Know Your Oats: Rolled, Steel-Cut & Instant
Oat milk might be the latest new way to enhance your coffee, but good ol’ oats have always
been in fashion! There’s a reason grandma always offered you oats when you were growing
up; wholesome, filling, and extremely nourishing, oats are among the healthiest grains in
existence. Just one cup of dry oats contains 51 grams of carbs, 13 grams of protein, 5 grams
of fat, 8 grams of fibre, and only 303 calories. Oats are also naturally gluten-free and a great
source of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!
Time and again you’ve been told of the many benefits of oats and how oatmeal should be
part of your diet. However, go to the supermarket to buy oats and you’ll find yourselves
thoroughly confused — rolled oats? Steel-cut oats? Instant oats? Out of the many different
types of oats available in the market, it is hard to pick one over the other, especially when
you’re not sure what the difference is. Here’s a lowdown on what each variety of oats is, and
how they’re great for you.
What are oats?
Oats, also called Avena Sativa, is a type of cereal grain grown for its seed, which is what is
consumed by us. The outer hull of the oats seeds is inedible and is removed before further
processing. The oat kernels that have their hulls removed are called oat groats, and these
groats are then processed in different ways to create either steel-cut, rolled or instant oats,
all of which have distinct characteristics.
What is oatmeal?
While the word “oats” refers to the whole grains in their natural form, traditionally, the word
“oatmeal” was used for the processed form of oats, like steel-cut oats, rolled oats, and
instant oats. Now, the words are often used interchangeably.
Also called Irish oats, steel-cut oats are the least processed form of oats. As the name
suggests, they’re made by chopping the oat groats into pieces with steel blades. What
remains is a coarse mixture that looks like cut up grains of brown rice.
Steel-cut oats have a chewier, nuttier flavour than other types of oats, and also have a
longer cooking time than the others. This cooking time can be reduced by soaking the oats
beforehand. Porridge is often made using steel-cut oats. One of the most wholesome forms
of oats, steel-cut oats take longer to digest, keeping you full for longer, thus making them
excellent for healthy weight loss. The minimal processing also ensures that steel-cut oats
are high in nutrition, more than any other oat variants.
Rolled oats are made by steaming whole oat groats, and then rolling them out into flakes.
Since these oats are partially cooked, they have a shorter cooking time than steel-cut oats,
also in part because of their large surface area. They have a milder flavour and softer
texture, and are often the main ingredient in granola and muesli.
Instant oats are the fastest cooking oats of the different types of oatmeal as they are
steamed longer, rolled thinner and finely chopped. These are the most processed of all oat
types, made by steaming and rolling the oat groat, which is then pre-cooked, dried and then
further chopped into small pieces. This makes it easy for them to absorb liquids for very
quick cooking.mMany instant oats available in the market also have added sugars and
flavours, making them a less healthy and nutritious option than other kinds of oatmeal.
Which type of oats is the healthiest?
Comparing the nutritional values of these different oats shows that there is a very slight
difference in the nutritional values of these three oat types. That being said, steel-cut oats
contain the most fibre, which is beneficial for digestive health by fuelling the good bacteria in
the intestines. Steel-cut oats also have a lower glycemic index than rolled or instant oats.
Foods with a higher glycemic index cause rapid spikes in blood sugar compared to foods
lower on the glycemic index which provide a slower release of energy and can help stabilise
blood sugar. As mentioned before, steel-cut oats can actually keep you full for longer,
thereby making them very effective for weight-loss.
Once again, since the nutritional differences between the different oat types are slight, your
choice of oats should depend on what type fits your lifestyle the best. While the unique taste
of steel-cut oats may be appealing to some, others may find it too hearty. Its longer cooking
time may also make it inconvenient for people living fast-paced lives. Rolled and instant oats
have a milder taste and cook down to a creamy, smooth consistency that some people
prefer over steel-cut oats, while also cooking faster than steel-cut oats. And, while some
people find instant oats to be the most palatable of the three, the extra sugars and flavours
added in some varieties of instant oats may make them less healthy options for those
watching what they eat.
Oats have a well-balanced nutrition composition, and are a good source of carbohydrates,
fibre, and protein. They are also loaded with antioxidants and important vitamins and
minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, copper, iron, and zinc. Beta-glucan, a soluble
fibre present in oats and oatmeal, can help reduce cholesterol, while also helping regulate
the digestive system, lowering blood sugar levels, and protecting against skin irritation.
Avenanthramides are antioxidants that are not found in any other cereal grains, and help
reduce inflammation and relax arteries, improving heart health.
Whether it’s steel-cut, rolled, or instant, all types of oatmeal provide numerous health
benefits for your body, helping you stay nourished and healthy through the day. From
porridge & yoghurt bowls to smoothies, cookies, and so much more, there are endless ways
to incorporate oatmeal into your diet! Take your pick from our heart-healthy, fibrous and
plant-protein packed Oats & Seeds Crackers, Oats Cranberry Cookies, or Cinnamon Oats Granola for a wholesome pick-me-up you won’t be able to put down.
Have a unique way of incorporating oats into your diet? You OAT to share it with us! DM us
on Instagram @nourish.organics and send us images, recipes, or tips on how you use our products to make your life more Nourishing!