When I think of a hearty healthy breakfast, a bowl of steaming hot oats is the first thing that comes to my mind. They are a soluble fibre rich carbohydrate that is higher in protein, vitamins and minerals and have been found to aid weight loss, stabilise blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. Oats are also gluten free (check for the certification), which make them a great choice for those with celiac disease or an intolerance. There are several types of oats available in the shops. Each type of oats differs in their nutrient profile due to the different processing methods they undergo when harvested.
To understand the difference between the three type of oats, it is important to note how these grains are farmed. All oats start out with hulls on the outside. Hulls are the tough outer shell that protects the seed of the oat plant. Here is a quick explanation of each type so that you can decide which one makes the most sense for your diet and lifestyle.
Steel Cut Oats
Steel cut oats are most closely related to the actual oat grain that is harvested and is the most ‘unprocessed.’ To make steel cut oats, the oats with their hulls are chopped into pieces with large steel blades. Therefore, they are the most coarse and chewy with a very nutty flavour. However, because they are the most coarse, they take longer to prepare with an average cooking time of 15-30 minutes. If you would like to reduce the cooking time, you can soak steel cut oats beforehand in water.
2. Rolled Oats
This second type of oats has gone through a steaming and flattening process, meaning that they have been partially cooked. The flavour is a lot milder than steel cut oats and the texture softer. Consequently, the cooking time is significantly reduced to only about 2-5 minutes preparation time.
3. Quick Oats
As the name suggests, the third type of oats are the quickest to prepare, within only a few minutes! These oats are also partially cooked as they too undergo a steaming process and are rolled even thinner than rolled oats. The flavour is quite mild and very soft in texture. You may find quick oats packaged on their own in shops. However, it is also not uncommon to find these types of oats packaged in individual sachets premixed with milk powder, sugar and other types of flavourings.
So, which one is the best?
Steel cut oats are the least processed of the three and they contain the most fibre as well as have the lowest glycemic index (meaning the body digests and absorbs them more slowly, leading to a slower rise in blood sugar levels). However, it is important not to discount rolled and quick oats. The most important thing is to choose an oatmeal that fits best with your lifestyle and your personal taste preferences in mind! However, no matter what type of oat you choose, its always best to choose plain, unsweetened oats!
Click on this link to find one of my favourite recipes, a quick breakfast option: OATS OH SO EASY!