OATS A Unique Cereal
Oats are the unique grains that contain both soluble and insoluble fibre and vital nutritients. Oatmeal breakfast in the morning gives us energy and strength for the whole day, it is so because of high content of carbohydrates which provide calories for energy needs and also the concentration of well-balanced proteins.
Oats at first were not highly valued for human consumption and were looked down upon as a food for the lower classes who couldn’t afford wheat. It was so because they do not have gluten content, which makes them unsuitable for bread. With the passage of time people began to realise the value of oats and adopted the nutritious grain into their diets. Today oats are eaten by people of all classes across the world, commonly in the form of oatmeal.
It has the following health benefits
For heart: – After corn, oats have the highest lipid content in any cereal. Oats contain mixture of about half soluble and half insoluble fibres. One component of the soluble fibre found in oats is beta glucans, a soluble fibre which has been proven effective in lowering blood cholesterol. Beta glucans breaks down as it passes through the digestive tract, forming a gel that traps some substances related to cholesterol, such as cholesterol rich in bile acids. This entrapment reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the blood stream.
Even the outer cover of oats known as ‘Bran’ is believed to lower the level of bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Blood sugar: Oats help control blood glucose and insulin levels thus preventing us from many complications associated with diabetes. Beta glucan slows the rise in blood glucose levels following a meal and delays its decline to pre-meal levels.
Prevents cancers: Oats contain hundreds of phytochemicals. They are believed to reduce the risk of getting cancer. Many phyto-estrogen compounds present in oats, called lignans, have been linked to reduction in the risk of hormone-related diseases such as breast cancer. The insoluble fibres in oats are also believed to reduce carcinogens in the gastrointestinal tract.
Anti-bacterial: Oats contain essential vitamins such as thiamin, folic acid, biotin, Vitamin E etc. They also contain various minerals like zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium. According to a study it was discovered that beta glucan can enhance the ability of certain human immune cells to navigate to the site of a bacterial infection, resulting in faster healing.
Anti-depressant: Oats are natural anti-depressants. They help in treating depression, anxiety and nervous disorder. Unrefined oatmeal can be useful to reduce stress while cooked oatmeal relieves fatigue. A bowl of porridge with a spoonful of honey in the morning given to a child before going to examination relieves him of the examination tension.
Check on blood pressure: Daily intake of oats, which is rich in soluble fibre, helps reduce high blood pressure and reduce the need for anti-hypertensive medicines. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but can cause serious problems to heart and blood vessels leading to serious complications.
Bowel function: Owing to the presence of both soluble and insoluble fibre, oats help in maintaining regular bowel movement. Its insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and becomes spongy and absorbs many times its own weight of liquid. This gives relief from constipation.
Weight loss: It also helps in weight loss and helps prevent obesity in children. A bowl of oats gives the feeling of fullness and reduces the urge to eat more for a long time. This helps in reducing those extra pounds.
Other benefits of Oats
► Oatmeal bath helps heal eczema and other skin conditions.
► Oats are also used in cosmetics like facial cleansers, masques and creams to help prevent skin damage, enhance general skin health and to soothe irritation and inflammation.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna