Oatmeal, possibly the world’s greatest food

Oatmeal in my opinion is possibly the world’s greatest food and one of the least eaten. Only 5% of all oat crops in the world are actually consumed by humans. Don’t let that fool you though this grain is a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition. If oatmeal doesn’t currently fill a consistent spot within your daily food intake here are four reasons why maybe it should:

1. A large percentage of North America is becoming increasingly aware of sensitivities to wheat gluten, which happens to be in just about everything. Reactions range from likely unnoted indigestion and bloating all the way to major inflammation, fatigue and vomiting. Oatmeal by comparison doesn’t cause such uncomfortable allergic reactions and in fact can aid in reducing internal inflammation which has been suggested to assist in prevention of inflammatory diseases, even cancer.

2. By now you likely understand that balancing blood sugar can be a key ingredient for weight management – oatmeal just happens to be an all-star in this category for its slower consistent digestion. Compared to many similar grains it produces a much less dramatic blood sugar spike upon digestion. This also means that it will help you maintain a feeling of being full longer helping to reduce cravings and provide you with more stable energy levels for hours after you eat.

3. Oatmeal is also packed with goodness. It’s a great source of essential water soluble B-vitamins, calcium and iron. However, even more important but less known is that oatmeal is also a great source of GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid), an all important Omega 6 essential fatty acid (in fact next to breast milk oatmeal is one of the best known sources). Essential fatty acids are used extensively in hormone production, maintaining tissue and aiding in preventing free radical damage, among many other things. This links oatmeal to be a positive contributor to reducing cholesterol and reducing risk factors for heart and cardiovascular disease.

4. Another great reason to eat oatmeal is that it’s very portable. Having been a personal trainer for well over a decade I can tell you one of the biggest challenges for my clients (and even me) is to be able to eat the right things throughout a busy day on the run. Oatmeal only takes minutes to prepare in the morning, it can enjoyably be eaten hot or cold and lasts pretty much the whole day even unrefrigerated.

So there you have it, next time you’re at the grocery store head to the cereal aisle and grab yourself a bag of oats. To ensure we don’t leave you still somewhat confused know that oatmeal is available in three most common forms. Steel Cut Oats are the least processed and the best for you. They will contain the highest amounts for nutrients available for your body and will also take the longest to prepare. Rolled oats are the most common form available in slow cooking and quick. Slow cooking will be the better choice nutritionally as they are still less processed than the quick variety (and in my opinion taste a lot better).

Here’s a little final challenge for you for next week to improve your health and find your new favourite breakfast: Mix one cup prepared slow cooking rolled oats with ¾ cup cottage cheese (or vanilla protein powder but trust me, try the cottage cheese), ½ cup strawberries or your other favourite fruit. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon, walnuts or pecans, and Stevia, Agave, honey or real maple syrup to sweeten.

This amazing breakfast or snack will provide about 480 calories of top quality nutrition. (Approx 65g carbs, 25g protein, 8g fat). I’d love to hear if you tried it and if you liked it, visit the ‘Personal Training Red Deer’ facebook page and let us know.

Cabel McElderry is the director of One-to-1 Fitness in Red Deer. He can be reached at 403-341-4041. Also check out www.personaltrainingreddeer.com for more information.

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