Oats for a Healthy Heart and More
Avena sativa, otherwise known as oats, are a healthy whole grain that we are all familiar with. Many of us grew up with our mothers making oatmeal for us for breakfast ( I liked mine with butter and honey).
Now Mom knew that oatmeal was healthy, but she was more right than she knew.
Oats come from the field and are roasted, hulled, and then processed into the various forms that we are familiar with. Rolled oats, quick cooking, steel cut, groats, oat flour, and oat bran.
As most people already know, oats are high in fiber-mainly the soluble fiber, beta glucan. Most everyone has seen the commercials touting oatmeal's cholesterol lowering benefits. It is not just hype. Study after study...since the 1960's have supported this. Eating 3 grams of oat fiber (about what you would get in a one bowl serving) can lower serum cholesterol levels from 8 to 23 percent. This is GREAT news (and so easy) because for every 1% drop in serum cholesterol there is a 2% drop in the risk of developing Coronary Artery Disease!!
But wait....There's MORE!!
The fiber-beta glucan, has been found to enhance the immune system response to bacterial infections. Beta glucan aids neutrophils in finding infection faster, essentially turbo charging the targeting system---making it rapid response. It goes one step beyond that by enhancing the neutrophils ability to destroy the invading microbes. Neutrophils are cells that are like sacs of enzymes that engulf invaders and-digest them.
Beta glucan is also helpful in diabetes. Diabetics given oat rich foods had far less dramatic blood sugar spikes. This is beneficial to diabetics because the more constant you can keep the blood sugar levels the healthier it is all the way around, and the less insulin is required.
Oats are also rich in magnesium. Magnesium functions a co-factor in greater than three hundred enzymes including those used in insulin secretion and in glucose use.
Whole grains, in general, contain a phytochemical called lignan. Lignan is converted to mammalian lignans in the intestines. One of these is enterolactone, which is believed to believed to protect against hormone dependant cancers (ie:breast cancer) along with protection against heart disease.
This is just touching on all the good things that oats and oatmeal can do. Adding a bit of oat flour in place of regular flour in some of your bread or muffin recipes is a tasty way to get more oats into your diet.
Our family loves oatmeal cookies, apple crisp (with oatmeal in the topping), oatmeal muffins, and oatmeal bread. It is very easy to get oatmeal into the diet even if you are not a fan of the traditional morning oatmeal.
Here is our recipe for Apple Crisp that is easy and very nutritious.
1 ½ cups brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup flour
1 cup Oatmeal
8 apples Sliced (peel them if you like)
Put apples in a greased 9 x 13 pan.
Pat mixture over the top of the apples.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
This is my favorite for the oatmeal bread recipe. It's nice and soft, and not obviously "oatmeal-y"
Oatmeal Bread for the Bread Machine 2 lb loaf
1 cup Water
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
2 teaspoons Liquid Lecithin
1 ½ teaspoon Dehydrated Potato Flakes or Powder
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Dry Milk
¼ cup Honey
1 teaspoon Salt
½ cup Quick Oats
3 cups Bread
1 Tablespoon Vital Wheat Gluten
1 ½ teaspoon yeast
Place all ingredients into your bread machine according to your machines manufacturers directions.
Check after 5 minutes of kneading to make sure that it does not need to have more water or flour. It should make a nice smooth ball.
This is not a bread that you can make using the delay timer due to the egg.
Crispy Oatmeal Cookies
¾ cup Shortening
1 cup Brown Sugar
½ cup White Sugar
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups Oatmeal
1 cup + Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Soda
Cream sugars and butter together well. Add egg and mix well. Mix vanilla into water, add soda and stir. Pour into the sugars and butter mixture and again, mix well. Stir together remaining dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Stir together well.
Drop by spoonfuls, bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. These are a crispy cookie, that you can customize by adding raisins or chocolate chips etc as you like.