Posted in Food Safety on October 29, 2018
October is generally associated with Halloween, special treats and upcoming Thanksgiving season. But there is yet another day that makes this month special – National Oatmeal Day, which is annually observed on October 29th. Oatmeal is extremely healthy, tasty, and versatile. Given its multitude of uses, this simple breakfast dish is definitely worthy of its own day. Let’s look at some of the facts related to oatmeal which makes oatmeal one of America’s favorite breakfast foods.
#1 Oatmeal has been around as long as we have.
It is said that oats were eaten as a breakfast cereal by a plethora of people, thousands of years ago, before they were commercialized and popularized by major companies in US. The origins of oats for breakfast date back to as far as 420 BC. And even though we might speculate that it would have been the British to use it as porridge, several other regions were consuming it around that time, too. This includes parts of ancient China and Greece, both of which used the grain as porridge and cereal. There is still no account of who invented the dish itself, but we do know it has been eaten for centuries.
#2 We love oatmeal.
United States produces more oatmeal than any other country in the world. Surprisingly, 93% of the crop is actually used as animal feed. But still, over 40 million bushels are used for human consumption each year. Quaker Oats is one of the largest oatmeal producers, and the Quaker Oat Man is one of the oldest advertising mascots in America. The company registered him as a trademark for breakfast cereal in 1877.
There is even a city in the US named Oatmeal – located in Burnet County, Texas. While Iowa produces the most oatmeal, Vermont leads US in per capita consumption of cooked oatmeal cereal.
#3 Oatmeal is the ‘Perfect’ Natural Beauty Product.
One-half cup of oatmeal meets 25% of your daily biotin requirements. Biotin is an essential nutrient for your hair, skin, and nails. Oats can also be used externally on your skin as they have great anti-itching, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Oatmeal baths are soothing and rejuvenating and are recommended for relief from chicken pox and poison ivy. They can also be applied on face to soften and moisturize skin. In fact, many drugstore and high-end brands market their products with oatmeal as an included ingredient.
#4 They are heart-friendly.
Beta-Glucan is the type of fiber found in oats. It helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels and lowering cholesterol. Studies have found that eating around 3 grams of oat fiber per day (one-cup serving) can lower total cholesterol and LDL by 2-19 percent and 4-23 percent respectively. They are also good at fighting inflammation. Oats contain unique antioxidants called avenanthramides, which are not found in other fruits and vegetables. These antioxidants reduce inflammatory molecules that can contribute to heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Avenanthramides are also known to maintain healthy balance of bacterial levels in the gut.
#5 And Reduces Diabetes Risk, Too!
Type 2 diabetes is the result of poor insulin function. When insulin doesn’t reach the cells due to high amount of bad fat and refined sugar in the body, it causes insulin resistance. Whole grains have been linked to lowering the risk of diabetes often. Oats, being a whole grain, contain good levels of magnesium that helps in balancing blood sugar that will maintain the levels of insulin naturally. Oats are high in fiber which means that they are digested slowly and releases insulin slowly. This doesn’t cause sugar spike in the bloodstream.
#6 Oatmeal is a Whole-Grain.
Oats are processed so that the nutritious bran or germ do not get lost during the process, so you get the whole-grain goodness any way. There are so many different kinds of oatmeal available in the market like steel cut, instant oatmeal, etc. but all of them have the nutritious bran and germ. The only difference among these oats is how they are milled. In old-fashioned oats, the grain is flattened into a flake; in steel-cut oats, steel blades are used to thinly slice it and instant oatmeal is thinner, more finely chopped version of the old-fashioned oats. All of them are same nutritionally, although, steel-cut oats might have a bit more fiber.
#7 They fit into your diet & workout plan.
Oatmeal is one of the healthiest foods recommended by nutritionists worldwide. It is low in fat and high in protein and fiber. In a study published, a group of subjects had oatmeal for breakfast while other group had traditional breakfast cereal. Both the meals were equal in calories. The first group felt more satisfied, less hungry, and had fewer cravings even four hours after having breakfast. The study was published in Nutritional Journal, which ranked oatmeal as #1 among breakfast foods and #3 overall in ‘Satiety Index’.
Moreover, oatmeal can also boost the exercise performance. A UK study proved that eating oatmeal around three hours before your workout can help in enhancing your endurance.
There are other celebratory occasions related to oatmeal too – like January is National Oatmeal month and March 18th is Oatmeal Cookie Day.
How to observe Oatmeal Day?
This all-purpose grain can be used to prepare a variety of dishes. If you want to have it for breakfast just prepare some oatmeal porridge by cooking it in water, milk, and add your favorite sweeteners plus toppings after its done cooking. Overnight oats porridge has also gained increased popularity in the recent times. In this recipe, you don’t cook oats but rather keep it overnight in a jar that has oats, any liquid (water or milk) along with some additives like sugar, honey, cocoa powder etc. and toppings like bananas, strawberries etc. And voila! your porridge is ready the next morning. A quick on-the-go breakfast indeed.
Additionally, oats can also be added to pancake batter. Health enthusiasts have also created recipes where oats are used to prepare homemade bread. Apart from these breakfast options, oats can be used to make cookies, granola bars, muffins etc. Clearly, there are a number of options to mark this day. So, don’t hold back to have a Happy Oatmeal Day!
By: Pooja Sharma, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)