In terms of quantity, the oat is the fourth leading grain in the United States, behind corn, wheat, and sorghum. Although oats are hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and germ, allowing them to remain a concentrated source of their fiber and nutrients. Different types of processing are then used to produce various oat products, which are generally used to make breakfast cereals, baked goods, and stuffing.
Oat bran’s dietary fiber is high in beta-glucan, which helps to lower cholesterol. Studies also show that oat bran has beneficial effects on blood sugar as well. Adults with type 2 diabetes who were given foods high in oat fiber experienced a much lower rise in blood sugar than those who were given white rice or bread.
How to Select and Store
Oats have a slightly higher fat content than other grains and can go rancid more quickly. As a result, we suggest you buy small quantities at one time. If you purchase already prepared oats, look at the ingredients list to ensure there is no salt, sugar, or other additives. If you buy oats in bulk, make sure that the bins are covered and the store has a fast product turnover to ensure maximum freshness. Fresh oats have a clean, sweet or grassy smell. Cooked oats are good for two to three days and can be frozen for one month.
Quick Serving Ideas:
- For a healthy breakfast, cook oats and add ½ Tsp of organic butter, a pinch of salt, sliced dried prunes or fruit of your choice, 1 Tsp cinnamon, and raw walnut pieces. Once the oats are in your bowl, finish with 1 TB of flax meal, and for sweetness add some maple syrup or raw honey.
- Oatmeal is more than just a breakfast food; try adding chopped vegetables, miso, sesame seed butter (tahini), and fresh herbs and spices to make an easy, one-pot meal.
- With or without raisins, oatmeal cookies are a favorite of kids of all ages.
- Add some oat flour or whole oats to your next bread or muffin recipe.
- Oat bran adds healthy fiber to any cold or hot cereal.
- Try oat groats as the foundation of your next turkey, chicken, or quail stuffing.
Source: Murray, M. (2006) The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, Pocket Books.