Why is oatmeal suddenly considered unhealthy?
Oats make a popular breakfast. They are quickly prepared, inexpensive, tasty and satisfying. With fresh apple, banana or berries, it becomes a colorful and simple breakfast. Especially athletes appreciate oatmeal because of its complex carbohydrates and the proteins contained.
But are oats healthy? Recent articles, make damning judgments, and suddenly clear accusations against the breakfast cereals germinate.
I would like to approach this issue in a completely neutral way and, thus, have dealt with five current allegations.
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1- Oats are unhealthy due to gluten
In the article on Low Carb rolls/buns, I have already written about gluten sensitivity. Gluten can cause long-term chronic inflammation in some people. In people with celiac disease, these negative reactions are particularly pronounced. Even small amounts of gluten can then trigger severe symptoms.
Oatmeal is often chalked up to contain gluten. But here we choose the term gluten too broadly. The cereal contains Avenin and Avenalin.
Although these protein compounds are quite similar to gluten, they contain fewer amino acid sequences associated with intolerances. Coeliac patients react to the gluten proteins gliadin and glutenin, which is why oats should be unproblematic for the majority.
The accusation that it is not healthy because of the gluten is, therefore, unsustainable. For this, the underlying reactions in the intestine are still under-researched. An oat allergy can still explain discomfort after consuming a cereal bowl with oats.
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2 – It contains phytic acid
A second charge as to why this specific breakfast cereal is unhealthy is the phytic acid contained. These reduce the bioavailability of nutrients from the foods you eat.
If you consume too many phytate-containing foods, you could develop nutrient deficits, as they disturb the absorption in the intestine.
Phytates are, therefore, among the antinutrients. They inhibit, for example, the absorption of iron, zinc or calcium.
The flakes contain about 0.42 – 1.16 g of phytic acid per 100 g. However, this amount is relative when one compares with nuts, which are known to contain the most phytic acid: almonds 0.35 – 9.42 g per 100 gram. Since people consume oats in higher quantities, however, this accusation deserves attention.
Tip: To reduce the content of the phytic acid, it is worth softening the oats overnight (Overnight Oats). In addition, it is not recommended to combine the flakes with other foods that contain a lot of phytic acids (e.g. nuts or soy).
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3 – Oatmeal contains unhealthy glyphosate
What is currently hotly debated in politics is also related to oatmeal: glyphosate. This substance is contained in weed killers such as Roundup or Glyphos. In the meantime, the WHO has intervened in the political debate and confirmed that glyphosate can very well be harmful to humans and even carcinogenic. Reference is made to a study by IARC.
It is no wonder that oats are labeled as unhealthy and their benefits considered as controversial since a report of the FDA test. Out of 21 samples tested, more than one in four products contained the harmful glyphosate. The various organic products performed best, as organically foods are free of glyphosate.
This reproach also applies only partially/partly, because you can significantly reduce the content of harmful ingredients with the choice of organic product.
4 – They have detected mineral oils within the fancy cereal
In this regard, I would like to refer again to the above-mentioned report by the FDA, which also demonstrated mineral oils. In this case, the number of products concerned is significantly higher.
Organic products are also affected. This is mainly due to the paper packaging, which contains harmful mineral oils. Of the 21 products tested, 15 were contaminated!
It becomes dangerous when our bodies begin to store the saturated hydrocarbons from the mineral oil. Then they may lead to damage of the liver and lymphatic system.
A product that has no glyphosate is, for example, the well-known Simple Truth organic instant oatmeal (original). As I said, organic is not an exclusion criterion for exposure to mineral oil.
So this accusation is largely true! But the FDA test mentioned also referred to products that do not contain mineral oil. So if you want, you can influence it well.
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5 – Oatmeal is nutrient-poor
Here you can find the nutritional values for 100 g of oatmeal:
Kilocalories 370 kcal
Protein 13 g
Fat 7 g
Carbohydrates 63 g
Fiber 5 g
As you can see, oats are a healthy source of energy. That’s why they are particularly popular with sporty people.
For couch potatoes, however, there is a risk that the amount of energy will turn into an additional mass in the fat deposits.
The high number of carbohydrates continues to cause severe fluctuations in blood sugar and can take revenge on a later craving attack.
However, those who eat the cereal as a result of sporting activity receive a good portion of protein and the body can use the carbohydrates better. (For example, you can do my 100 push-up challenge before eating.)
I cannot confirm that oats are nutrient-poor and, therefore, unhealthy. Depending on which nutrients you choose, you can turn this reproach as you like.
Oatmeal contains nutrients that reach almost 50% of daily needs in 100 g portions (caution: recommendation RDA).
Vitamin B1 53.6%
Vitamin K (1) 90%
These figures show that the flakes can provide a healthy portion of nutrients and are a good ingredient for healthy muesli. Surely not all of us eat 100 g, but nevertheless you get some rare minerals.
I was particularly surprised by manganese, for example. We often have far too little of this. Thus, one to two portions of oatmeal per week can be helpful.
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The bottom line: Are oats now really unhealthy?
Now that we have discussed all five criticisms, I dare to say that this cereal is not unhealthy!
Many of the allegations mentioned are unsustainable and we can easily influence them if we buy consciously.
The problem with gluten applies only to a small proportion of the population. For this purpose, there are also explicitly gluten-free oat products, which has been strictly ensured that they do not come into contact with gluten (e.g. by machines that also process wheat).
Oats only contain a small amount of Phytic acid. I do not see this as a health risk. Much of these substances are lost to soaking.
You can reduce mineral oils and glyphosate by following the manufacturer. Oats still contain more healthy ingredients than, for example, wheat products. They are not a nutrient bomb, but they still offer some valuable minerals.
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Do I have an oat allergy?
These little flakes are a healthy food, but that doesn’t mean that each of us tolerates them equally well. An allergy or intolerance to oats is quite likely.
Symptoms of oat allergy are:
Stomach pain or
Also, skin problems such as irritation, itching or skin impurity may well indicate an oat allergy. High consumption can exacerbate such symptoms.
In case of intolerance or allergic reaction to oats, you should definitely forgo the cereal for a while or use the alternatives described below.
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How do I enjoy oats as healthy as possible?
If you want to enjoy this cereal in a healthy way, you will find a few tips:
1- Enjoy them in moderation: 2 – 3 meals of 50 – 100 g per week should suffice.
2- Soak them in water or milk (substitute) overnight to reduce phytic acid.
3- Add Ceylon cinnamon* and exercise to reduce the blood sugar influence of oats.
4- Pay attention to the manufacturer: Organic is a good choice, even though the oats can still contain mineral oils.
5- Also use alternatives, such as lupine flakes; Amaranth or buckwheat flakes.
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As you can see, as with all foods, there are pros and cons. Thus, no one can give n absolute flat-rate in the sense of healthy or unhealthy! However, you now have some good clues to enjoy your oats as healthy as possible.
What is your opinion on this? Do you see oatmeal as a healthy food for your daily diet? Let us know your thoughts regarding this topic in a comment below. I’m always looking forward to reading from you.
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