Mostly well-known as a breakfast staple, oats are a versatile grain that come in many forms and have a multitude of uses. Packed with fiber, wholesome oats will boost your digestive health, and steel-cut oats in particular will keep you satisfied for longer than refined processed grains. Oat milk, meanwhile, can be used as a dairy milk alternative, from your morning bowl of cereal to your rich frothy cappuccino.
ATTRIBUTESOats are typically harvested from midsummer into autumn, but they have a long shelf life for storage once processed. Oats can be eaten in their whole-grain form — steel cut, rolled thick, or rolled thin for instant cooking — or processed into a flour. No matter the form, this super grain is loaded with fiber that helps boost the important digestive microbiome. Oats also have been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve type 2 diabetes and even help with milk production in breastfeeding mothers.
SUPERPOWERSIn addition to being packed with fiber, oats boast a strong nutritional profile. They contain powerful antioxidants, a particular category of phytonutrients that decrease potentially dangerous oxidation and help reduce inflammation in the body. Oats are also high in iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, and zinc.
WEAKNESSESOats are truly a super grain, with very few negative effects. While oats are naturally gluten-free, if being gluten-free is important to you, be sure you're purchasing oats from a certified gluten-free facility, since many production facilities share equipment with wheat and other grains.
HOW TO USE THEMDid you know that rolled oats can ground into a fine flour right at home using a blender? Then the oat flour can be used in baking to create a variety of nutritious sweet treats or in savory recipes, such as scallion pancakes. Oatmeal prepared with dried or fresh fruit is delicious for breakfast, but consider expanding into the realm of savory oatmeals with one of the many recipes online, where you'll find everything from a Turkish-style oatmeal with feta to a spicy Thai peanut version.
Stacey Aggarwal received a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Washington. Now she writes about biology, health and nutrition while running a lavender farm in North Idaho.