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Healthy Habits: Oatmeal – A grain for your health

Advocates for oatmeal as their breakfast have some valid credibility for their choice. This whole-grain food can do plenty of positive things for your health. Eaten with water or milk of some type, oatmeal, when not mixed with sugary toppings, won't let your body down.

One cup of oatmeal has 166 calories, 4 grams of fiber, about 3 grams of fat, and almost 6 grams of protein. There are different types which include crushed, rolled, steel cut, and oat groat. Some like it hot and others like it cold.

For starters, it is a low-calorie food with plenty of vitamins and minerals. It has magnesium, iron, vitamin B, folate, copper, and phosphorus. There are lots of antioxidants, but specifically, avenanthramides (found almost only in oats), which can reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and lower blood pressure by producing nitric acid.

Beta-glucan is also found in oatmeal, which research has shown can improve cholesterol. Another benefit of beta-glucan is its ability to reduce blood sugar. Persons with type-2 diabetes have found eating oatmeal to help regulate their blood sugar levels. This improves insulin response. It is low on the glycemic index.

When a person consumes beta-glucan it creates a gel-like substance. The gel coats the digestive tract which actually helps produce more healthy bacteria. Another digestive benefit is the amount of fiber in oatmeal, which can alleviate constipation. This fiber also helps you feel fuller.

All in all, oatmeal can be a great addition to your nutrition for weight management. It is a beneficial breakfast selection.

What you add to the oatmeal for taste should be of consideration. Adding brown sugar, fruit, honey, and other sweetening or flavorful items are not part of the overall picture when it comes to the benefits of eating oatmeal.

A little cinnamon and water can do the trick, but everyone has their taste bud preferences. The nutrition label on oatmeal is certainly a dietician's dream, so do yourself a favor, and have a few bites to get your day started right.

Megan Johnson McCullough earned her doctorate in physical education and health science, is a professional natural bodybuilder and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine master trainer.


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