Here’s Why Oats Are a Wonder Food
It will come as no surprise that oats are a fantastic addition to any diet, but there are many more reasons why you ought to eat more of them than you might think.
First up, oats are full of fibre. The specific fibre they contain, beta glucan, turns into a gel-like substance in the stomach and then is broken down by the gut bacteria, a process which helps to maintain good gut health and lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Fibrous foods like oats are great for heart health too and have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease in several studies.
Amongst their many benefits, oats contain a whole host of important vitamins and minerals. They’re rich in selenium which is important for immune health because it lowers oxidative stress in your body, which reduces inflammation and improves immunity in the process. Oats also contain iron, which the body needs for growth and development, and copper, which helps maintain healthy bones, blood vessels and nerves and contributes to iron absorption. They’re also high in zinc, which is essential for proper wound healing and blood clotting, and vitamin B1, which helps the cells convert food into energy.
As well as being great for your overall health, oats are a great addition to your fitness regime. The slow releasing energy they provide means sustained energy over a longer period of time, which can hugely impact your workout for the better. Oats can also reduce muscle soreness thanks to special antioxidants they contain called avenanthramides. These high anti-inflammatory molecules have been shown to reduce oxidative stress to muscles, which can be caused by intense exercise. That means eating them before and after your workout is a great idea both as a preventative measure and a rescue mission.
As if that weren’t enough to convince you, eating oats can help lift your mood. That’s thanks to the gut-brain axis which consists of direct communication and links between the central nervous system and the gut. When our gut is in good health, the bacteria also produce hundreds of neurochemicals, like serotonin that can help boost memory, learning and mood.
When it comes to what kind of oats to choose, opt for the least processed option possible which will retain much more of the nutrient value, such as steel cut oats. Steer clear of the instant microwavable variety as they’re heavily processed and so lower in fibre and nutrients. They may also have added sugar or sweeteners. A handful of oats in your smoothie every morning is a great way to add more to your diet, while soaking them in plant or regular milk overnight for bircher muesli is also a good option. Soaking and cooking oats in porridge also helps break down the starch which makes them easier to digest. If you like your muesli or porridge flavoured, mix a scoop of Workshop’s Organic Vanilla Pea Protein Formula through for an extra boost of goodness and flavour.