ATTRIBUTES: A bowl of cooked oatmeal may not be much to look at, but beneath its humble appearance lies a bonanza of nutritional benefits. This ancient grain contains 11 grams of protein per cup, along with a healthy dose of the minerals manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium.

SUPERPOWERS: One cup of oats checks in at a fairly substantial 300 calories, but that serving will keep you full for hours. That's because oats also contain an abundance of a particularly powerful form of soluble fiber called beta-glucan. Several servings of oats a week may help stabilize blood sugar levels, protect against cancer and reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.

WEAKNESSES: Although oats are naturally gluten-free, they are so commonly grown near gluten-containing crops that they are considered contaminated. Oats certified as gluten-free are available.

HOW TO USE THEM: For a healthier alternative to breakfast pastries and donuts, try a hearty square of baked oatmeal, dressed up with chopped apples, walnuts and raisins.

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About The Author

Anne McGregor

Anne McGregor is a contributor to the Inlander and the editor of InHealth. She is married to Inlander editor/publisher Ted S. McGregor, Jr.