What’s not to love about oats? This wonder grain is one of the healthiest on earth. It is gluten-free and a great source of essential vitamins, mineral, fibre and antioxidants.
“Personally, oats is my favourite food. I love it,” says Johannesburg-based quantity surveyor Katlego Wolf. “I only have like two cereals that I basically eat, which is oats and Nutrific.”
Lihle Nzimande, an auditor from Umlazi, believes that oats is not only nutritious but also convenient to prepare especially after a long day at the office. “Sometimes I get back from work and I am too tired to cook so I just pop some oats into the microwave and ‘Bob’s your uncle’.”
Ntsiuoa Makhutla, who is based in Kimberley, agrees and says that eating oats sparks memories from her childhood. “Oats fills you up and is much lower in calories. It was one of those quick breakfasts my mom would cook easily, we would have oats or soft porridge for breakfast. Most of the breakfasts on our shelves do not fill you up for long. As much as I want to eat, I also want something that keeps me satisfied for longer.”
Oats is good to love
Zamantugwa Khumalo, a spokesperson for the Association of Dietetics in South Africa and a registered dietitian, tells Health For Mzansi that oats are packed with a variety of nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, iron, and dietary fibre. This all helps reduce your risk of heart disease, gut-related cancers, and high blood pressure and can also promote better blood glucose/sugar control for those living with diabetes.
“The soluble fibre in oats is the main component that is great for weight loss,” she explains.
“Soluble fibre dissolves well in water and forms into a gel-like consistency as it is digested and passes through the gut. This helps to slow digestion of fibre containing meals therefore making you feel fuller for longer and ultimately promotes a healthy weight loss. It is however important to include plenty of water when having fibre to prevent constipation.”
Wouldn’t maize be the better option?
While pap or maize meal is likely to be a more financially friendly alternative to oats when looking at price per kg, it is important to understand the nutritional implications of consuming maize more regularly than oats, especially for those who are living with chronic lifestyle diseases like diabetes.
Oats are fortified with the same vitamins and minerals but have a lower glycaemic index. “This means it causes a slow release of sugar in the blood, therefore, helping for better diabetes and weight management and therefore better for your health.”
Don’t overdo it
Like many good things in the world, Khumalo advises that you limit your oats intake per day. Having too much oats in one day can cause bloating, abdominal discomfort, gas and constipation. Always have your six to eight glasses of water, Khumalo suggests.
“Having small portions of oats and any other high fibre food is recommended for better gut tolerance.”
What is the best way to get oats into your diet?
Khumalo shares six ways you can add this cereal grain to your diet.
- Oats may be consumed as a cooked breakfast porridge in the morning.
- It may also be consumed raw in the form of overnight oats mixed with yoghurt/milk/fruit.
- It may also be used as an alternative to flour when making baked goods like oat and banana muffins.
- It may be used to make snack bars for snack times.
- It may be used in place of breadcrumbs when baking/cooking.
- It may also be added to raw to smoothies as a more filling snack.