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Oatmeal: Why it’s a good breakfast choice

Oatmeal is a type of coarse flour made of hulled oat grains that have either been milled or steel-cut.

A whole grain, oats are rich in fibre, B vitamins, and the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ‘My Plate’ guideline recommends getting at least half your grains from whole grains — more than half is even better.


Besides, more whole grains into your diet may help you live longer, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study published in March 2015.


Health benefits

Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association-Kigali, says consuming oatmeal can be helpful to people who want to lose weight.

According to a research study published in the October 2009 issue of “Molecular Nutrition & Food Research” a compound in oatmeal known as β-glucan reduces appetite by increasing the hunger-fighting hormone cholecystokinin.

Musengimana says compared to other grains, oats actually have the highest portion of soluble fibre.

He says that soluble fibre helps your intestinal tract trap substances that are associated with blood cholesterol. 

Studies show that people with high blood cholesterol who eat just 3 g of soluble fibre per day can reduce their total cholesterol by 8 per cent to 23 per cent.

Other benefits

Studies also show that oatmeal is great for dry, itchy, irritated skin. The starchiness of oats creates a barrier that allows the skin to hold its moisture, while the rougher fibrous husk of the oat acts as a gentle exfoliate.

Musengimana notes that a plate of oatmeal in the morning can help in stabilising blood sugar in the body.

He goes on to note that as a result of oatmeal’s high soluble fibre content, its sugar is released more slowly into the blood stream.

According Musengimana, it’s important to note this meal has a better chance of stabilising your blood sugar because it is less processed and has more soluble fibre.

Another bonus, he says, is that it takes longer to digest oatmeal, making one feel full for some time.

Besides, oatmeal is a great carbohydrate and protein source, providing calories and energy for energy needs.

Oats have been shown in scientific studies to favourably alter metabolism and enhance performance when ingested 45 minutes to one hour before exercise of moderate intensity.

Musengimana says eating oatmeal also helps in boosting one’s immune system.

He says this is because of oatmeal’s unique fibre called beta-glucan, which helps neutrophils travel to the site of an infection more quickly, and enhances the ability to eliminate the bacteria found there.

A bowl of oatmeal in the evening can also facilitate better sleep. According to studies, oats contain melatonin and complex carbohydrates that can help more tryptophan get into the brain and help one sleep well.

Furthermore, oatmeal contains many vitamins, including B6, which is a co-factor that also aids in the production of serotonin in the brain.

Oatmeal is loaded with antioxidants which are important to the body as they protect cells from free radicals.

“These are molecules one produces through metabolism and exposure to environmental toxins. Free radicals increase the risk of cancer and heart disease because they are unstable,” says Musengimana.

It has been established that oats are naturally gluten-free which can facilitate weight loss.

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