Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oats - Newest Trend in Town?

Traditionally used in some countries in Central Europe for nervousness or insomnia as a sleeping mattress, it might not be a total coincidence!

Oats are among the most nutrient rich grains for they have more fat, more proteins and more carbohydrates compared to wheat. They are very rich in phosphorus, iron, folate, magnesium and zinc.
Oats is considered to be in the category of carbohydrates such as breads, pasta, legumes, rice, wheat, etc. Now due to its particular structure, these complex carbohydrates in this grain are easily assimilated and absorbed slowly. For this reason, oats provide energy for several hours. Eating oats as whole grains is perfect. They contain soluble and insoluble fibers that enable this grain to:
- Add bulk in your diet so that you would feel fuller for longer
- Retain water, making oats a lubricant and softener of stools in the lower digestive
- Speed the passage of foods thus reducing the transient time of foods traveling in your intestines
- Help in reducing cholesterol levels since it absorbs and removes bile acids that are used to manufacture cholesterol. Yes, but know that they are not your medicine, so don’t fall for such super claims and expect your cholesterol to suddenly drop down when you have some oats. They are of benefit as much as you change your lifestyle to a healthy one and combine it with exercise.

Now what about oat proteins?
Proteins in oats consist of 16.9% and they are easily digested. They contain essential amino acids but not all of them in optimal portions. They are rich in an amino acid called methionine but poor in others called lysine and threonine. Now, don’t strain your head with these names, just know that legumes like chickpeas, lentils or beans are, on the other hand, are rich in methionine and poor in lysine and threonine. So eating oats with legumes make them such a complete meal!

Oats also contain fat in small amounts; mainly unsaturated ones such as omega 6. They also contain lecithin and avenasterol, a vegetable substance similar to cholesterol, that both interestingly interfere with the absorption of cholesterol and thus help in reducing its blood levels.

Last but not least, not that I am considering oats as therapy, but yes, oats can help the digestive tract, constipation and the cholesterol levels like we already mentioned. It also aids the nervous system to stabilize especially that it contains small amounts of non-toxic alkaloid avenine that has mild sedative effects on the nervous system. Moreover, oats are well tolerated by diabetic especially if they are eaten as whole flakes including the bran in moderate amounts.
Oats are becoming more popular in Lebanon especially as breakfast ingredient in “muesli” that comes in packs such as cornflakes containing oats in addition to almonds, other grains, raisins and hazelnuts. They can also be part of granola bars or they can be boiled and used instead of rice or wheat.
Either way, oats are new for us, they are getting trendier and the best thing is that they are as nutritious as can be!

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