Nutrition and DietOats: properties, benefits and contraindications. Is it suitable for celiacs?

Oats: properties, benefits and contraindications. Is it suitable for celiacs?

Properties of oats and most important nutritional benefits, a healthy cereal by containing important nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

The oatmeal is one of the most consumed cereal in the diet of many peoples for a long time, as much for their special nutritional qualities as energy, became the staple food of peoples and civilizations. For example, oat flakes are commonly used to make the exquisite porridge (also known as porridge), a true wonder full of health qualities.

For this reason, oats have been named as the “queen of cereals”, since their contribution in proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates and nutrients is much richer than other common cereals. For example, as we will see below, it also provides very interesting antioxidants for the diet, and takes care of our nutrition in a very positive way.

Among other aspects, it could be said that it has carbohydrates, minerals, and trace elements, proteins of high biological value, iron and phosphorus.

Although it was long excluded from the diet for people with celiac disease, the latest scientific studies, as well as different experts in this disease, have concluded that oats, especially in its pure version and in controlled quantities, become one of the most common foods valuable, being a nutritious and healthy food, with many qualities for health.

What is oatmeal?

The oat grain is obtained from a series of plants belonging to the Apiaceae family, the most widely cultivated and common being the Avena Sativa variety.

As we will see, it is one of the cereals with a high protein content, considered of good quality (high biological value), and its fats are tremendously healthy. That is to say, oats stand out for their rich contribution in proteins of great value.

Its incredible health benefits

Many experts recommend taking oat flakes for breakfast, since it provides nutrients and also gives the feeling of being “full” for a few hours, thus avoiding hunger attacks. This was confirmed by a trial carried out in 2015, in which it was shown that instant oatmeal provided greater satiety and reduced energy intake, compared to other options for breakfast.

Oatmeal is a recommended food in diabetes, since by maintaining more energy, blood glucose does not rise so sharply, helping to stabilize and reduce blood sugar levels.

In fact, combined with yogurt and blueberries, it can become a breakfast that is as nutritious for health as it is complete, thanks to the different qualities it offers to the body.  But it doesn’t have to be eaten just for breakfast. Did you know that in the snack it can also become an ideal food?

It also has softening power on the gastric mucosa, while maintaining the ability to  increase intestinal transit, thanks to the fact that it contains both insoluble and soluble fibers.

It is a natural diuretic, since it is useful in reducing the accumulation of fluid in the body, while reducing extra kilos, thanks to the fact that it acts as a metabolic regulator.

Consuming oatmeal regularly in a wide variety of recipes (such as oatmeal porridge with blueberries or banana, oat flakes with yogurt, oatmeal cookies or the typical bars) is a more than healthy recommendation during pregnancy, It helps the development of the fetus, while during lactation, it favors the production of breast milk while providing vitamins and minerals.

It protects the body against arteriosclerosis, heart attack and hypertension, since its linoleic acid and fiber prevent cholesterol from passing into the intestine. This was confirmed in this review of different studies published in 2013, which confirmed the different benefits of grains and oat flakes in reducing blood fats, and the different qualities it offers us.

In addition, according to recent studies, oats could help not only increase libido, but also fertility itself.

As demonstrated in this study, oatmeal is ideal for children, since a regular consumption of this food by the smallest of the house has been associated with a better intake of nutrients, the quality of their diet is much better and more complete, and present a lower risk of obesity (especially central obesity, considered the most dangerous).

Most important qualities, in summary

Although in the previous lines we have talked to you about the different benefits that oatmeal gives us, here is a summary of the most important aspects, which you should take into account if you want to consume it (or already take it):

  • Provides satiety: thanks to its high content of complex carbohydrates, also known as slow absorption. This means that oatmeal has an interesting satiating effect and is much longer, so in addition to helping to decrease appetite, it is useful to control blood sugar levels (it is, in fact, one of the most recommended cereals for diabetic people).
  • Prevents and relieves constipation: due above all to its high content of soluble fiber, so oatmeal is suitable –and recommended- in people with constipation, since it facilitates intestinal transit, even improving it.
  • Cholesterol in check: thanks to its richness in essential amino acids (especially  methionine), it is useful for people with high cholesterol levels in the blood, since it reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Also its contribution in unsaturated fats omega-6 helps to reduce this type of cholesterol and to increase the good one (HDL).
  • Cancer prevention: it contains lignans and phytoestrogens, two substances that are useful in reducing cancers related to hormones, such as breast cancer.
  • New tissue: thanks to the presence of good quality proteins, oats promote the production of new tissues in our body.
  • Healthy cardiovascular system: it is ideal for reducing the fat present in the arteries, which translates into heart-healthy qualities for both the heart and the arteries.

Nutritional values ​​of this cereal

Do you know what nutrients and other nutritional contributions the wonderful oatmeal has? Take note:

  • Oat has important vitamins and minerals, among which are: vitamin B1, B2 and  vitamin E.
  • It also has minerals: magnesium, zinc, calcium and iron.
  • It contains a large amount of carbohydrates and amino acids (specifically, six of the eight essential amino acids).
  • We cannot forget beta-glucan at this point, a component that absorbs both fat and bile acids from the intestine, helping to eliminate them naturally.

Nutritional qualities

  • Rich in vitamins: it is a cereal that is especially rich in vitamin E and B vitamins (mainly in vitamin B1, B5 and B6).
  • High mineral content: its potassium, magnesium, calcium and zinc content stands out.
  • Rich in complex carbohydrates: 60 grams of oats provide 40 grams of slow-absorbing carbohydrates, easy to digest and that provide satiety to the body.
  • Interesting content in essential amino acids: such as leucine, isoleucine, threonine and methionine.

Contraindications and side effects

At the moment there is no evidence or contraindications for the consumption of oats have been described, as long as it is consumed in the appropriate and recommended doses.

However, in high amounts, people with celiac disease can present symptoms similar to those generated by the consumption of gluten, but not precisely because oats contain it.

In people who have allergies to cereals, or particularly to the oat plant, they may suffer certain allergic reactions.

In addition, excessive consumption of oats can cause:

  • Stomach and abdominal discomfort.
  • Gas and flatulence.
  • Headache.

However, if you do not have any type of contraindication and you want to introduce oats in your daily nutrition, remember that there are simple options to enjoy its qualities. Our favorite? The bowl of baked oatmeal with banana, hands down. And if you dare, another delicious option is to add a little unsweetened cocoa powder on top of the banana pieces.  You’ll love it. Its contribution in potassium will be ideal for the first hours of the morning.

But if you do not have much time and you want to have a quick breakfast, although it is not the most suitable, you can prepare a natural yogurt, add a few grains of oatmeal on top, and accompany with peach or blueberry jam.

Is it suitable for people with celiac disease?

It is true that many people have doubts about whether people with celiac disease can safely consume oats. In fact, it has always been considered that oats contained gluten, so that it was completely eliminated from the diet of the celiac person.

Thus, in 2009 the European Union included oats as a gluten-free food, but it has certain peculiarities that make its consumption not as safe as any other gluten- free food (such as fruits or vegetables).

However, in most cases when a person is diagnosed with celiac disease there is still outdated information, since one of the main advice given is that you cannot take the 4 cereals that contain gluten (such as wheat, oats, rye and barley). But the reality is quite different.

Why? Mainly because while the other cereals with gluten have prolamines (vegetable proteins with a high content of proline, which we find in some cereals such as wheat, and which can be very toxic for celiacs) around 30-50%, oats alone reaches 15% prolamines. Moreover, it is estimated that the consumption of oats could only negatively affect 1% of celiacs.

Therefore, the recommendation that many nutritionists give today is to avoid the consumption of oats at the beginning after the diagnosis of celiac disease, and proceed to its introduction later, little by little.

 

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