Ode to the Versatile Oats

Breakfast is the most important meal to kick-start the day after a night fast. Hence, the ancient proverb ‘Breakfast like a king….’ as the meal is essential to sustain energy throughout the day. There are various healthy breakfast options, with oats being a universal favorite. In this article, let us peek into a few of the benefits of oatmeal.


History /Origin

Oatmeal has a long history with Oats being the last of the major cereal grains domesticated for human consumption and cultivated probably between 1000 BC and 0 AD in Southeastern Europe or Asia Minor. The origin of oats is probably the Asian wild red oat. Greeks and Romans considered oats to be diseased wheat and many cultures believed them to be better suited to animals. Despite these issues, oats became a staple in Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and the Scandinavian countries

[Also Read: Different Types of Oats]


Nutrients and Benefits of Oats

Healthy wholegrain Oats provide carbohydrate, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and other important nutrients essential for optimal health.


Nutrient What is it? Benefits for Health Nutritional composition per 100g of oats
Thiamin B-vitamin
  • Helps release energy from carbohydrate
  • Vital for a healthy nervous system
Riboflavin B-vitamin
  • Helps release energy from food
  • Keeps skin, eyes and the nervous system healthy
Niacin B-vitamin
  • Helps release energy from food
  • Vital for a healthy nervous system
Carbohydrate The most important source of energy in the diet
  • Our bodies digest and metabolise all carbohydrates into glucose, which provides energy for the body
Protein Performs vital structural functions in the body
  • Needed for growth and development
  • Constantly involved in rebuilding, repairing and maintaining vital tissues
Fat  An essential part of the diet
  • An important source of energy, although intakes should be controlled
  • Necessary for the storage and transport of fat soluble vitamins
Sodium A mineral
  • Involved in the regulation of fluid and electrolyte balance
 7mg High sodium is associated with raised blood pressure, it is recommended that we have no more than 2.4g sodium per day
Fibre ‘Nature’s broom’
  • Helps maintain a healthy digestive system
 7.1g (of which beta-glucan is 4g)
Calcium A mineral
  • Helps build strong bones and teeth
Vitamin B6 B-vitamin
  • Needed for protein metabolism
  • Helps the central nervous system to function
  • Needed for the production of haemoglobin, the red pigment in blood, which carries oxygen around the body
Folic Acid (folates) B-vitamin
  • Essential for growth and the formation of red and white blood cell formation in bone marrow
  • Protects against neural tube defects (spina bifida) pre-conceptually and during early pregnancy
Vitamin E A powerful antioxidant
  • An antioxidant is a substance that may help prevent damage to the body’s cells
 0.70 mgs
Potassium A mineral
  • Involved in the regulation of fluid and electrolyte balance
  • Essential for the transmission of nerve impulses
Iron A mineral
  • Helps make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body
Magnesium A mineral
  • Needed for healthy bones
  • Helps release energy from food
  • Helps nerve and muscle function
Phosphorus A mineral
  • Helps build strong bones
  • Helps the body to store and release energy from food
Zinc A mineral
  • Essential for growth, reproduction and immunity
Selenium A mineral and powerful antioxidant
  • An antioxidant is a substance that may help prevent damage to the body’s cells
Trace elements The minerals copper, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and iodine are referred to as trace elements.
  • Essential for good health but only required in trivial amounts


Health Benefits of Oatmeal

Cholesterol/ Heart Health

Whole Oatmeal, a significant source of dietary fibre, contains a mixture of about half-and half-soluble and insoluble fibres. One component of the soluble fibre found in oats is beta-glucans, which is effective in lowering blood cholesterol. Soluble fibre breaks down, in the digestive tract blocking cholesterol-rich bile acids. The bad cholesterol, LDL, is thus restricted without lowering good cholesterol (HDL). Oats are also one of the best sources of antioxidant compounds called tocotrienols which inhibit cholesterol production and lower blood cholesterol averting cardiovascular disease.


Blood Sugar

The beta glucan found in oats delay digestion, thus prolonging the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream preventing drastic changes in blood sugar levels.



Oats contain Phytoestrogen compounds, called lignans correlated to decreased risk of hormone-related diseases such as breast, prostate, endometrial and ovarian cancers. The insoluble fibres’ in oats help reduce carcinogens in the gastrointestinal tract.



Oats contain fibre, which is important for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Fibre helps speed the passage of waste material through the digestive system, giving potentially harmful substances less time to linger in the bowel and ensuring regular bowel movements


Weight management

Oats contribute to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, as they are typically low in fat, contain fibre and have a low glycaemic index (GI)


Longevity/ General Health

Containing a good balance of essential fatty acids, Oats linked with longevity and general good health are rich in amino acids that facilitate optimum functioning of the body. Oats are a good source of essential vitamins such as thiamin, folic acid, biotin, pantothenic acid and vitamin E. They also contain zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium. Oat beta glucan also appears to help speed up response to infection, which may result in faster healing.


Common Uses of Oats

Although primarily used as a breakfast constituent, Oats have a wide variety of other uses as well.


Livestock Feed

Part of the human diet for centuries, the primary use of oats has been a highly nutritious feed for all classes of livestock. High in mineral and vitamin contents, Oats in the past were a regular feed to horses, amounting to 20%. However, nowadays oats have become a feed for cattle, dairy and poultry too. Oat hulls composed of lemma and palea, are used in poultry macerate. Oat straw is nutritious and palatable hence makes wonderful mulch for horses, sheep and rabbits. They make excellent soft, relatively dust-free bedding due to their absorbent nature. Oats are one of the main ingredients used in some brands of dog food and chicken feed. Since cats readily harvest and eat tender young oat, wheat, and other grass sprouts, Oat seeds, are marketed as cat grass.


Food Uses of Oats

Besides the common use of oats as an ingredient in breakfast cereals such as muesli and granola Oats rolled/ crushed oatmeal, or fine oat flour have numerous uses in food. Oatmeal often eaten as porridge, are generally included in a variety of baked goods, cakes, cookies, and bread. Oat ice cream and milk are available and oat’s natural preservative and antioxidant qualities have been put to use in milk, milk powder, butter, ice cream, fish oil, olive oil, bacon, lard, frozen fish and frozen sausage.


Used in several drinks Oats in Britain are included in brewing beer and make good coffee substitute. Some beers, such as oatmeal stout, utilize oats in their making.


In ice cream, sauces and salad dressings Oat gum has been an alternative to gelatine as a thickening and stabilizing agent


Chemical Use of Oats

Oat hulls are a raw material for making furfural -meaning bran in latin- and many related compounds such as furfuryl alcohol, tetrahydro furfuryl alcohol, furan, tetrahydrofuran and polytetramethylene etherglycol. Industrial uses of furfural and these compounds are used in the refining of lubricant oils and rosins, the manufacture of shoe dyes, herbicides, fungicides soil fumigants and the production of nylon.


Other Amazing Uses


Oatmeal help absorb odours. Therefore, place an open container of oats in the refrigerator to absorb the odour and bacteria. Line an ashtray with dried oats to reduce the strong smell of cigarettes.


Dry Irritated Skin

Oats provide soothing relief from sunburn, poison ivy or other irritations, and helps heal skin and open pores. Hence, many moisturizers and beauty products contain oatmeal for their benefits.



Grind 1 cup of plain oatmeal and mix well with 1-cup baking soda. Sprinkle the mixture sparingly on the hair roots. Give it a few minutes to absorb the excess oil, then brush out removing any traces.


Modelling Clay

Recycle old oatmeal into nontoxic crafting clay by combining one cup of instant or rolled oats with flour and a little water. Add food colours for a plethora of ideas. The clay remain moist for hours, but hardens overnight, making it good for sculpting figurines, bowls, beads and other goodies.


Dog’s Skin

For dogs, suffering from fleas and itchy skin an oatmeal bath by rubbing the mixture over the problem areas will provide relief.