After the excitement of Christmas and the New Year, January can feel like a letdown. Luckily, there’s another festive holiday we can celebrate all month long. That’s right, it’s National Oatmeal Month!
OK, maybe oatmeal isn’t the most exciting thing in your pantry, but this often-overlooked superfood has a lot more going for it than you might realize. Here are five surprising facts to support the reason for this slightly strange season.
Oatmeal is rich in antioxidants. When people think about foods full of antioxidants, they may conjure up images of exotic fruits with strange names. Acai. Goji. Durian. But humble oatmeal also contains a range of antioxidant molecules, including avenanthramides, which help keep blood pressure low.
Oats have the most protein of any common grain. We tend to associate grains with carbohydrates, but some have meaningful amounts of protein as well. Oats pack more protein than any other common grain, including wheat, barley and rye. If you really want to start your day with a protein punch, make your oatmeal with milk instead of water and sprinkle your favorite seeds or nuts on top.
Oatmeal is nutrient dense. There are 303 calories in a half a cup of pre-cooked oats, plus eight grams of fiber and astounding amounts of manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, B vitamins and more. Prepare it as suggested above to boost the protein content and you’ll see why oatmeal is one of the most nutrient-dense (and sometimes just plain dense) foods around.
All oats are not the same. All oatmeal comes from the oat plant but processing whole oats in different ways creates a variety of tastes and textures from which you can choose. Oat groats is fun to say. As one of the least processed forms of oats (only the hull has been removed), they deliver the most fiber and protein but take over an hour to cook. The hulls from oat groats become oat bran, which is high in fiber and very satiating. Steel-cut oats are chopped groats, which cook a bit faster and are packed with nutrients. Rolled oats are steamed and rolled, a process which foregoes a little of the nutritional value but offers great taste in less time. Quick rolled oats, the kind you can buy in little single-serving pouches, are the most processed and, therefore, the quickest to cook. They may not have the nutritional impact of groats, but they’re a healthy, go-to breakfast when time is short; just be mindful of the sugar content!
Oatmeal is good for your outside, too. Due to its antioxidant properties, the starchy barrier it creates, and the mild exfoliating qualities of its bran, oatmeal is great for your skin. If you don’t believe us, just look at all the lotions and skin creams that include oats as an ingredient. Dry skin? Make a cleanser out of well-ground oats and plain yogurt or olive oil. Apply it to wet skin. Gently rub to exfoliate, then rinse.
We hope you can see that National Oatmeal Month is worth celebrating. Sure, oatmeal may have the reputation of being the epitome of a boring meal. But it has plenty of upside, too. This article is just scratching the healthy (and sometimes lumpy) surface. So…happy National Oatmeal Month, and happy eating, from all of us at Sharity!