bran and therefore has a lower amount of dietary fiber.

Whole oats and hulled oats do not have significant differences in terms of calories but it is preferable to choose whole oats because, preserving all parts of the grain, it has a higher content of vitamins, mineral salts, but above all it is richer in dietary fiber. and it is the latter that is most responsible for the beneficial effects of the grain. There is also pearl oats, which undergo a further refining process in which other parts of the grain are eliminated and, consequently, the content of beneficial substances further decreases.

Despite a very stringent legislation that sets the maximum permissible limits of contaminants, when buying whole oats it is preferable to choose a product from organic farming since whole grains have a higher probability of contamination by substances such as pesticides and pesticides that they can be found in the outermost portions of the grain.

How many oats to eat per day?

Oats is a cereal and as such is a valid alternative to pasta, rice, barley, spelled, etc. It can be inserted at main meals (lunch and / or dinner) using the grain cereal, in this case the recommended portion is 80 gr (weight referred to raw food) and provides about 311 kcal. It is also possible to use flaked oats, especially for breakfast, the recommended portion is 30 g (weight refers to raw food) and provides 110 kcal.

According to the guidelines for a healthy and proper diet we should take about 3 servings a day of cereals and derivatives to be divided between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Therefore it is possible to insert during the week oats in grains or flakes as an alternative to pasta and other cereals as well as a substitute for breakfast cereals.

Oats for breakfast: why it’s good and how much to eat

The most convenient way to add oats for breakfast is to use flakes, which can be used to make a classic porridge or homemade granola. As we have seen above, the recommended serving of oat flakes, even for breakfast, is 30 g (about 6 tablespoons).

Adding oats for breakfast can be a valid alternative to the most common cereals and will allow us to benefit from all the beneficial properties of this food which, as we have seen above, is good for the heart, is very digestible, energizing, promotes the sense of satiety and counteracts constipation. In addition, oats are a low glycemic index food and can also be eaten for breakfast by diabetics.

Oats: how to use and consume it

After having seen how much oats to eat and which type to prefer, let’s now see some ideas for using them in the kitchen. With oat grains we can prepare hot dishes such as soups or replace it with rice in risottos. But with oats in grains, cold dishes can also be prepared, by cooking the oats and, once cold, add cherry tomatoes and grilled vegetables.

For cakes and desserts we can use oatmeal and milk, which can also be consumed in the morning for breakfast or as a refreshing drink. Oat flakes can be used to prepare muesli with dried fruit, or biscuits or, again, porridge, a typical Anglo-Saxon breakfast in which the flakes are cooked in milk.

Oats: contraindications and potential negative effects

The consumption of oats is naturally contraindicated in allergy sufferers and celiacs should also pay attention. In this last case, not because oats contain gluten (as we have seen, in fact, oats are naturally gluten-free) but because they are often grown alongside gluten-containing cereals and therefore there could be contamination.

Eating too much oats, especially if whole, could cause annoying intestinal swelling, due to the bran. To avoid or at least try to reduce the problem it is advisable to stick to the right quantities and chew it well. If the bloating problem does not tend to go away, it could be linked to wrong food combinations.

Contains fair amounts of nickel, to be taken into consideration by those who suffer from nickel allergy.

Finally, oats contain purines, which, if accumulated in large quantities, can lead to the formation of kidney stones and gout. Hence, people suffering from these conditions should limit the consumption of oats.


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