Four Types of Oatmeal and How to Use Them

Oatmeal is a tasty and healthy breakfast food. Here are four types of oatmeal and why they’re important.

When it comes to a quick and healthy breakfast, nothing beats a bowl of hot oatmeal. Not only is it a good source of vitamins and minerals, but it’s also high in soluble fiber which helps to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Oatmeal is also a “stick to your ribs” type of food that will fill you up and keeps your energy levels high throughout your busy morning. These days, navigating the hot cereal aisle can be an exercise in confusion with so many types of oatmeal available. It’s no longer as simple  as picking up a cardboard canister of Quaker oats. You have so many options to choose from. What are the different types of oatmeal and which one is best for your purposes?

Old Fashioned Oats

This is the type of oatmeal you’re probably most familiar with. To make this type of oat, oat groats are steam heated and then flattened to create an oat flake. The thickness of the flake can vary, with the thinner flakes producing a softer, creamier bowl of oatmeal. Old-fashioned oats are usually the least expensive type of oatmeal and can often be bought in bulk at health food co-ops and natural food stores.

Quick Cooking Oats

To make quick cooking oats, old fashioned oats are pressed into even thinner flakes and cut into small pieces to allow them to cook quicker. As a result preparation time is usually shorter and the finished product a bit softer than the old fashioned oats. Some people say old fashioned oats are healthier because they have a lower glycemic index which means they don’t affect blood sugar levels as much as quick cooking oats.

Steel-cut Oats

To make steel-cut oats, oat groats are chopped into tiny pieces. Steel-cut oats have a hard, rather course, texture which requires a longer cooking time and yields a slightly chewier product. The advantage to steel-cut oats is their glycemic index which is lower than even old fashioned oats. This gives certain health advantages if you’re diabetic or trying to lose weight. Some people prefer the chewier texture of steel-cut oats, although they’re more expensive and harder to find than other types of oatmeal. They can usually be found at most natural food markets.

Instant Oatmeal

Yes, those little packets of instant oatmeal and quick and convenient, but they’re often loaded with sugar and salt. It’s tempting to buy them because of their ease of preparation. Plus, they often have added flavoring which makes the taste more appealing. Keep in mind you can add your own flavoring to old fashioned or steel-cut oatmeal using fruit, yogurt, nuts, maple syrup, flavor extracts, and even peanut butter which is a healthier and less expensive option. 

Whichever type of oatmeal you choose, this is one food you’ll want to add to your breakfast table. At around 140 calories a cup, it’s the ideal food for a healthy morning meal.

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  1. Interesting read! I never knew that about steel-cut oats before. This is very well written.

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