In the U.S., most oats are steamed and flattened to produce rolled oats, sold as "old-fashioned" or regular oats, quick oats, and instant oats. The more oats are flattened and steamed, the quicker they cook – and the softer they become. If you prefer a chewier, nuttier texture, consider steel-cut oats, also sometimes called Irish or Scottish oats. Steel-cut oats consist of the entire oat kernel (similar in look to a grain of rice), sliced once or twice into smaller pieces to help water penetrate and cook the grain. Cooked for about 20-30 minutes, steel-cut oats create a breakfast porridge that delights many people who didn't realize they love oatmeal.
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Health Benefits of Oats
Scores of studies have documented the many health benefits of oats.
- Eating oats helps lower LDL "bad" cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Oats help you feel fuller longer, which helps control your weight.
- Oatmeal and oats may help lower blood pressure.
- Oats may help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, since their soluble fiber helps control blood sugar.
- Oats help cut the use of laxatives, without the side effects associated with medications.
- Oats are high in beta-glucans, a kind of starch that stimulates the immune system and inhibits tumors. This may help reduce your risk of some cancers.
- Early introduction of oats in children's diets may help reduce their risk of asthma.
- Oats are higher in protein and healthy fats, and lower in carbohydrates than most other whole grains.
- Oats contain more than 20 unique polyphenols called avenanthramides, which have strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-itching activity.