Health Benefits of Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are the inner kernels of whole oats that have been cut down into pin-head sized pieces. Because of this association with their size, they are also sometimes known as pinhead oats. In the United Kingdom (UK) they are also referred to as coarse oatmeal or Irish oatmeal. Steel cut oats may be processed further into oat flakes. 

As a result of their coarse texture, steel cut oats are chewy and have a slightly nutty flavor. They can be used in place of other types of oats in just about any recipe, or as a satisfying, fiber-rich breakfast option. 

Health Benefits

The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in steel cut oats can provide important health benefits. For example, the fiber in them helps to lower cholesterol and move food efficiently through the digestive tract. Fiber may also enhance immune function.

 

Steel cut oats are also rich in iron and B vitamins, both of which improve energy levels.

 

In addition, steel cut oats can provide other health benefits, such as:

 

Support Weight Loss

Steel cut oats contain β-glucan, a viscous, soluble fiber that slows the movement of food through the digestive tract and helps you feel fuller after eating. Foods that help people feel fuller longer may benefit people who are trying to lose weight and help them avoid overeating. Although all oats contain β-glucan, the larger particle size of steel cut oats may slow digestion even more than oat flakes, giving them a lower glycemic index than many other types of oats.

Control Diabetes

Steel cut oats are a low glycemic index food. Research shows that regular dietary intake of oats improves blood sugar levels and lipid profiles in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Incorporating oats into a healthy diet may also help people with Type 2 diabetes to lose weight. Both short- and long-term intake of oats has been shown to significantly reduce high blood sugar and support weight loss in people who have Type 2 diabetes.

Manage Cholesterol

The high levels of soluble fiber in steel cut oats can help to lower cholesterol. One study showed that eating 3 grams of soluble fiber from oats (about ¼ cup serving) every day lowers total cholesterol.

Celiac Safe

Because oats do not contain gluten, they are a safe alternative for people with celiac disease. For many, oats provide a welcome high-fiber option, since many gluten-free foods are low in fiber. Because there may be a risk of cross-contamination with wheat products, people with celiac disease should read product labels to make sure their oats are truly gluten-free.

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Nutrition

Steel cut oats are rich in protein and fiber, improving fullness and helping to provide the macronutrient building blocks of a healthy diet.

They are also an excellent source of:

Nutrients per Serving

A ¼ cup serving of steel cut oats (the amount typically found in a single serving) contains:

Portion Sizes

Steel cut oats are low in fat and high in protein, fiber, and other nutrients. They also have a low glycemic index. However, steel cut oats are a carbohydrate-rich food. People on low carbohydrate diets may wish to limit the amount of oats that they eat. Moderating your portions and keeping your servings to a quarter cup or less will help keep you from consuming too many calories. 

How to Prepare Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are often found in the breakfast aisle of many grocery and health food stores. They may also be available in the gluten-free aisle.

Steel cut oats are easy to use when you’re baking or cooking. In most cases, you can simply substitute rolled oats with steel cut oats in recipes, although soaking the steel cut oats for a few hours before baking will help soften them. 

Here are some ways to enjoy steel cut oats:

  • Substitute steel cut oats for breadcrumbs in meatloaf and meatball recipes.
  • Cook steel cut oats in water or milk for 30 minutes and top with almonds.
  • Blend steel cut oats with low-glycemic index fruits, such as berries, to make a thick, satisfying smoothie.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 18, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Journal of Physiology: “Oatmeal Particle Size Alters Glycemic Index But Not As a Function Of Gastric Emptying Rate.”

Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Oat Porridge Consumption Alleviates Markers of Inflammation And Oxidative Stress in Hypercholesterolemic Adults.”

Gastroenterology: “Safety of Adding Oats to a Gluten-Free Diet for Patients With Celiac Disease: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Clinical and Observational Studies.”

Michigan State University Extension: “Steel Cut Oats Are a Nutrient Rich Way to Start Your Day.”

Nutrients: “Short- and Long-Term Effects of Wholegrain Oat Intake on Weight Management and Glucolipid Metabolism in Overweight Type-2 Diabetics: A Randomized Control Trial.”

Nutrition Reviews: “Dietary Fiber and Satiety: The Effects of Oats on Satiety.”

Nutrition Reviews: “Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber.”

Nutrients: “The Metabolic Effects of Oats Intake in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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