The Power of Oats

Rolled oats (oat flakes), milk and golden wheat ears on wooden background. Raw food ingredients, healthy lifestyle, cooking food

The Power of Oats

Rolled oats (oat flakes), milk and golden wheat ears on wooden background. Raw food ingredients, healthy lifestyle, cooking food
By Melissa O’Shea, MS, RD, Contributing Blogger

Oatmeal has always been one of my favorite breakfast dishes. Not only is it delicious, but more and more research is pointing to many health benefits of oats. Several studies have noted benefits for digestive health, diabetes management, and cardiovascular health.

Digestive Health

Thanks to the soluble fiber found in oats, they are extremely good for your gut. The British Journal of Nutrition recently published a review of studies looking at oats and their effect on digestive health. A number of studies reported a decrease in irritable bowel disease symptoms after adding oat bran to the daily diet. One study found an “improvement in patients’ conditions, with a reduction in relapse and decrease in abdominal pain and reflux.” Another study found that oats or oat bran significantly decreased constipation, suggesting oats could be an important dietary component for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.


Keeping blood sugar levels stable throughout the day is one of the best ways to prevent and manage diabetes. Soluble fiber slows the emptying of the stomach, which prevents peaks and valleys in blood sugar. Oats are a great source of soluble fiber and studies have shown that adding oats and oat bran to your diet can help manage blood sugar levels, making it a healthful addition to the diet for people with diabetes. 

Cardiovascular Health

The review also looked at oats and their effects on cardiovascular risk. The researchers found that “a 1% reduction in total cholesterol or LDL-cholesterol is associated with a 2-3% decreased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD)”, which would equate to a substantial health benefit at a population level.” While the review didn’t find a large change in HDL (good) cholesterol levels or triglycerides, including oats in your diet is a great way to decrease your overall heart disease risk.

5 Creative Ways To Enjoy Oats

A bowl of oatmeal isn’t the only way you can enjoy oats. Try some of these ideas to increase your oat intake.

  • Overnight oats – Mix oats with low-fat plain yogurt and fruit and store overnight in a sealed container and enjoy chilled in the morning.
  • Smoothie– Add some oats to your favorite smoothie recipe for a thicker consistency and added fiber.
  • Yogurt topping – Swap granola or cereal for rolled oats as a yogurt topping, along with some fruit and nuts.
  • Breadcrumb substitute – Process oats in a food processor and use in place of breadcrumbs in meatballs and meatloaf.
  • Flour substitute – Ground rolled oats into a flour to make pancakes or cookies; it’s a great gluten-free alternative to whole-wheat flour. (Just make sure your oats are certified gluten-free).

Enjoy oats at home with these two dietitian-approved recipes.

Breakfast Oatmeal Bowl with Grapefruit, Pistachios & Sweet Tahini Drizzle by Stephanie McKercher, MS, RDN of The Grateful Grazer 

oatmeal with grapefruit and pistachios

Slow Cooker Granola by Christy Brisette, MS, RD of 80 Twenty Nutrition

slow cooker granola




  1. British Journal of Nutrition (2014) 112, S19-S30. Oats and CVD risk markers: a systemic literature review
  2. British Journal of Nutrition (2014) 112, S31-S43. Oats and bowel disease: a systemic literature review


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