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Health Benefits of Including Steel Cut Oats in Your Diet

written by: Jennifer Gonzalez • edited by: Tania Cowling • updated: 6/20/2011

Healthy eating has become a priority for many people across the country, and everyone is trying to find healthy additions to add to their meals. Steel cut oats are a great choice for many, especially since they are packed with vitamins and minerals, and give you amazing benefits to your health.

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    What Are Steel Cut Oats?

    oatmeal It seems like every time you turn around there is a new fad diet or a quick fix that is supposed to help you to become healthier. The truth is that becoming healthy takes time. It also takes discipline and willpower to stop eating fatty foods, and to focus on eating foods with higher health benefits such as steel cut oats.

    Steel cut oats are a less processed, and more natural version of the instant flat oats (rolled oats) we see in our morning bowl of instant oatmeal. Steel cut oats have been taken from the inner part of the oats kernel, also known as the groat. Once the kernel has been removed, it is cut into smaller pieces (usually in a mill) by using a sharp, steel blade. The method used while cutting the oat is where we get the name "steel cut oats."

    Since this form of oat is natural and not highly processed, it is able to maintain a favorable amount of its nutrients that other oats may lose during their processing procedure. Because you are getting these oats in their natural state, they take much longer to cook, and you will find that they have a chewier texture than many other oats.

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    Benefits and Nutrition of Steel Cut Oats

    Since we live in an 'on-the-go' society, people are getting many of their meals from fast food restaurants. Dietitians and other health professionals have begun recommending the addition of whole grain foods to our every day diets. The whole grains such as those found in steel cut oats, provides us with numerous health and nutritional benefits that help to bind the nutritional gap that many of us have in our diets.

    Steel cut oats are one of the healthiest foods you can add to your diet. Consuming these oats on a regular basis provides you with:

    • Soluble fiber- helps to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL), and raise your good cholesterol (HDL).
    • Insoluble fiber- helps food move quickly thought the bowels, and may help to prevent colon cancer and other forms of bowel related cancers.
    • Steel cut oats provides a boost to your immune system.
    • Steel cut oats provides your body with cancer fighting chemicals.
    • Protein- which will help you feel fuller longer after eating, and will help to prevent unnecessary snacking throughout the day.
    • Fiber- lowers your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Fiber also helps to prevent constipation.

    Steel cut oats also has many vitamins and minerals such as:

    • Calcium
    • Magnesium
    • Iron
    • Potassium
    • Zinc
    • B-6
    • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • Folate

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    Adding Oats to Your Diet

    Adding steel cut oats into your diet is easier than ever since they are a very versatile food item. Steel cut oats can be used in baking as an ingredient in muffins, cookies, and different types of cakes. You can use steel cut oats in place of breadcrumbs to add a nutritious crunch to your favorite recipes, or try making a homemade trail mix or granola bar using your oats. Steel cut oats are also delicious when eaten as your morning bowl of oatmeal. Top with fresh fruit for added nutrition.

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    Cooking Steel Cut Oats

    Preparing steel cut oats takes a bit more time than regular instant oatmeal, but you will find that it is well worth the time and effort. To make yourself a bowl of plain steel cut oats, you will need the following: (Makes 2 to 4 servings)

    • 3 Cups of Water
    • 1 Cup of Steel Cut Oats
    • Salt

    Pour 3 cups of water into a medium sized saucepot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once you have the water at a rapid boil, stir in your steel cut oats and a pinch of salt. Bring the water back to a boil and then turn your heat from high, to medium-low. Place a lid over the oats, but leave a slight opening to allow some steam to escape. Simmer your oats for about 20 to 30 minutes; 20 minutes will make for chewy oats, while 30 minutes will give you a softer texture. Once your oats are prepared, sweeten to your taste or enjoy as it is.

    Adding honey, syrup, fresh preserves or jelly are all wonderful ways to add sweetness and a little extra flavor to a plain bowl of oatmeal. They are also great options for making oatmeal more appealing to smaller children.

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    Steel Oats vs. Rolled Oats

    Since Steel Oats and rolled oats are very similar to one another, you might ask what the big difference is between the two. While both are nutritionally sound, steel oats keep you feeling full longer because they take longer for your body to digest, they have a stronger nuttier flavor and have more cholesterol lowering abilities than rolled oats. When looking at the two, the benefits of steel cut oats outweigh those of rolled oats.

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    References

    Health Benefits of Oatmeal; http://www.versagrain.com/benefits-of-oatmeal.html

    Health Matters; http://www.kingcounty.gov/employees/HealthMatters/Newsletter/OlderNewsletters/Feb09/EatSmartFoodsHeart.aspx

    Nutritional Benefits of Steel Cut Oats; http://www.myyogaonline.com/community/blog/nutritional-benefits-of-steel-cut-oats

    The Kitchen; http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/tips-techniques/slow-and-easy-how-to-cook-perfect-steelcut-oats-105077

    Image: Irish Oatmeal by Kim Love under CC BY-SA 2.0


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