Food & Drink

Oats | The Least Cool Super Food

By aj james
12th Feb 2014

Our grandparents grew up with porridge, and now we are too. But why? Here's an easy to understand 101 on oats and why they really make for one of the best breakfasts.

why are they so good for you?

We've been long and consistently told that 'porridge keeps us fuller for longer' and a bowl of the warming stuff is one of the best breakfasts around. But what is it about oats (ergo, the main ingredient in your porridge or oatmeal if in the U.S) that's so good? Why the longstanding hype?

Well, at the core, it comes down to fibre. They're simply a great source, and contain a nearly equal balance of both essential kinds (55 percent soluble and 45 percent insoluble). But, the soluble fibre, known as beta-glucan is the main reason for the high nutritional accolades.

Beta-glucan, is satiating, meaning your 'feelings of fullness' last longer, so too your need to eat soon after decreased. Interestingly, a study published by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, took two groups and gave them oat-based breakfasts, equal in calories. One, bowls of oatmeal (aka porridge), and the other ready to eat oat-based cereal. The researchers found the porridge eaters had greater feelings of fullness, decreased feelings of hunger and a lessened desire to eat. No doubt the other additives and sugars in the cereal came into play, but it was clear porridge came out on top.

Beta-glucan also helps lower cholesterol levels and significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. What's more, it enhances the body's immune system, by activating our white blood cells called marophages that attack foreign invaders (e.g funghi and bacteria). Oats also hold a very low glycemic load, so you'll digest them slowly, which ties back into feeling fuller for longer, and lessening the urge to snack between meals.

But with many types in the cereal aisle, which are the best to buy? It pays to keep it simple, and as close to their original form, or as our grandparents would have recognized. Step away from the instant sachets, particularly when flavoured. They take a little extra time, but if you can get them, try steel cut oats (also known as Irish or Scottish oats), or rolled ones. Just look to see that they haven't become too processed. You want them to look a little thick.

Where to get them

Our pick of the oats to buy? You can get your hands on these little oval wonders at West End's Organics at Marcia's, from Paddington's iconic Fundies, or, at $5 a kilo we can't go past stocking up on the organic onces at Mick's Nuts. But really, Uncle Toby's have been keeping our grandparents full for years, plus they've introduced some funky branded tins of late.

Where they serve them

When you think oats your mind might jump straight to porridge, but these little beauties are a breakfast staple in summer as well (at least for us, anyway!). We love the bircher from Sourced Grocer (it's like dessert for breakfast, in a good way), Campos (ideal for breakfast-to-go), and The Chelsea (who serve theirs with strawberry and grated apple).

This oat-y know-how comes care of pepper passport. A site "for the avid cook, discerning traveller, lover and sharer of good things, both at home, and while away" launching later this year.

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