When we go into a supermarket today, there are many varieties of Oats available. Everything from Oat Groats to rolled oats and steel cut oats. Here’s some informations about them so you know what you’re getting the next time you are in a supermarket.
What is the Nutritional Benefits of Eating Oats?
Oats provide us many health benefits and are a staple food in many parts of europe. There are quite a few nutritional benefits of eating oats on a regular basis but a few to mention are:
Reduces Cholesterol levels – Studies have shown that a certain type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan in oats helps reduce cholesterol in patients.
Stabilizes Blood Sugar and lowers risk of type 2 Diabetes- B’se of the fiber, it slows down the breakdown of carbs hence reduces spikes in blood sugar
Reduced risk of Cancer – Oats are a good source of Selenium and this mineral is involved in DNA repair hence reduces risk of various types of cancer especially colon Cancer.
Most Common Types of Oats:
Whole Oats : These are unhulled and the external hull needs to be removed before being used for consumption.
Oat Groats : These are the whole groats that you get after removing their inedible husks. You can usually buy them in most health food stores. They take really long to cook ( almost 50-60 minutes) Most Raw Foodists buy oats in this form and then process them at home to make flours etc
Steel Cut Oats : These are just Oat Groats that have been cut into smaller pieces by a metal cutter. This is done to reduce the cooking time as the surface area increases. These are sometimes also called Irish Oats
Scottish Rolled Oats : These are similar to the steel cut oats but the process of cutting/breaking of the oats happens through a stone grinder. This is usually a little more creamier than steel cut oats as it is smaller in size than steel cut oats and requires a shorter cooking time as well. (Approx. 10 minutes)
Regular Rolled Oats – These are oat groats that have been first been steamed and then rolled into flakes in between rollers. There are 2 varieties you get in this type. One is known as Jumbo/Old-fashioned and the flakes are made directly from Oat Groats. Second Variety is usually called Quick Oats where flakes are made from Steel cut oats instead of Oat groats so they are smaller in size and take even shorter to cook.
Instant Oats – Here the oats have been heated longer and rolled thinner hence they are usually able to be cooked in just 1 minute (i.e. pour hot water, mix and eat)
Oat Flour – This is usually made by grinding and sieving the Oats. You can usually buy different types of oat flour based on the texture i.e coarse, medium or fine.
Now that we’ve looked at the various types of oats that you can get in a supermarket, lets look at whether oats are Raw?
In Wikipedia, it is mentioned that after dehulling the oats, they go through a heat and moisture treatment process to stabilize them since they can easily become rancid ( in about 4 days after being unhulled) due to the their high fat content in them. So, even simple oat groats are not raw.
However, there is a variety of Oats called “Naked Oats” or “Nebraska Oats” which are a variety that are hulless. To learn more about how they came about, read the article on Weston A. Price’s Website. In there they mention:
“Naked oats, so called because the kernels thresh free of the hulls, have been grown for centuries by farmers who enjoy the advantages of an oat variety that can be fed to young stock and poultry without being milled or ground, as hulled oats must be, and can also be easily used as porridge or other food for humans.
The nutrition profile of naked oats is quite impressive, with contributions rich in minerals and vitamins and a fat content rivaling that of corn, along with high-quality protein similar to that found in soybeans. This is especially fortunate for farmers living in areas where both corn and soybeans have not been traditionally suited for growing, or for homesteaders who prefer not to grow them at all. Naked oats also supply unsaturated fatty acids that contribute to the production of higher quality eggs, milk and meat products.”
So if you absolutely want to use Raw oats, make sure the variety you buy is called “ Naked Oats” (avena nuda instead of the common variety avena sativa). If you buy this variety, the chances of their steel cut oats or the oat groats being raw is higher.
On 321natural.com, they have documented some of the sources where you can buy truly raw oats from. You can go through it to see if you can find any of these brands in your supermarkets.
Finally, another thing you can do is to call up the manufacturer and make sure their oats are truly raw. It will be a one time thing but will let you know their product and help you make a conscious choice when buying them.
Are Oats safe for consumption by Gluten Intolerant people?
Oats don’t contain gluten like other grains such as wheat, rye, and barley hence it is quite safe for consumption by gluten intolerant patients. However, it is important to be sure that you are buying pure oat especially when you buy it in any of the forms other than hulled and Unhulled. Many times, during farming as well as in the processing plants, oats share the same space or area that other gluten related grains as well and chances of contamination is high. When picking Rolled, steel cut, instant oats or oat flour, make sure the packaging says its gluten-free to be on the safe side.
Another thing to be cautious about is: About 10-15% of gluten intolerant people also have an intolerance to a protein in Oats called Avenin. So they should also slowly experiment with it and if they see any adverse effects, should stop using oats in their meals.