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Types of Oats

Not all oats are created equal. Instant oats are heavily processed. They have less fiber, digest faster, and cause a quicker spike in blood sugar. Groats (whole oat kernels) and steel-cut or Irish oats are less processed, have more fiber, and take a longer time to digest.

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Boost Heart Health

A specific fiber in oats called beta-glucan can lower both your LDL (bad) cholesterol and your total cholesterol. LDL is known to cause clogs in your arteries and damage your heart tissues. Controlling your cholesterol cuts your odds of heart attack and stroke.

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Help With Weight Loss

Beta-glucan, the fiber in oats that helps your heart, also makes you feel full faster. It boosts a hormone that tells your brain you’ve had enough to eat. You’ll eat fewer calories overall when you start with filling up on oats.

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Keep You Regular

The outer layer of oats, oat bran, is full of fiber. Oat bran helps move your bowels. Studies in older adults show that eating oat bran daily can help get you moving if constipation is a problem.

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Provide Nutrients

A half cup of raw oats has around 150 calories and is packed with nutrients, including high amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, and vitamin B1 (thiamin). In that same cup you get 25 grams of carbs, 5 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fat, and 4 grams of fiber.

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Lower Blood Pressure

Oats have a group of antioxidants called avenanthramides. They bump up your body’s nitric oxide (NO) levels. NO helps your blood vessels open up so blood can flow more easily, lowering your blood pressure.

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Soothe Your Skin

Avenanthramides, the antioxidants in oats, can have a calming effect on your skin. They ease itchiness and inflammation. Products with finely ground oats (colloidal oatmeal) that you rub on your skin or add to your bath water may help with eczema symptoms.

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Keep Asthma at Bay

Studies show giving oatmeal to babies before they’re 6 months old may lower their odds of getting asthma later on. Chances of getting hay fever and skin allergies might also go down, too. 

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Control Your Blood Sugar

Beta-glucan fiber in oats can help keep your blood sugar steady. It does this by making you more sensitive to insulin. That’s good news if you have insulin resistance (when your body doesn’t respond to insulin like it should) or type 2 diabetes.

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Improve Gut Health

Oats are a prebiotic. That means probiotics (good bacteria in your gut) can feed on them and grow. This keeps your gut healthy. Add oatmeal into your daily diet to improve digestion.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 07/23/2020 Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on July 23, 2020

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Harvard School of Public Health: “Oats.”

Colorado State University Extension: “Nutrition News – What’s the deal with steel-cut oats?”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.”

Mayo Clinic: “High Cholesterol.”

Nutrition Research: “Increases in peptide Y-Y Levels following oat beta-glucan ingestion are dose-dependent in overweight adults.”

Journal of Nutrition Health & Aging: “The status of vitamins B6, B12, folate, and of homocysteine in geriatric home residents receiving laxatives or dietary fiber,” “Use of fiber instead of laxative treatment in a geriatric hospital to improve the wellbeing of seniors.”

USDA Food Data Central: “Oats, raw.”

Atherosclerosis: “Avenanthramide, a polyphenol from oats, inhibits vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and enhances nitric oxide production.”

Archives of Dermatological Research: “Avenanthramides, polyphenols from oats, exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-itch activity.”

Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: “Colloidal oatmeal formulations and the treatment of atopic dermatitis.”

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: “Timing of infant feeding in relation to childhood asthma and allergic diseases.”

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Insulin Resistance & Prediabetes.”

Molecular Nutrition and Food Research: “Modulation of the postprandial phase by beta-glucan in overweight subjects: effects on glucose and insulin kinetics.”

UMass Medical School Center for Applied Nutrition: “Prebiotics: what, where, and how to get them.”

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on July 23, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.