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Oats For Diabetes

Oats are a nutrient rich cereal grain that grows even in poor soil conditions. Known scientifically as Avena sativa, they are one of the most nutritionally complete foods, with high content of vitamins, minerals and fiber. The seeds are rolled or crushed into oatmeal or ground into oat flour. Oats contains a wide array of antioxidants which help maintain a healthy heart. Oats are very beneficial for diabetes patients as they help in regulating blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
They are easy to digest making them the perfect food for those with digestive problems.

In comparison to other cereals, oats have one of the highest proportions of proteins. They also have one of the highest concentrations of the vitamin B family as well as high levels of vitamin K, vitamin E and minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc. Their soluble fiber content is higher than corn, rice or whole wheat.

Diabetics often suffer from related diseases like heart disease and kidney disease. Studies show that oatmeal can help reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The fiber in oats may have a beneficial impact on LDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. This soluble fiber also provides a sustained release of glucose into the bloodstream. Saponin, a hormone-like substance found in oats, helps the pancreas regulate the production of insulin. This is how eating oats helps to normalize blood glucose levels in diabetics and can even reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Weight loss is an important aspect of diabetes management and can even delay the onset of diabetes in pre-diabetics. The soluble fiber in oatmeal can absorb a lot of water. This helps the digestive process and makes one feel full for a longer period, thus helping one to maintain a healthy body weight. They are also beneficial for individuals with gluten intolerance, as the protein found in oats differs from gluten, making oats easier to digest.

Oats are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that is needed in the manufacture of many enzymes. Some of these enzymes play a part in insulin secretion and the body’s use of glucose. Studies have shown that diets rich in whole grains with high levels of magnesium have a beneficial effect on the heart and may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies have also shown that type 2 diabetics who ate oatmeal or oat bran rich foods had a much lower increase in post prandial blood sugar than those who ate white rice or bread. For diabetics, it is advisable to start the day with a blood stabilizing food like oatmeal. This may ensure that blood sugar levels stay under control for the rest of the day especially when followed by fiber rich food. More on calories in oats

The distinctive flavor of oats is a result of the roasting process that they undergo upon harvesting. The hulling process doesn’t strip them of their bran and germ. This allows them to retain their fiber and nutrient content. Different processes are used to obtain the different types of oat products. These are generally used to make baked goods, stuffing and breakfast cereals. Some of the different types of oat products are:

  • Instant oatmeal is produced by cooking the grains and then rolling them into thin layers. Sugar, salt and other ingredients are often added to result in finished food with distinctive flavors.
  • Oat groats are the unflattened kernels which are used as breakfast cereal and for stuffing.
  • Steel-cut oats are produced slicing the grain into thin slices with steel blades. They have a dense and chewy texture.
  • Oat bran is the outer layer of the grain that is found under the hull. While it is found in rolled oats and in steel cut oats, it may also be purchased separately and cooked to make hot cereal.
  • Oat flour is used in baking, often being combined with wheat and other flavors when making leavened bread.
  • Old-fashioned oats are first steamed and then rolled resulting in a flatter shape.
  • Quick-cooking oats undergo the same process as old-fashioned oats but are cut into fine bits before being rolled.

These different types of oats require different cooking methods for making hot cereal or porridge. Generally, it is best to add the oats to cold water and then let them simmer. Steel-cut and rolled oats require two parts of water for every part of oats. Rolled oats take approximately half the time of the approximately 30 minutes it takes to cook steel-cut oats. Oat groats require more water and more time to cook. About three parts water for one part oats should be left to simmer for about 50 minutes. For added flavor you can consider adding nuts and fruits to your bowl of oatmeal.

Submitted on January 16, 2014