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Foods

Oats

Why Eat It
Varieties
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation
Nutrition Chart


Why Eat It

Oats are hard to beat for nutritional impact. They are a prime source of the complex carbohydrates that help to sustain energy. They contain about 50% more protein than bulgur and twice as much as brown rice. They offer impressive levels of selenium, thiamin, phosphorus, and manganese, and respectable quantities of copper, folate (folic acid), vitamin E, and zinc.

Varieties

It is the high soluble-fiber content of oats that captures the attention of many nutritionists and has been credited with helping to lower blood cholesterol levels. A cup of cooked oatmeal has 4 grams of fiber--16% of the total amount of fiber you should eat each day--and about half of that is soluble fiber.

Availability

Oat groats: These nutty-tasting whole grains can be eaten as cereal, but are more commonly served as a main or side dish. Groats is used as a stuffing for vegetables or poultry or to thicken soups and sauces. They are typically found in health food and specialty stores.

Steel-cut oats: Usually imported from Ireland or Scotland, this form of oats is made by slicing the grain thinly lengthwise. Commonly eaten as a breakfast cereal, steel cut oats have a dense, chewy texture and take longer to cook than rolled oats. You can also add them to soups and stews.

Rolled oats: These are the familiar forms of oats sold in the supermarket. The grains are heated and pressed flat with steel rollers to shorten cooking times. There are three types of rolled oats: 1) Old-fashioned oats: the whole grain is rolled. 2) Quick-cooking oats: the grains are sliced before rolling. 3) Instant oatmeal: the grains are precooked, dried, and then rolled very thin. Instant oatmeal is often packaged with salt, sugar, flavorings and colorings.

Oat bran: This outer layer of the grain, lighter and finer than wheat bran, is high in fiber and nutrients. It can be eaten as a cereal.

Shopping

Packaged or in bulk, oat products are always in stock.

Storage

Because oats have a slightly higher fat content than other whole grains, they can turn rancid more quickly. Buy them in small quantities.

When buying oats from bulk bins, make sure they smell fresh and are free from chaff or other debris. The store should have a fast turnover and the bins should be emptied and cleaned before adding new stock.

Preparation

Keep oats in tightly closed, airtight containers or plastic bags. Store at room temperature (or in the refrigerator in hot weather) for up to a month. Oat products can be kept for two to three months in the freezer.

Nutrition Chart

Oatmeal/1 cup cooked

145
Total fat (g)
2.3
Saturated fat (g)
0.4
Monounsaturated fat (g)
0.8
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
0.9
Dietary fiber (g)
4
6
Carbohydrate (g)
25
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Sodium (mg)
2
Thiamin (mg)
0.3
Manganese (mg)
1.4
Phosphorus (mg)
178
Selenium (mcg)
19


Date Published: 04/20/2005
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