The World's Healthiest Foods are health-promoting foods that can change your life.

Try the exciting new lunch recipe from Day 3 of our upcoming 7-Day Meal Plan.

The George Mateljan Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation with no commercial interests or
advertising. Our mission is to help you eat and cook the healthiest way for optimal health.
Oats
Oats

What better way to gain the strength and energy to carry you through a hectic morning schedule than with a steaming bowl of freshly cooked oatmeal. Oats are harvested in the fall but are available throughout the year and can add extra nutrition to a variety of healthy dishes.

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.

Oats, unprocessed, dry
0.25 cup
(39.00 grams)
Calories: 152
GI: low

NutrientDRI/DV




 copper27%

 biotin26%



 fiber17%


 zinc14%

 protein13%


This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Oats provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Oats can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Oats, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

Health Benefits

Oats Lower Cholesterol Levels

A steaming bowl of fresh cooked oatmeal is the perfect way to start off your day, especially if you are trying to prevent or are currently dealing with heart disease or diabetes. 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%. This is highly significant since each 1% drop in serum cholesterol translates to a 2% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease. High cholesterol levels correlate with the build up of plaques in blood vessel walls. If these plaques become damaged or simply grow too large, they can rupture, blocking a blood vessel and causing a heart attack, stroke, or blood clots elsewhere in the body. Lowering high cholesterol levels can therefore significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as oats, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily. Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD.

Unique Oat Antioxidants Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Oats, via their high fiber content, are already known to help remove cholesterol from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream. Now, the latest research suggests they may have another cardio-protective mechanism.

Antioxidant compounds unique to oats, called avenanthramides, help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, suggests a study conducted at Tufts University and published in The Journal of Nutrition.

In this study, laboratory animals were fed saline containing 0.25 grams of phenol-rich oat bran, after which blood samples were taken at intervals from 20 to 120 minutes. After 40 minutes, blood concentrations of avenanthramides had peaked, showing these compounds were bioavailable (able to be absorbed).

Next, the researchers tested the antioxidant ability of avenanthramides to protect LDL cholesterol against oxidation (free radical damage) induced by copper. Not only did the avenanthramides increase the amount of time before LDL became oxidized, but when vitamin C was added, the oat phenols interacted synergistically with the vitamin, extending the time during which LDL was protected from 137 to 216 minutes.

In another study also conducted at Tufts and published in Atherosclerosis, researchers exposed human arterial wall cells to purified avenenthramides from oats for 24 hours, and found that these oat phenols significantly suppressed the production of several types of molecules involved in the attachment of monocytes (immune cells in the bloodstream) to the arterial wall—the first step in the development of atherosclerosis.

Oat avenanthamides suppressed production of ICAM-1 (intracellular adhesion molecule-1) and VCAM-1 (vascular adhesion molecule-1), E-selectin, and the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines KL-6, chemokines IL-8 and protein MCP-1 (monocyte chemoattractant protein). Our advice: Cut an orange (which is rich in vitamin C) in quarters or pour yourself a glass of orange juice to enjoy along with your oatmeal. If you prefer some other grain for your breakfast cereal, top it with a heaping spoonful of oat bran.

Prevent Heart Failure with a Whole Grains Breakfast

Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization among the elderly in the United States. Success of drug treatment is only partial (ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers are typically used; no evidence has found statins safe or effective for heart failure), and its prognosis remains poor. Follow up of 2445 discharged hospital patients with heart failure revealed that 37.3% died during the first year, and 78.5% died within 5 years. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Mar 12;167(5):490-6.;Eur Heart J. 2006 Mar;27(6):641-3.

Since consumption of whole grain products and dietary fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack, Harvard researchers decided to look at the effects of cereal consumption on heart failure risk and followed 21,376 participants in the Physicians Health Study over a period of 19.6 years. After adjusting for confounding factors (age, smoking, alcohol consumption, vegetable consumption, use of vitamins, exercise, and history of heart disease), they found that men who simply enjoyed a daily morning bowl of whole grain (but not refined) cereal had a 29% lower risk of heart failure. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Oct 22;167(19):2080-5. Isn't your heart worth protecting, especially when the prescription—a morning bowl of hearty whole grains—is so delicious? For quick, easy, heart-healthy, whole grain recipes, click The World's Healthiest Foods, and look at the "How to Enjoy" section in any of our grain profiles.

Oats May Offer Significant Cardiovascular Benefits for Postmenopausal Women

Eating a serving of whole grains, such as oats, at least 6 times each week is an especially good idea for postmenopausal women with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

A 3-year prospective study of over 200 postmenopausal women with CVD, published in the American Heart Journal, shows that those eating at least 6 servings of whole grains each week experienced both:

  • Slowed progression of atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque that narrows the vessels through which blood flows, and
  • Less progression in stenosis, the narrowing of the diameter of arterial passageways.
The women's intake of fiber from fruits, vegetables and refined grains was not associated with a lessening in CVD progression.

Oats May Enhance Immune Response to Infection

In laboratory studies reported in Surgery, beta-glucan significantly enhanced the human immune system's response to bacterial infection. Beta-glucan not only helps neutrophils (the most abundant type of non-specific immune cell) navigate to the site of an infection more quickly, it also enhances their ability to eliminate the bacteria they find there.

According to study leader Jonathan Reichner of the Department of Surgery at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, priming neutrophils with beta-glucan helps these immune defenders quickly locate the bacterial mother lode within infected tissue. And this more rapid response to infection results in faster microbial clearance and healing. Since our non-specific immune defenses are the body's first strike forces against invading pathogens, starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal may boost your immune response in addition to your morning energy levels.

Oats May Stabilize Blood Sugar

Studies also show that beta-glucan has beneficial effects in diabetes as well. Type 2 diabetes patients given foods high in this type of oat fiber or given oatmeal or oat bran rich foods experienced much lower rises in blood sugar compared to those who were given white rice or bread. Starting out your day with a blood sugar stabilizing food such as oats may make it easier to keep blood sugar levels under control the rest of the day, especially when the rest of your day is also supported with nourishing fiber-rich foods.

Oats and Other Whole Grains Substantially Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Oats and other whole grains are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body's use of glucose and insulin secretion.

The FDA permits foods that contain at least 51% whole grains by weight (and are also low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol) to display a health claim stating consumption is linked to lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Now, research suggests regular consumption of whole grains also reduces risk of type 2 diabetes. (van Dam RM, Hu FB, Diabetes Care).

In this 8-year trial, involving 41,186 particpants of the Black Women's Health Study, research data confirmed inverse associations between magnesium, calcium and major food sources in relation to type 2 diabetes that had already been reported in predominantly white populations.

Risk of type 2 diabetes was 31% lower in black women who frequently ate whole grains compared to those eating the least of these magnesium-rich foods. When the women's dietary intake of magnesium intake was considered by itself, a beneficial, but lesser—19%—reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes was found, indicating that whole grains offer special benefits in promoting healthy blood sugar control. Daily consumption of low-fat dairy foods was also helpful, lowering risk of type 2 diabetes by 13%. Enjoy a hearty breakfast and get the benefits of both oats and dairy by serving hot oatmeal, spiced with cinnamon, and topped with handful of walnuts and low-fat milk.

Fiber from Whole Grains, Such as Oats, and Fruit Protective against Breast Cancer

When researchers looked at how much fiber 35,972 participants in the UK Women's Cohort Study ate, they found a diet rich in fiber from whole grains, such as oats, and fruit offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women. (Cade JE, Burley VJ, et al., International Journal of Epidemiology).

Pre-menopausal women eating the most fiber (>30 grams daily) more than halved their risk of developing breast cancer, enjoying a 52% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women whose diets supplied the least fiber (<20 grams/day).

Fiber supplied by whole grains offered the most protection. Pre-menopausal women eating the most whole grain fiber (at least 13 g/day) had a 41% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those with the lowest whole grain fiber intake (4 g or less per day).

Fiber from fruit was also protective. Pre-menopausal women whose diets supplied the most fiber from fruit (at least 6 g/day) had a 29% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those with the lowest fruit fiber intake (2 g or less per day).

Practical Tip: As the following table shows, it's surprisingly easy to enjoy a healthy way of eating that delivers at least 13 grams of whole grain fiber and 6 grams of fiber from fruit each day.

FoodFiber Content in Grams
Oatmeal, 1 cup3.98
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice2
Whole wheat spaghetti, 1 cup6.3
Brown rice, 1 cup3.5
Barley, 1 cup13.6
Buckwheat, 1 cup4.54
Rye, 1/3 cup8.22
Corn, 1 cup4.6
Apple, 1 medium with skin5.0
Banana, 1 medium4.0
Blueberries, 1 cup3.92
Orange, 1 large4.42
Pear, 1 large5.02
Prunes, 1/4 cup3.02
Strawberries, 1 cup3.82
Raspberries, 1 cup8.36

*Fiber content can vary between brands. Source: esha Research, Food Processor for Windows, Version 7.8

Cereal and Fruit Fiber Protective against Postmenopausal Breast Cancer

Results of a prospective study involving 51,823 postmenopausal women for an average of 8.3 years showed a 34% reduction in breast cancer risk for those consuming the most fruit fiber compared to those consuming the least. In addition, in the subgroup of women who had ever used hormone replacement, those consuming the most fiber, especially cereal fiber, had a 50% reduction in their risk of breast cancer compared to those consuming the least. Int J Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;122(2):403-12.

Fruits richest in fiber include apples, dates, figs, pears and prunes. When choosing a high fiber cereal, look for whole grain cereals as they supply the most bran (a mere 1/3rd cup of bran contains about 14 grams of fiber). A cup of oatmeal delivers 15% of the RDI for fiber. Start out your day with a bowl of hot oatmeal or if you prefer cold cereal, oatmeal granola, and you'll be well on your way to meeting your daily RDI for fiber.

Whole Grains and Fish Highly Protective against Childhood Asthma

According to the American Lung Association, almost 20 million Americans suffer from asthma, which is reported to be responsible for over 14 million lost school days in children, and an annual economic cost of more than $16.1 billion.

Increasing consumption of whole grains and fish could reduce the risk of childhood asthma by about 50%, suggests the International Study on Allergy and Asthma in Childhood (Tabak C, Wijga AH, Thorax).

The researchers, from the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Utrecht University, University Medical Center Groningen, used food frequency questionnaires completed by the parents of 598 Dutch children aged 8-13 years. They assessed the children's consumption of a range of foods including fish, fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grain products. Data on asthma and wheezing were also assessed using medical tests as well as questionnaires.

While no association between asthma and intake of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products was found (a result at odds with other studies that have supported a link between antioxidant intake, particularly vitamins C and E, and asthma), the children's intake of both whole grains and fish was significantly linked to incidence of wheezing and current asthma.

In children with a low intake of fish and whole grains, the prevalence of wheezing was almost 20%, but was only 4.2% in children with a high intake of both foods. Low intake of fish and whole grains also correlated with a much higher incidence of current asthma (16.7%). compared to only a 2.8% incidence of current asthma among children with a high intake of both foods.

After adjusting results for possible confounding factors, such as the educational level of the mother, and total energy intake, high intakes of whole grains and fish were found to be associated with a 54 and 66% reduction in the probability of being asthmatic, respectively.

The probability of having asthma with bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), defined as having an increased sensitivity to factors that cause narrowing of the airways, was reduced by 72 and 88% when children had a high-intake of whole grains and fish, respectively. Lead researcher, CoraTabak commented, "The rise in the prevalence of asthma in western societies may be related to changed dietary habits." We agree. The Standard American Diet is sorely deficient in the numerous anti-inflammatory compounds found in fish and whole grains, notably, the omega-3 fats supplied by cold water fish and the magnesium and vitamin E provided by whole grains. One caution: wheat may need to be avoided as it is a common food allergen associated with asthma.

Health-Promoting Activity Equal to or Even Higher than that of Vegetables and Fruits

Research reported at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) International Conference on Food, Nutrition and Cancer, by Rui Hai Liu, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues at Cornell University shows that whole grains, such as oats, contain many powerful phytonutrients whose activity has gone unrecognized because research methods have overlooked them.

Despite the fact that for years researchers have been measuring the antioxidant power of a wide array of phytonutrients, they have typically measured only the "free" forms of these substances, which dissolve quickly and are immediately absorbed into the bloodstream. They have not looked at the "bound" forms, which are attached to the walls of plant cells and must be released by intestinal bacteria during digestion before they can be absorbed.

Phenolics, powerful antioxidants that work in multiple ways to prevent disease, are one major class of phytonutrients that have been widely studied. Included in this broad category are such compounds as quercetin, curcumin, ellagic acid, catechins, and many others that appear frequently in the health news.

When Dr. Liu and his colleagues measured the relative amounts of phenolics, and whether they were present in bound or free form, in common fruits and vegetables like apples, red grapes, broccoli and spinach, they found that phenolics in the "free" form averaged 76% of the total number of phenolics in these foods. In whole grains, however, "free" phenolics accounted for less than 1% of the total, while the remaining 99% were in "bound" form.

In his presentation, Dr. Liu explained that because researchers have examined whole grains with the same process used to measure antioxidants in vegetables and fruits—looking for their content of "free" phenolics"—the amount and activity of antioxidants in whole grains has been vastly underestimated.

Despite the differences in fruits', vegetables' and whole grains' content of "free" and "bound" phenolics, the total antioxidant activity in all three types of whole foods is similar, according to Dr. Liu's research. His team measured the antioxidant activity of various foods, assigning each a rating based on a formula (micromoles of vitamin C equivalent per gram). Broccoli and spinach measured 80 and 81, respectively; apple and banana measured 98 and 65; and of the whole grains tested, corn measured 181, whole wheat 77, oats 75, and brown rice 56.

Dr. Liu's findings may help explain why studies have shown that populations eating diets high in fiber-rich whole grains consistently have lower risk for colon cancer, yet short-term clinical trials that have focused on fiber alone in lowering colon cancer risk, often to the point of giving subjects isolated fiber supplements, yield inconsistent results. The explanation is most likely that these studies have not taken into account the interactive effects of all the nutrients in whole grains—not just their fiber, but also their many phytonutrients.

As far as whole grains are concerned, Dr. Liu believes that the key to their powerful cancer-fighting potential is precisely their wholeness. A grain of whole wheat consists of three parts—its endosperm (starch), bran and germ. When wheat—or any whole grain—is refined, its bran and germ are removed. Although these two parts make up only 15-17% of the grain's weight, they contain 83% of its phenolics. Dr. Liu says his recent findings on the antioxidant content of whole grains reinforce the message that a variety of foods should be eaten good health. "Different plant foods have different phytochemicals," he said. "These substances go to different organs, tissues and cells, where they perform different functions. What your body needs to ward off disease is this synergistic effect—this teamwork—that is produced by eating a wide variety of plant foods, including whole grains."

Lignans Protect against Heart Disease

One type of phytochemical especially abundant in whole grains including oats are plant lignans, which are converted by friendly flora in our intestines into mammalian lignans, including one called enterolactone that is thought to protect against breast and other hormone-dependent cancers as well as heart disease. In addition to whole grains, nuts, seeds and berries are rich sources of plant lignans, and vegetables, fruits, and beverages such as coffee, tea and wine also contain some. When blood levels of enterolactone were measured in over 800 postmenopausal women in a Danish study published in the Journal of Nutrition, women eating the most whole grains were found to have significantly higher blood levels of this protective lignan. Women who ate more cabbage and leafy vegetables also had higher enterolactone levels.

A Well-tolerated Wheat Alternative for Children and Adults with Celiac Disease

Although treatment of celiac disease has been thought to require lifelong avoidance of the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats, recent studies of adults have shown that oats, despite the small amount of gluten they contain, are well-tolerated. Now, a double blind, multi-center study involving 8 clinics treating 116 children newly diagnosed celiac disease suggests oats are a good grain choice for children with celiac disease as well. The children were randomly assigned to receive either the standard gluten-free diet (no wheat, barley, rye or oats) or a gluten-free diet with some wheat-free oat products. At the end of the study, which ran for a year, all the children were doing well, and in both groups, the mucosal lining of the small bowel (which is damaged by wheat gluten in celiac disease) had healed and the immune system (which is excessively reactive in celiac patients) had returned to normal.

Meta-analysis Explains Whole Grains' Health Benefits

In many studies, eating whole grains, such as oats, has been linked to protection against atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and premature death. A new study and accompanying editorial, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explains the likely reasons behind these findings and recommends at least 3 servings of whole grains should be eaten daily.

Whole grains are concentrated sources of fiber. In this meta-analysis of 7 studies including more than 150,000 persons, those whose diets provided the highest dietary fiber intake had a 29% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those with the lowest fiber intake.

But it's not just fiber's ability to serve as a bulking agent that is responsible for its beneficial effects as a component of whole grains. Wheat bran, for example, which constitutes 15% of most whole-grain wheat kernels but is virtually non-existent in refined wheat flour, is rich in minerals, antioxidants, lignans, and other phytonutrients—as well as in fiber.

In addition to the matrix of nutrients in their dietary fibers, the whole-grain arsenal includes a wide variety of additional nutrients and phytonutrients that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Compounds in whole grains that have cholesterol-lowering effects include polyunsaturated fatty acids, oligosaccharides, plant sterols and stanols, and saponins.

Whole grains are also important dietary sources of water-soluble, fat-soluble, and insoluble antioxidants. The long list of cereal antioxidants includes vitamin E, tocotrieonols, selenium, phenolic acids, and phytic acid. These multifunctional antioxidants come in immediate-release to slow-release forms and thus are available throughout the gastrointestinal tract over a long period after being consumed.

The high antioxidant capacity of wheat bran, for example, is 20-fold that of refined wheat flour (endosperm). Although the role of antioxidant supplements in protecting against cardiovascular disease has been questioned, prospective population studies consistently suggest that when consumed in whole foods, antioxidants are associated with significant protection against cardiovascular disease. Because free radical damage to cholesterol appears to contribute significantly to the development of atherosclerosis, the broad range of antioxidant activities from the phytonutrients abundant in whole-grains is thought to play a strong role in their cardio-protective effects.

Like soybeans, whole grains are good sources of phytoestrogens, plant compounds that may affect blood cholesterol levels, blood vessel elasticity, bone metabolism, and many other cellular metabolic processes.

Whole grains are rich sources of lignans that are converted by the human gut to enterolactone and enterodiole. In studies of Finnish men, blood levels of enterolactone have been found to have an inverse relation not just to cardiovascular-related death, but to all causes of death, which suggests that the plant lignans in whole grains may play an important role in their protective effects.

Lower insulin levels may also contribute to the protective effects of whole grains. In many persons, the risks of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity are linked to insulin resistance. Higher intakes of whole grains are associated with increased sensitivity to insulin in population studies and clinical trials. Why? Because whole grains improve insulin sensitivity by lowering the glycemic index of the diet while increasing its content of fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E.

The whole kernel of truth: as part of your healthy way of eating, whole grains can significantly lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Enjoy at least 3 servings a day. No idea how to cook whole grains? Just look at the "How to Enjoy" section in our profiles of the whole grains, or for quick, easy, delicious recipes, click on this link to our Recipe Assistant and select oats or whichever whole grain you would like to prepare.

Description

Oats, known scientifically as Avena sativa, are a hearty cereal grain able to withstand poor soil conditions in which other crops are unable to thrive. Their fortitude seems to be transferred to those who consume this nutrient-rich grain. After all, when we think of a satisfying and enriching way to start the day, one that gives us strength and lasting energy, we oftentimes relish the thought of a hot bowl of oatmeal.

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 their germ allowing them to retain a concentrated source of their fiber and nutrients. Different types of processing are then used to produce the various types of oat products, which are generally used to make breakfast cereals, baked goods and stuffings:

  • Oat groats: unflattened kernels that are good for using as a breakfast cereal or for stuffing
  • Steel-cut oats: featuring a dense and chewy texture, they are produced by running the grain through steel blades that thinly slices them.
  • Old-fashioned oats: have a flatter shape that is the result of their being steamed and then rolled.
  • Quick-cooking oats: processed like old-fashioned oats, except they are cut finely before rolling
  • Instant oatmeal: produced by partially cooking the grains and then rolling them very thin. Oftentimes, sugar, salt and other ingredients are added to make the finished product.
  • Oat bran: the outer layer of the grain that resides under the hull. While oat bran is found in rolled oats and steel-cut oats, it may also be purchased as a separate product that can be added to recipes or cooked to make a hot cereal.
  • Oat flour: used in baking, it is oftentimes combined with wheat or other gluten-containing flours when making leavened bread.

History

The modern oat draws its ancestry from the wild red oat, a plant originating in Asia. Oats have been cultivated for two thousand years in various regions throughout the world. Before being consumed as a food, oats were used for medicinal purposes, a use for which they are still honored. The growing of oats in Europe was widespread, and oats constituted an important commercial crop since they were a dietary staple for the people of many countries including Scotland, Great Britain, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. In the early 17th century, Scottish settlers brought oats to North America. Today, the largest commercial producers of oats include the Russian Federation, the United States, Germany, Poland and Finland.

How to Select and Store

Buy small quantities of oats at one time since this grain has a slightly higher fat content than other grains and will go rancid more quickly. Oats are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the oats are covered, free from debris, and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Smell the oats to make sure that they are fresh. Whether purchasing oats in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture.

If you purchase prepared oatmeal products such as oatmeal, look at the ingredients to ensure that the product does not contain any salt, sugar or other additives.

At WHFoods, we encourage the purchase of certified organically grown foods, and oats are no exception. Repeated research studies on organic foods as a group show that your likelihood of exposure to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals can be greatly reduced through the purchased of certified organic foods, including oats. You may possibly be able to find a local organic grower who sells oats that has not applied for formal organic certification either through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or through a state agency. (Examples of states offering state-certified organic foods include California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.) However, if you are shopping in a large supermarket, your most reliable source of organically grown oats is very likely to be oats that display the USDA organic logo.

Store oatmeal in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for approximately two months.

Tips for Preparing and Cooking

The Nutrient-Rich Way of Cooking Oats

Different types of oats require slightly different cooking methods for making hot cereal or porridge. For all types, it is best to add the oats to cold water and then cook at a simmer. The preparation of rolled oats and steel-cut oats require similar proportions using two parts water to one part oats. Rolled oats take approximately 15 minutes to cook while the steel-cut variety takes about 30 minutes. Due to their consistency, oat groats require more time and more water. Use three parts water to one part oat groats and simmer for approximately 50 minutes.

How to Enjoy

A Few Quick Serving Ideas
  • A great way to start your day—add your favorite nuts and fruits to a piping hot bowl of oatmeal.
  • Oatmeal cookies are a favorite for kids of all ages.
  • Add oat flour or whole oats the next time you make bread or muffins.
  • Sprinkle oat bran on your hot or cold cereal.
  • Oat groats make a great basis for stuffing for poultry.

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

If you'd like even more recipes and ways to prepare oats the Nutrient-Rich Way, you may want to explore The World's Healthiest Foods book.

Individual Concerns

Oats and the Gluten Grains

Oats are members of a non-scientifically established grain group traditionally called the "gluten grains." The idea of grouping certain grains together under the label "gluten grains" has come into question in recent years as technology has given food scientists a way to look more closely at the composition of grains. Some healthcare practitioners continue to group wheat, oats, barley and rye together under the heading of "gluten grains" and to ask for elimination of the entire group on a wheat-free diet. Other practitioners now treat wheat separately from these other grains, including oats, based on recent research. Wheat is unquestionably a more common source of food reactions than any of the other "gluten grains," including oats. Although you may initially want to eliminate oats from your meal planning if you are implementing a wheat-free diet, you will want to experiment at some point with re-introduction of this food. You may be able to take advantage of its diverse nutritional benefits without experiencing an adverse reaction. Individuals with wheat-related conditions like celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathies should consult with their healthcare practitioner before experimenting with any of the "gluten grains," including oats.

Nutritional Profile

Oats are an excellent source of manganese and molybdenum. They are also a very good source of phosphorus as well as a good source of copper, biotin, vitamin B1, magnesium, dietary fiber, chromium, zinc and protein.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more background information and details of our rating system.

Oats, unprocessed, dry
0.25 cup
39.00 grams
Calories: 152
GI: low
NutrientAmountDRI/DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
manganese1.92 mg9611.4excellent
molybdenum28.86 mcg647.6excellent
phosphorus203.97 mg293.5very good
copper0.24 mg273.2good
biotin7.80 mcg263.1good
vitamin B10.30 mg253.0good
magnesium69.03 mg172.0good
fiber4.13 g172.0good
chromium5.38 mcg151.8good
zinc1.55 mg141.7good
protein6.59 g131.6good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DRI/DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
very good DRI/DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
good DRI/DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, here is an in-depth nutritional profile for Oats. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Oats, unprocessed, dry
(Note: "--" indicates data unavailable)
0.25 cup
(39.00 g)
GI: low
BASIC MACRONUTRIENTS AND CALORIES
nutrientamountDRI/DV
(%)
Protein6.59 g13
Carbohydrates25.85 g11
Fat - total2.69 g--
Dietary Fiber4.13 g17
Calories151.718
MACRONUTRIENT AND CALORIE DETAIL
nutrientamountDRI/DV
(%)
Carbohydrate:
Starch-- g
Total Sugars-- g
Monosaccharides-- g
Fructose-- g
Glucose-- g
Galactose-- g
Disaccharides-- g
Lactose-- g
Maltose-- g
Sucrose-- g
Soluble Fiber1.65 g
Insoluble Fiber2.48 g
Other Carbohydrates-- g
Fat:
Monounsaturated Fat0.85 g
Polyunsaturated Fat0.99 g
Saturated Fat0.47 g
Trans Fat0.00 g
Calories from Fat24.22
Calories from Saturated Fat4.27
Calories from Trans Fat0.00
Cholesterol0.00 mg
Water3.21 g
MICRONUTRIENTS
nutrientamountDRI/DV
(%)
Vitamins
Water-Soluble Vitamins
B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B10.30 mg25
Vitamin B20.05 mg4
Vitamin B30.37 mg2
Vitamin B3 (Niacin Equivalents)1.90 mg
Vitamin B60.05 mg3
Vitamin B120.00 mcg0
Biotin7.80 mcg26
Choline6.63 mg2
Folate21.84 mcg5
Folate (DFE)21.84 mcg
Folate (food)21.84 mcg
Pantothenic Acid0.53 mg11
Vitamin C0.00 mg0
Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A (Retinoids and Carotenoids)
Vitamin A International Units (IU)0.00 IU
Vitamin A mcg Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE)0.00 mcg (RAE)0
Vitamin A mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)0.00 mcg (RE)
Retinol mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)0.00 mcg (RE)
Carotenoid mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)0.00 mcg (RE)
Alpha-Carotene0.00 mcg
Beta-Carotene0.00 mcg
Beta-Carotene Equivalents0.00 mcg
Cryptoxanthin0.00 mcg
Lutein and Zeaxanthin-- mcg
Lycopene-- mcg
Vitamin D
Vitamin D International Units (IU)0.00 IU0
Vitamin D mcg0.00 mcg
Vitamin E
Vitamin E mg Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents (ATE)-- mg (ATE)--
Vitamin E International Units (IU)-- IU
Vitamin E mg-- mg
Vitamin K-- mcg--
Minerals
nutrientamountDRI/DV
(%)
Boron-- mcg
Calcium21.06 mg2
Chloride49.14 mg
Chromium5.38 mcg15
Copper0.24 mg27
Fluoride-- mg--
Iodine2.47 mcg2
Iron1.84 mg10
Magnesium69.03 mg17
Manganese1.92 mg96
Molybdenum28.86 mcg64
Phosphorus203.97 mg29
Potassium167.31 mg5
Selenium-- mcg--
Sodium0.78 mg0
Zinc1.55 mg14
INDIVIDUAL FATTY ACIDS
nutrientamountDRI/DV
(%)
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.04 g2
Omega-6 Fatty Acids0.95 g
Monounsaturated Fats
14:1 Myristoleic0.00 g
15:1 Pentadecenoic0.00 g
16:1 Palmitol0.01 g
17:1 Heptadecenoic0.00 g
18:1 Oleic0.84 g
20:1 Eicosenoic0.00 g
22:1 Erucic0.00 g
24:1 Nervonic0.00 g
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
18:2 Linoleic0.95 g
18:2 Conjugated Linoleic (CLA)-- g
18:3 Linolenic0.04 g
18:4 Stearidonic0.00 g
20:3 Eicosatrienoic0.00 g
20:4 Arachidonic0.00 g
20:5 Eicosapentaenoic (EPA)0.00 g
22:5 Docosapentaenoic (DPA)0.00 g
22:6 Docosahexaenoic (DHA)0.00 g
Saturated Fatty Acids
4:0 Butyric-- g
6:0 Caproic-- g
8:0 Caprylic-- g
10:0 Capric-- g
12:0 Lauric0.01 g
14:0 Myristic0.01 g
15:0 Pentadecanoic-- g
16:0 Palmitic0.40 g
17:0 Margaric-- g
18:0 Stearic0.03 g
20:0 Arachidic-- g
22:0 Behenate-- g
24:0 Lignoceric-- g
INDIVIDUAL AMINO ACIDS
nutrientamountDRI/DV
(%)
Alanine0.34 g
Arginine0.46 g
Aspartic Acid0.56 g
Cysteine0.16 g
Glutamic Acid1.45 g
Glycine0.33 g
Histidine0.16 g
Isoleucine0.27 g
Leucine0.50 g
Lysine0.27 g
Methionine0.12 g
Phenylalanine0.35 g
Proline0.36 g
Serine0.29 g
Threonine0.22 g
Tryptophan0.09 g
Tyrosine0.22 g
Valine0.37 g
OTHER COMPONENTS
nutrientamountDRI/DV
(%)
Ash0.67 g
Organic Acids (Total)-- g
Acetic Acid-- g
Citric Acid-- g
Lactic Acid-- g
Malic Acid-- g
Taurine-- g
Sugar Alcohols (Total)-- g
Glycerol-- g
Inositol-- g
Mannitol-- g
Sorbitol-- g
Xylitol-- g
Artificial Sweeteners (Total)-- mg
Aspartame-- mg
Saccharin-- mg
Alcohol0.00 g
Caffeine0.00 mg

Note:

The nutrient profiles provided in this website are derived from The Food Processor, Version 10.12.0, ESHA Research, Salem, Oregon, USA. Among the 50,000+ food items in the master database and 163 nutritional components per item, specific nutrient values were frequently missing from any particular food item. We chose the designation "--" to represent those nutrients for which no value was included in this version of the database.

References

  • Anderson JW. Whole grains and coronary heart disease: the whole kernel of truth. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6):1459-60. 2004. PMID:15585755.
  • Bazzano LA, He J, Ogden LG, Loria CM, Whelton PK. Dietary fiber intake and reduced risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. Arch Intern Med. 2003 Sep 8;163(16):1897-904. 2003.
  • Cade JE, Burley VJ, Greenwood DC. Dietary fibre and risk of breast cancer in the UK Women's Cohort Study. Int J Epidemiol. 2007 Jan 24; [Epub ahead of print] . 2007. PMID:17251246.
  • Chen CY, Milbury PE, Kwak HK, Collins FW, Samuel P, Blumberg JB. Avenanthramides phenolic acids from oats are bioavailable and act synergistically with vitamin C to enhance hamster and human LDL resistance to oxidation. J Nutr. 2004 Jun;134(6):1459-66. 2004. PMID:15186945.
  • Cleland JG, Loh H, Windram J, et al. Threats, opportunities, and statins in the modern management of heart failure. Eur Heart J. 2006 Mar;27(6):641-3. 2006. PMID:16490737.
  • Corol DI, Ravel C, Raksegi M, et al. Effects of genotype and environment on the contents of betaine, choline, and trigonelline in cereal grains. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2012, 60, 21, pp 5471-5481.
  • Delaney B, Nicolosi RJ, Wilson TA et al. Beta-glucan fractions from barley and oats are similarly antiatherogenic in hypercholesterolemic Syrian golden hamsters. J Nutr; 2003 Feb 133(2):468-75. 2003.
  • Djoussé L, Gaziano JM. Breakfast cereals and risk of heart failure in the physicians' health study I. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Oct 22;167(19):2080-5. 2007. PMID:17954802.
  • Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California. 1983.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210.
  • Erkkila AT, Herrington DM, Mozaffarian D, Lichtenstein AH. Cereal fiber and whole-grain intake are associated with reduced progression of coronary-artery atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women with coronary artery disease. Am Heart J. 2005 Jul;150(1):94-101. 2005. PMID:16084154.
  • Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York. 1996.
  • Goldberg RJ, Ciampa J, Lessard D, et al. Long-term survival after heart failure: a contemporary population-based perspective. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Mar 12;167(5):490-6. 2007. PMID:17353497.
  • Hogberg L, Laurin P, Falth-Magnusson K, Grant C, Grodzinsky E, Jansson G, Ascher H, Browaldh L, Hammersjo JA, Lindberg E, Myrdal U, Stenhammar L. Oats to children with newly diagnosed coeliac disease: a randomised double blind study. Gut. 2004 May;53(5):649-654. 2004. PMID:15059781.
  • Jensen MK, Koh-Banerjee P, Hu FB, Franz M, Sampson L, Gronbaek M, Rimm EB. Intakes of whole grains, bran, and germ and the risk of coronary heart disease in men. Am J Clin Nutr 2004 Dec;80(6):1492-9. 2004. PMID:15585760.
  • Johnsen NF, Hausner H, Olsen A, Tetens I, Christensen J, Knudsen KE, Overvad K, Tjonneland A. Intake of whole grains and vegetables determines the plasma enterolactone concentration of Danish women. J Nutr. 2004 Oct;134(10):2691-7. 2004. PMID:15465768.
  • Liu L, Zubik L, Collins FW, Marko M, Meydani M. The antiatherogenic potential of oat phenolic compounds. Atherosclerosis. 2004 Jul;175(1):39-49. 2004. PMID:15186945.
  • Liu RH. New finding may be key to ending confusion over link between fiber, colon cancer. American Institute for Cancer Research Press Release, November 3, 2004. 2004.
  • Suzuki R, Rylander-Rudqvist T, Ye W, et al. Dietary fiber intake and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer defined by estrogen and progesterone receptor status--a prospective cohort study among Swedish women. Int J Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;122(2):403-12. 2008. PMID:17764112.
  • Tabak C, Wijga AH, de Meer G, Janssen NA, Brunekreef B, Smit HA. Diet and asthma in Dutch school children (ISAAC-2). Thorax. 2006 Dec;61(12):1048-53. Epub 2005 Oct 21. 2006. PMID:16244092.
  • Tsikitis VL, Albina JE, Reichner JS. Beta-glucan affects leukocyte navigation in a complex chemotactic gradient. Surgery. 2004 Aug;136(2):384-9. 2004. PMID:15300205.
  • van Dam RM, Hu FB, Rosenberg L, Krishnan S, Palmer JR. Dietary calcium and magnesium, major food sources, and risk of type 2 diabetes in U.S. Black women. Diabetes Care. 2006 Oct;29(10):2238-43. 2006. PMID:17003299.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988. PMID:15220.

Printer friendly version

Send this page to a friend...

rss


Newsletter SignUp

Your Email:

Find Out What Foods You Should Eat This Week

Also find out about the recipe, nutrient and hot topic of the week on our home page.

 

Everything you want to know about healthy eating and cooking from our new book.
2nd Edition
Order this Incredible 2nd Edition at the same low price of $39.95 and also get 2 FREE gifts valued at $51.95. Read more


Healthy Eating
Healthy Cooking
Nutrients from Food
Website Articles
Community
Privacy Policy and Visitor Agreement
References
For education only, consult a healthcare practitioner for any health problems.

We're Number 1
in the World!

35 million visitors per year.
The World's Healthiest Foods website is a leading source of information and expert on the Healthiest Way of Eating and Cooking. It's one of the most visited website on the internet when it comes to "Healthiest Foods" and "Healthiest Recipes" and comes up #1 on a Google search for these phrases.

Over 100 Quick &
Easy Recipes

Our Recipe Assistant will help you find the recipe that suits your personal needs. The majority of recipes we offer can be both prepared and cooked in 20 minutes or less from start to finish; a whole meal can be prepared in 30 minutes. A number of them can also be prepared ahead of time and enjoyed later.

World's Healthiest
Foods
is expanded

What's in our new book:
  • 180 more pages
  • Smart Menu
  • Nutrient-Rich Cooking
  • 300 New Recipes
  • New Nutrient Articles and Profiles
  • New Photos and Design
privacy policy and visitor agreement | who we are | site map | what's new
For education only, consult a healthcare practitioner for any health problems.
© 2001-2017 The George Mateljan Foundation, All Rights Reserved