When looking for the best way to start the day, many people will turn to their favorite overnight oats. This is because they offer a wide range of health benefits, keeps you fuller for longer, and aid in weight loss. However, some have been quick to point out that they contain phytic acid which prevents nutrient absorption.
With so many different opinions on the matter, we’ve done the research for you and have come up with the answer to the question, “are raw oats safe to eat?”
Table of Contents
What are Raw Oats?
Oats are whole grains that are easy to make, provide a well-balanced meal, and are also easily accessible while being cheap. Because humans aren’t able to digest whole oat kernels, the seed needs to be processed by removing the outer shell that’s inedible. This is especially true for steel cut oats and oat groats, which are inedible while they’re raw and will need a further steaming process for safe consumption.
Once they finish processing, the finalized products are rolled oats, instant oats, and quick oats, which all go through steaming, rolling, and drying. Oat flakes are a popular choice for breakfast and can be eaten both raw or cooked; usually boiled for oatmeal porridge, served as oatmeal smoothies, or used in baked goods.
The Problem with Raw Oats
Unfortunately, dry raw oats can be difficult to digest, and it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to eat dry oats in the first place. Due to the lack of water in a bowl of dry oats, they may cause constipation or indigestion; it’s best to soak or cook them first. Moreover, uncooked oats are known to have phytic acid, which blocks nutrient absorption by binding to minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.
Going through a soaking or cooking process will reduce the phytic acid levels of oats considerably.
Different Types Of Oats
Trying to understand all of the various types of oats in the market, along with which ones are safe for raw consumption can be hard to do; below is a list of the most common form of oats.
These kinds of oats will have the husk or outer hull attached to the inner oat groats, which are indigestible for humans. While eating them are unlikely to cause any harm, and will likely just pass through the digestive tract, completely raw oats are only used as animal feed.
These are whole grain oats in their purest form, but with their husks removed. While they are safe to eat, not a lot of people will find it appealing to eat whole oats raw. To enjoy these kinds of oats, it’s best to soak them for some time or to cook them before serving.
Steel Cut Oats
Also called Irish oats, many people enjoy making porridge using steel cut oats, which are uncooked at first. They go through minimal processing and are made by cutting groats into smaller pieces. As such, these whole-grain oats have high fiber content and are also low in the Glycemic Index (GI).
Soaking or cooking raw steel cut oats will make them easier to digest and can break down high phytic acid levels.
Stone Ground Oats
These are often called Scottish oatmeal and have many similarities to steel cut oats. These oats would be crushed into small pieces using stones. Just like with other oats, it’s best to soak and cook raw oats for effective mineral absorption.
Most oats eaten by the population are actually rolled oats which are technically classified as cooked, not raw. Unlike most of the other oatmeals in this list, rolled oats are steamed and flattened; the best-selling Quaker oats are recognized all over the world, and also refer to their products as old-fashioned oats.
Also known as quick oats, instant oats are just rolled oats that have been chopped up to make smaller pieces. As such, they can be digested easily and cooked quickly.
Health Benefits Of Oats
Oats are among the best choices you can have for breakfast and can be easily found in the grocery store. Here are just a few of the benefits you can reap from them.
Plenty of Fiber
Oats contain soluble and insoluble fibers, including a robust dose of the soluble fiber beta-glucan. This binds with water to create a gel that assists in slowing down digestion making it a great choice for those with a more sensitive digestive tract. This fiber has also been linked to lower cholesterol levels, while insoluble fibers promote healthy bacterial growth in the gut and also help to stabilize digestive problems.
Great Protein Source
When combined with chia seeds or fresh fruits, oats can make a complete and delicious meal for breakfast, which can deliver essential nutrients for the body to stay healthy.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Because of their high fiber content, oats can also promote lower blood pressure and can be highly beneficial for those with hypertension.
Improved Blood Sugar
Oats also have a low glycemic index rating, which means that they won’t cause an unexpected increase in blood sugar levels, making them an ideal choice for people with prediabetes or diabetes.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Soluble fibers found in oats can bind with cholesterol and effectively remove it from our bodies, helping to keep cholesterol levels down.
Full of Vitamins And Minerals
Eating oats is the healthiest way to get your dietary fiber, along with many vitamins and minerals. Many of these work well for gut health and can help with an upset stomach, and are also essential for our cell growth, energy production, and a strong immune system.
Eat Healthy with Raw Oats Today
A breakfast bowl full of clean oat groats or raw oatmeal is the best way to get complex carbohydrates into your body while increasing the nutritional value of meals. However, you can do so much with oats; you can bake cookies, make granola bars, or have them with a bit of maple syrup or brown sugar. No matter how you eat them, oats offer a healthy way to start your day and are a great addition to any kind of diet.
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