Colder weather may have you craving a hearty bowl of oatmeal to start your day. But did you know that eating this hearty food may significantly improve the nutritional profile of your diet and reduce the risk of some chronic conditions? Because of its many benefits, oatmeal and oats are a healthful addition to anyone’s eating plan.
You’ve probably heard how oats can lower harmful cholesterol levels and help tamp down your appetite, but you may not know how much or how often you need to eat oatmeal to reap the benefits. Here’s what you need to know about how much oatmeal to eat, as well as the healthiest ways to incorporate oats into your diet.
Read on, and for more healthy eating tips, check out What Eating Too Much Sugar Does to Your Body.
How much oatmeal should you eat?
A one-cup serving has four grams of fiber, as well as helpful doses of thiamin, phosphorus, and magnesium. Oats are naturally free of sodium and are low in total fat and saturated fat, and they also contain bioactive compounds, several of which are potent antioxidants.
A serving of plain oats is about 160 calories, with around 3.5 grams of total fat, less than a gram of saturated fat, and 6 grams of protein.
A serving also provides about 28 grams of carbohydrates, of which there is only 1 gram of natural sugar. However, if you enjoy sweetened instant oatmeal, it often contains added sugars.
The benefits of eating oatmeal daily
Enjoying a serving of unsweetened oats daily, in place of a sugar-sweetened cold cereal, bagel, or donut, is a great way to help boost the fiber in your diet, add a whole grain serving to your morning, and start your day with an energy-rich breakfast that will help keep you satisfied longer.
According to USDA data, a cup of cooked oatmeal provides:
Which type of oats are best?
The FDA has acknowledged the heart health benefits of oatmeal for decades, stating that soluble fiber from oatmeal as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and that 3 grams daily are needed for this benefit.
A 2019 review published in Frontiers in Nutrition also states that beta-glucan (a type of soluble fiber found in oats and barley) from oats can help reduce total cholesterol and therefore has been linked to reduced cardiovascular disease risk.
A serving (1 cup of cooked oats or 1/2 cup of raw oats) provides about two grams of soluble fiber, which is around half of the total amount of fiber in a serving of oats.
So, you’d need to eat about 1.5 cups of cooked oats or 3/4 cups of raw oats to get the three grams of soluble fiber for heart-health benefits.