Is an Oat Always Just an Oat?
Last updated: March 2022
There is no one food that will provide all the nutrients we require, but oatmeal has a lot to offer and should be included as a daily food choice. Oatmeal is a whole grain, contains soluble fiber (helpful for lowering LDL cholesterol), is a good source of iron, and has a high satiety level-so you feel full after consuming a bowl of oats. Oatmeal also gives us vitamin B1 (thiamin), which helps change carbohydrate into energy, and is especially important for people with diabetes because some studies suggest we tend to be deficient in thiamin. Oatmeal also is a versatile food that can be eaten alone or used as an ingredient in recipes.
Many of my patients with diabetes have asked if the type of oat makes a difference in their blood sugar reading. The answer is yes! There are basically three “groups” of oats that you’ll find in your grocery – steel cut oats, rolled oats (quick, instant, regular, old fashioned), and flavored instant oats.
So, how would I rank these three “groups” of oats for people with diabetes? Drum roll please……
A portion of ½ cup dry rolled oats is about 150 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrate, and 4 grams fiber (2 grams soluble fiber). Rolled oats have no added ingredients, and no sodium. Rolled oats are easy and quick to prepare, and can be added to all kinds of other foods (yogurt or fruit) and recipes (meatloaf) thanks to their smooth texture.
Steel cut oats
A smaller portion size – ⅓ cup dry – is slightly higher in calories (170) and carbohydrate (31 grams) with an identical amount of fiber. Steel cut oats have no added ingredients and no sodium. The texture, however, is not as conducive to being an addition to other foods, especially uncooked.
The packets of flavored oatmeal often include added sugar and sodium.
Oats are a fabulous food for diabetes, but, just like with most every food, it’s important to make the best choice.
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