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Say whOAT?.......Oatmeal

Oatmeal!!! Did I hear you say “yuck”? Well, this is the response I get from people when I recommend it as a healthy meal. I remember as a kid, it took me hours to finish up this meal, as I often broke into a sweat, wondering why this bland meal had to be included on our menu often! I soon found out its importance and that’s what I want share with you:  After reading this, we hope that oatmeal makes it to ‘top 5’ on your menu subsequently.
Oats, known scientifically as Avena sativa, are a hardy cereal grain able to withstand poor soil conditions in which other crops are unable to thrive. Oats gain part of their distinctive flavor from the roasting process that they undergo after being harvested and cleaned. Although oats are then hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and germ allowing them to retain a concentrated source of their fiber and nutrients. [i] making it one of the healthiest meals.
Oatmeal is a porridge made from oats or its grounded groats like cornmeal, peasemeal, etc. Oatmeal can also be, steel-cut, crushed, or rolled. [ii]
There has been increasing interest in the health benefits of oatmeal in recent years. Studies have shown various interesting benefits that oatmeal provides. It would be expedient to name a few nutrients and vitamins that oats contain before explaining some of the health benefits. The vitamins include,
 Zinc,
Manganese,                                                             
 Selenium,
Magnesium,
Phosphorus.

They also contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, two distinctive fibres that will be discussed in the course of this write up.
Health Benefits of Oatmeal
*    Cholesterol lowering effect: according to the American Heart Association, cholesterol comes in two forms: LDL and HDL. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein and can be thought of as your bad cholesterol because it helps build plague in your body.[iii]
Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan. Since 1963, study after study has proven the beneficial effects of this special fiber on cholesterol levels. Studies show that in individuals with high cholesterol (above 220 mg/dl), consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (an amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%.[iv]  Soluble fibres are soluble in water, they swell and produce a gel like substance, and they help to reduce cholesterol and chances of having heart attacks as less cholesterol is absorbed into the bloodstream. They also help to moderate blood glucose levels.
*    Improvement of intestinal health
Oatmeal contains insoluble fibres that improve intestinal health, these fibres do not absorb or dissolve water, and it passes through our digestive system in close to its original form.  Insoluble fibre offers many benefits to intestinal health, including a reduction in the risk and occurrence of colorectal cancer (commonly known as colon or bowel cancer), hemorrhoids, and constipation.[v]
*    Antioxidant benefits: Oatmeal is rich in selenium as earlier mentioned, it works with vitamin E in numerous vital antioxidant systems throughout the body. [vi] These powerful antioxidant actions make selenium helpful in decreasing asthma symptoms and in the prevention of heart disease. In addition, selenium is involved in DNA repair and is associated with a reduced risk for cancer, especially colon cancer.
*    The dieter’s delight:  The soluble fibre in oat makes it so filling, reducing hunger and delaying the need for another meal, it creates gels as earlier mentioned, and these gels delay stomach emptying so the stomach feels fuller much longer. It’s a great meal for a diet plan.
There are many more health benefits of oats but we have only discussed few which are also very important. Now we understand that oatmeal can taste very bland to some people, here are some tips on adding flavor to it, these items are easy to find at any grocery store or supermarket
*    Prepare it with milk, or soymilk (which is rich in protein)
*    Add freshly chopped fruits. Personally, I dice apples and add
*    Add a handful of nuts ,for example chopped almonds,
*    Add half a teaspoon of cinnamon (very good flavor)
*    Add dried fruits or raisins
Have an oat filled meal!!!

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