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What are the Benefits of Oats
Where Did Oats Come From
Wild cultivated oats were first grown in the Fertile Crescent (which includes modern day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan) for food as early as perhaps 500 B.C. Modern day oats were cultivated in the Bronze Age. At that time oats, like rye, were grown as a secondary crop to wheat. Oat, even then, were largely considered animal feed.
As a crop the oat is much more tolerant of summer heat and rain. This makes them a better growing grain than wheat, rye, or barley. In most of Europe at this time oats were still considered cattle feed, but in Scotland oat was and is held in high regard.
In the tome A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson wrote;
"(the) oat was a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people"
The Scottish reply to this trusim is;
"and England has the finest horses, and Scotland the finest men"
Modern Oat as Food
Today oats are a popular food being rolled, crushed (into oatmeal), or ground (into oat flour). In these forms it can appear as a porridge or a baking ingredient in breads. Oats can also be consumed raw and some oat cookies are now available with raw oats.
Oats can also be an ingredient in drinks with a popular alcoholic drink in the U.K. called Oatmeal Stout as well as a cold drink made in Latin American countries with oat flour and milk. Oliver Cromwell was known to favor a drink made of ale and oatmeal called caudle.
Oats are still popular as animal feed with a great deal of it going as horse food. The straw (stalks of the harvested plant) is a popular bedding for animals as it is soft, relatively dust free, and absorbs moisture well.
Oat is also considered a health food a claim which was given a boost when the Food and Drug Administration approved as "heart healthy" if a food product contains at least 0.75 grams of soluble fiber per serving. Since oats are high in soluble fiber this was an easy standard for it to meet.
Oat is also high in protein and the only grain containing a globulin. Oat has almost as high a protein profile as soy making it as good a source of protein as milk, meat, and egg.
If it is possible to acquire oat flour that has not been processed on equipment that also processes wheat, rye, and barley, grain can be considered gluten free. Oats from Ireland and Scotland tend to be purer (free of wheat) due to the fact that much less wheat is grown in those countries thus reducing equipment contamination.
Once harvested oat must be dried and stored in cool dark silos. Oat has such a high fat content that without proper storage preparation it can go rancid in as little as four days.
Terms Specific to Oats
Seed / Fruit
Savory Oatmeal (steel cut oats)
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Cup Steel Cut Oats
- 3 Cups boiling water
- 1/2 Cup Whole (vitamin D) milk
- 1/2 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon low-fat buttermilk
- 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
In a large saucepan, melt the butter.
Add the oats and stir for 2 minutes to toast.
Add the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer for 25 minutes, without stirring.
Combine the milk and half of the buttermilk with the oatmeal. Stir gently to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Spoon into a serving bowl and top with remaining buttermilk, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
Though the addition of milk, butter, and buttermilk make this sound rich the quantities of milk-fat are pretty low. This does not make the dish taste any less rich however.
Topical Uses of Oat
Oatmeal and extracts of oat are very soothing and quite good for the skin. The following are some home concoctions for getting the most healthy skin benefit from oat products right out of the pantry.
Oat and Sugar Scrub
2 Tablespoons oat flour (most health food stores have this)
2 teaspoon brown sugar
2 Tablespoon aloe vera (another health food store item)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a clean bowl until you have a smooth paste. Gently massage onto damp skin, and rinse off with warm water. Triple the quantities above for a whole body scrub.
Oat and Honey Milk Bath
1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup powdered milk
2 Tablespoons Honey
Place all of the above in a natural fabric bag such as cotton, muslin, or cheesecloth and hang the bag under the faucet as you fill the tub. The running water will blend the contents of the bag into the water as the tub fills. Soothing and moisturizing.
Cook some oatmeal as if for breakfast or save some from the morning meal. Once lukewarm apply to areas of the skin that are dry and patchy. Leave on for at least ten minutes and rinse with cool or warm water. Pat dry.
Cooked oatmeal can also be used to treat poison oak and poison ivy rashes.
Dog "Itchy Skin" Relief
Mix one part water with one part colloidal oatmeal. (Collodial oatmeal is a very fine oat powder) until you get a starchy paste. Rub this paste on the affect area of the dog in a circular motion. Cover the affected area (of the dog) with aluminum foil and let sit for ten minutes.
Good luck with this. I know my dog will be chasing the foil and biting at it till it's off.
After ten minutes rinse your dog in cool water and towel dry.
You can skip the foil as long as you;
- Rub the mixture in for ten minutes
- Get the dog to sit still for another ten minutes as the stuff soaks into the skin
Again rinse and towel dry.
Place a small open container of raw oats in the refrigerator for odor control. Raw oat absorbs and retains offensive smells in the "fridge."