Which Type of Oats Should I Eat?

Which Type of Oats Should I Eat?

We love oats. Not only a great ingredient in the kitchen, oats are also a super healthy choice. They're high in vitamins and minerals, provide some protein, and contain soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is linked to lowering bad LDL cholesterol. Oats are low on the glycemic index, so they take longer to digest and have a lower impact on blood sugar levels. They're considered a good carb. Oats are a solid meal option if you're trying to keep your weight down because they can help you feeling full for a longer period while still getting the good nutrients you need.

With oats, you have a few options. There are rolled, steel-cut, stone-ground, quick-cook, and instant. So, which one should you choose? To us, it really depends on three factors - health, time, and taste.

For the healthiest type of oats, many suggest steel-cut or stone-ground oats. These types of oats are the least processed of the different types so they should retain most of their natural nutrients, especially soluble fiber. Stone-ground actually does have slightly more loss in nutrients compared to steel-cut but is still considered a minimally processed oat. And to note, steel-cut and stone-ground refer to how the oats were processed. Steel-cut oats are cut into small pieces by steel and stone-ground means the oats where ground by, you guessed it, stone. Steel-cut is sometimes called Irish oats and stone-ground is also known as Scottish oats.

Time is a huge factor in our lives. We can always use more of it! Steel-cut and stone-ground oats take about 30 minutes to cook so it's going to be a while. Instant is well, instant. Just add hot water and wait a minute or two. Instant oats are basically steamed until fully cooked, flattened super thin by rollers, and then dehydrated for packaging. You're really just rehydrating them before eating. The major downside to instant is that they're highly processed and often include added sugars and sometimes artificial ingredients.

Quick oats are an excellent choice if you're short on time and don't want those added sugars or artificial ingredients. They take about 5 minutes. Rolled oats, also called old-fashioned oats, are right in the middle in terms of time to cook. They the thin, flaky oats that many think of when describing traditional oatmeal. Rolled oats take anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes depending on how you like 'em. It's good to note that more nutrients are retained when less processing is involved. The tradeoff is that it takes longer to cook less processed oats.

The third factor to consider is taste. We should enjoy the foods we eat! Well, there's not a huge difference in taste as there is in texture, to be honest. Rolled oats and steel-cut are described as having a chewier texture. Some say stone-ground is creamier. How much water you add and how long you cook your oats can make a difference too. It really comes down to everyone's own choice. We like them all and go through a rotation. Sometimes it's steel-cut on the weekend or rolled-oats on a weekday. We don't often eat quick-oats and haven't had instant in ages, but we love oats and time is important so we wouldn't say no if we truly wanted a bowl. Still probably a healthier choice than many others.

Oatmeal isn't the only way to enjoy oats either. There's granola, baked goods, and even as an ingredient for crusts or stuffings. But if you do love 'em as oatmeal, add some crunched up almonds or walnut pieces to boost the flavors and nutrients. That's what we do! =)

Want to learn more? Here are a few links to check out.
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