Oatmeal Health Benefits
Why is Oatmeal considered as a wonder-meal?
For a long time, I continued to believe that oatmeal is a food with high carbohydrate content, and people (like me), who have a tendency to put on weight even while feeding on water, must avoid oats at all costs. Needless to stay, I kept myself distant to this wonder food for quite a long time,thanks to my ignorance! It was quite late in 2008 winters, when I decided to go for an oatmeal diet after reading here and there about the good things oats have, on theoretical purposes, and also, partly because I was bored of my daily cereal breakfast. Soon, I realized, how very wrong I was about my beliefs about oats and how much wondrous oats can be, when included in your regular diet!.
Not only did it keep me full from breakfast to lunch(thereby avoiding me to have any more munchies in between), but also allowed me to experiment a lot with the breakfast recipes, I could make with the oats,thereby adding colorful and delicious varieties and flavors to my breakfast every day. I decided to explore more about the wonders of oats and after my research and findings, I came to know that oats and oatmeal products are considered to be natural wonder food because of the high water-soluble fiber content they come up with. Apart from this,oats have been highly recommended by many doctors and dietitians for their nutritional and dietary benefits.
What is Oatmeal?
Oatmeal or "Avena sativa" basically comes from the oat grains, which is a cereal grass. Humans mostly consume the oatmeal in cooked cereal form after processing them to certain levels, whereas raw oats are being used as animal fodder.
Human edible oats and oatmeal come in various forms and hence it becomes essential to identify the oatmeal of your needs before you choose any of its products for your recipes.
Varieties of Oats and Oatmeal
1) Oat bran: Oat bran is basically the outer coating of the oat grain, which has higher fiber content. You can find it easily in the general health food stores.
2) Oat groats: These are the processed oat grains in which the oats go through a process of cleansing, toasting, hulling and re-cleaning. Oat groats take longer time to cook and are quite chewy. This cooking time can be reduced by rolling or pounding the oat groats.
3) Oat flour: Oat flour is derived by grinding the oat groats. It basically contains natural antioxidants, which can essentially extend the storage time of baked goods. Again, you can find it in health food stores.
4) Rolled Oats: Rolled oats are another form of processed oat groats in which the oat groats are steamed, followed by being pressed with a roller, and then dried. Rolled oats are also famous by the name of "Old-fashioned oats". Their cooking time is approximately 15 minutes.
5) Quick-cooking oats: Quick cooking oats are the processed rolled oats. Rolled oats are cut into smaller pieces and rolled thinner to make the quick cooking oats, which take quite lesser cooking time (3 to 5 minutes).
6) Instant oatmeal: This type of oatmeal is usually pre-cooked, dried and stored. You can find various flavor additives with this oatmeal.
7) Scotch oats or Steel-cut oats: These are the unrolled oats, which are being cut into 2 or 3 pieces. They are quite chewy and take extended cooking time than normal oatmeal cooking duration. These are usually taken as a savory side dish.
How to Store Oats?
Oats usually come up with natural antioxidants, and hence don't get decayed easily. This adds to the longer life of oat flour and other related products. All the necessary precautions and conditions that apply to the storage of normal grains, apply to the oatmeal storage as well. You must store oatmeal in airtight containers to prevent the entry of moisture and vermin.The place of storage should be cool and dark, which can extend the life of your oatmeal to 3 months. If you wish to extend the storage duration to 6 months,you can consider refrigerating it. Always consider refrigerating oat bran,because of the high oil content it comes with.
Oatmeal can help in Lowering your Cholesterol Level
Oatmeal is considered to be the most effective food ingredient to lower the bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) levels. According to a research done on the adults, LDL cholesterol has even got lowered by 10percent in many cases, by just the consumption of around 40 and 60 grams (one bowl) of oatmeal every day. This ability of oatmeal to lower the cholesterol level, directly depends on the amount of intake you have per day. It is also believed that the oat fibers in oatmeal, usually get mixed with the cholesterol in the small intestine, thereby further binding to the cholesterol molecules and carrying them out of the body, rather than getting absorbed into the blood.
Despite the benefits of oatmeal in reducing the cholesterol,the ingredients with which it can be cooked, may reduce its power of doing so.Such ingredients include products like chocolate, whole milk, butter andcheese. My tip is to always keep a check on the ingredients of instant oatmeal,along with the fat content of additional and complimentary ingredients, toachieve the complete, cholesterol-lowering result of oatmeal.
How to Make Oat Flour from Old Fashioned Oats?
Oatmeal Equivalents and Measures (As taken from wikianswers.com)
- Oat flour may be substituted for up to 1/3 of the required whole wheat flour in baked goods.
- 1 pound old-fashioned rolled oats = 5 to 5-3/4 cups
- 1 cup rolled oats = 1-3/4 cups cooked
- 1 cup raw rolled oats = 3 ounces
Tips for Cooking Oatmeal
- You can always use oatmeal flour as a thickener in soups and stews, thereby increasing the nutritional content of the food.
- You can easily make your very own homemade oat flour, by placing the rolled oats in your food processor and processing it to the consistency of flour. Remove the larger particles.
- You can generally experiment and interchange the "Old-Fashioned oatmeal" (rolled oats)to the quick cooking oatmeal in most of the recipes. They taste almost same.
- You may not be able to interchange the instant oatmeal with the rolled oats or quick cooking oatmeal for baking purposes, since the instant oatmeal is already cooked and dried up and your baked products may become more sticky and brittle.(I can say that affirmatively since I made a horrible mess once with this mistake.)
- You can use oatmeal as an extender in cooking breads, granola, muffins, cookies, muesli, stuffing,and pilafs.
- As the gluten content of oat flour is relatively low, you need to combine it with all purpose flour while making breads; otherwise your breads may not rise properly.
- You can spice up your cooked oatmeal with spices like cinnamon, ginger and mace.
I hope you enjoyed reading this information what I could give about oats and oatmeal. What could be more rewarding than getting healthy while having fun! So, include this wonder meal into your diet, experiment with its recipes and enjoy!