After a long night fast, what better way to gain the strength and energy to carry you through a hectic day than with a steaming bowl of freshly cooked oatmeal? Oats make people feel satisfied and full, and it rated number one (#1) in the breakfast food group. It is a species of cereal grain grown for its seed, which is known by the same name.
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.
The power of oats to improve human health
Oatmeal and oat bran are significant sources of dietary fiber. This fiber contains a mixture of about half soluble and half insoluble fibers. One component of the soluble fibre found in oats is beta-glucans, a soluble fiber which has proven effective in lowering blood cholesterol.
Oats, like other grains and vegetables, contain hundreds of phytochemicals (plant chemicals). Many phytochemicals are thought to reduce a person’s risk of getting cancer. Phytoestrogen compounds, called lignans, in oats have been linked to decreased risk of hormone-related diseases such as breast cancer.
Most of the research has been focused on breast cancer, but similar effects are expected on other hormone-related cancers such as prostate, endometrium and ovarian cancer.
As the soluble fiber of oats is digested, it forms a gel, which causes the viscosity of the contents of the stomach and small intestine to be increased. The gel delays stomach emptying making you feel full longer which helps with weight loss.
It has been shown that oats alter metabolism and enhance performance if eaten about an hour before exercise.
Oats are also considered as a nerve tonic and an antidepressant, it also promotes the healing of wounds and cuts on the skin.
Last, like other cereal grains, are valued primarily as a source of carbohydrates which provide calories for energy needs. Oats have been shown in scientific studies to favorably alter metabolism and enhance performance when ingested 45 minutes to 1 hour before exercise of moderate intensity.
This is such an amazingly healthy grain that it’s hard to believe people used to think this was just a weed. Oats came back into fashion in the 80s when a health craze swept over the nation. Oats have the most soluble fibre of all grains with many health benefits.