Oats are often praised as one of the healthiest breakfast options in the province – but many people also don’t know how oats are made and how they differ from other cereals, including wheat.
The left wing wonders: Gluten-free oats? – Some people decide to leave them all together without knowing the whole story.
What’s the verdict on the oats? Are they healthy or, like refined carbohydrates, can they cause gluten sensitivity, digestive disorders and other problems?
On the following pages we look at whether different types of oats contain gluten and what the pros and cons are of including them in your diet.
What is oats?
Oat, which comes from a plant scientifically named Avena sativa, is a common type of whole grain grain grown for seed production.
Can we eat oatmeal as part of a gluten-free diet? In some cases, yes.
Even if you think it’s time to give up gluten – and with it products like bread, pasta, most grains, etc. – it’s time to give up gluten. – Fortunately, it is also not necessary to ban all types of oats.
Oats versus Wheat
Wheat, barley and rye grains are three groups of whole grains which naturally contain protein gluten. Instead of gluten, oats contain a protein called avenine.
Although oats themselves do not contain gluten, they are often grown on the same land and in rotation with cereals containing gluten (wheat, barley, rye). Gluten pellets can grow in oat crops if they were planted in the field the year before, in which case the oats are contaminated with gluten.
Although oats are considered unprocessed wholegrain cereals and have a number of health benefits not normally found in wheat, even wholegrain cereals in moderate quantities are recommended. Although they provide important nutrients and are actually gluten-free, cereals can cause digestive problems when consumed in large quantities and contribute to weight gain and blood sugar imbalance.
Oats have been consumed for thousands of years. In addition to supplying a growing population with important nutrients, they have historically played an important role in feeding livestock.
Experience shows that wild oats appeared centuries ago in the fertile crescent of the Middle East, although these grains were only domesticated in Europe during the Bronze Age. For many years, oats have also been used for therapeutic purposes, including the alignment of the female menstrual cycle, as a natural remedy against osteoporosis and as a household remedy against urinary tract infections.
Oats are used in many different ways all over the world and are not just the basis of a simple breakfast. Oat bread, for example, has been an important foodstuff for many crops living in Europe for hundreds of years, especially for the British, Irish and Scottish population.
They are also used in a variety of bakery products around the world, including oat biscuits, oat biscuits and oat bread.
Gluten-free oats? (for safety)
According to the Celiac Center of the University of Chicago, oats are technically gluten-free because they are not part of wheat, barley or rye.
Can celiac disease eat oatmeal?
Certified gluten-free oats are considered safe for most people with a gluten allergy, also known as celiac disease.
Moreover, for most people they are easier to digest and less sensitive to side effects than some other grains. They are therefore generally tolerated by people with symptoms of gluten intolerance, provided that the person carefully monitors the way in which oats are produced and processed.
Reports indicate that perhaps less than 1% of celiac patients respond to large amounts of oats in their diet.
How do you know that oats are gluten-free?
If a person with a known allergy or sensitivity to gluten wants to buy and consume gluten-free oat flakes, he/she must ensure that these are purchased from a supplier who guarantees that the wheat, rye or barley flour will not be cross-contaminated. These types of gluten-free oats are called certified gluten-free.
Don’t forget that the organic label says nothing about the gluten content. When you buy organic oats, make sure that they are also certified gluten-free.
What are the brands of gluten-free oats?
You’ll learn how to make sure you’re gluten-free:
- Most types of oats available in supermarkets (including Quakers), even organic oats, or sold in the wholesale baskets of health food stores are probably not 100% gluten-free, unless they are labelled as such. What for? They often contaminate food with gluten for various reasons.
- Very often oats are processed in the same plants that produce wheat products. It is therefore always possible that oats are contaminated with gluten during the packaging process. After the oats have been collected and delivered to the production company for cleaning and packaging, the gluten can be mixed. In this way, small pieces of wheat, barley or rye can be packed with other cereals. Even if this is not the case, oats and gluten are likely to be processed on the same equipment, creating another possibility of contamination.
- Gluten-free oats are guaranteed to be grown on fields that are not used for gluten-free cultivation, transported in gluten-free trucks and processed on gluten-free equipment.
- Quality controls by third parties also ensure that the crops are not contaminated with wheat, rye, barley and other related cereals – and that the gluten-free product is one of them. This is the only way to be absolutely sure that the oats do not contain traces of gluten.
How is gluten-free oat flour labelled in different countries? Is oats normally gluten-free in Australia and Europe?
According to the website of Celiac Australia:
The Australian Food Standards Code prohibits the use of gluten-free claims on products containing oats. Australian food standards differ from those in Europe and the United States, where oats can be sold gluten-free. Specifically, this gluten-free oat is what Australia calls wheat-free.
It is not for nothing that oatmeal is one of the most popular wholemeal recipes in the world. Oat grains are a good source of fibre, trace elements and even vegetable protein.
Regular consumption of gluten-free oatmeal is a good way to obtain B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium. That’s why the American Heart Association considers oatmeal to be a certified healthy food for the heart.
Like all whole grains, oatmeal even contains a number of useful fatty acids, because the whole grain germ, endosperm and bran remain intact. Not only nutrients are stored there, but also small amounts of essential fats.
About half a cup (about 40 grams) of oats regularly dried or rolled directly (about a cup of boiled oats) :
- 154 calories
- 28 grams of carbohydrates
- 5-6 grams of protein
- 1 to 2 grams of fat
- 4-5 grams of fibre
- 5 milligrams of manganese (73% of DV)
- 166 milligrams phosphorus (16%)
- 7 milligram selenium (16%)
- 56 milligram magnesium (14%)
- 0.19 milligram thiamine (12%)
- 7 milligram iron (10%)
- 5 milligram zinc (10%)
- 0.16 milligram copper (8%)
- 0.45 milligram pantothenic acid/vitamin B5 (5%)
1. Helping to lower cholesterol levels
Oat flour contains soluble fibres, particularly beta-glucans, which, if consumed several times a week or more, can naturally help lower cholesterol levels.
B-glucan is a soluble dietary fiber found in the cell walls of oat-endosperm and is known for its cholesterol-lowering and insulin-regulating properties. Because oats contain more soluble fiber than many other cereals, it is one of the most recommended cereals for lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, total cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
According to the FDA, a high-fibre diet (only three grams of soluble whole grain fibre per day) can reduce the risk of heart disease. Studies show that people who eat whole grains, such as oats, and eat a lot of fibre from whole grains, are more likely to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system in addition to a healthier body weight.
One of the reasons for this is that they not only contain fibres, but also important and healthy microelements and phenolic compounds, which are associated with reduced inflammation, reduced hypertension and disease prevention. The fibres we extract from these grains swell in the digestive tract, absorb water and carry away waste products and excess cholesterol.
2. Taking care of the fibre filling
Whole grains contain more fibre to fill the stomach and more vitamins and minerals than processed and refined grains or carbohydrates.
The soluble fibre is found in the outer shell, which is called bran. Oats contain about 55% soluble fibres and 45% insoluble fibres.
The fiber is more than a regulator. Products with a high fibre content also take up a lot of space in the stomach when absorbing water. They help you feel satisfied despite the low calorie content.
Can oats make you fat or is it good for weight loss? Oat flour can help maintain weight loss with its high fibre content, giving you a feeling of fullness and satisfaction and making you less prone to addictions.
Some studies have shown that the consumption of oatmeal in the short and long term has a significant influence on the control of hyperglycemia, the reduction of lipids in the blood and weight loss.
However, it is interesting to note that if you regularly eat oatmeal for breakfast, you need to make sure you add protein and fat to stay full for longer.
Although oats may seem thick and full, it probably won’t make you feel as full as a higher protein breakfast. For example, a 2017 study showed that, compared to a breakfast consisting of two eggs per day, biomarkers associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy adults did not have a negative effect, but increased satiety during the day.
3. Help improve digestion
Fibres can help you maintain regular bowel movements. Because we cannot digest the dietary fibres of whole foods, they pass through our digestive tract and carry toxins and waste products with them.
This is one of the reasons why many studies show that a higher fibre diet can improve intestinal health, relieve constipation and reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. To get the most out of eating whole grains, you should also increase your water intake so that the fibre can do its job as well as possible.
4. Strengthening the immune system
Beta-glucans, natural polysaccharides found in oats and other protective products such as fungi are known to improve immune function by combating bacterial infections and reducing inflammation.
They do this by activating certain immune responses, particularly white blood cells, the so-called macrophages, which fight fungi, bacteria and toxins.
In fact, the consumption of food rich in beta-glucans is even linked to the ability to fight cancer cells naturally. Beta-glucans have been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties and have the potential to reduce the growth of cancer.
5. Have a low glycemic score compared to refined grains.
Oats or steel coils (unsweetened and unsweetened) have a low glycemic index value, especially when compared to enriched or refined carbohydrates. This means that they can prevent eruptions and waste of energy, as has been shown in human and animal studies.
Oat flakes ensure a slow release of carbohydrates that inhibit blood sugar levels and keep the energy stable. Whole grains can also improve insulin sensitivity.
This is one of the reasons why they are associated with lower rates of diabetes and other chronic diseases.
A study conducted in 2018 showed that a two-day oatmeal intervention in patients with type 2 diabetes resulted in a very significant reduction in daily insulin requirements while maintaining adequate metabolic control, compared to a diet suitable only for diabetic patients.
6. Supply of trace elements such as margarine and phosphorus.
Half a glass of oat flakes covers about 73% of the daily manganese requirement and 16% of the daily phosphorus requirement.
Manganese is important for maintaining a healthy bone structure because it plays a role in the formation of enzymes needed for bone formation. It also supports the metabolism, energy balance, brain and hormone balance.
Phosphorus is another important nutrient for bone health, in addition to protecting teeth and gums. Phosphorus-rich foods can promote healthy growth and development, while phosphorus-rich foods regulate the digestion of nutrients and support the functions of the skeleton/bone, kidneys, muscles, heart and nerves.
Oatmeal is also a good source of selenium, magnesium, iron, copper and B vitamins. Foods containing these nutrients prevent deficiency symptoms that can lead to delayed metabolism, anaemia, lack of energy, brain fog, mood swings, pain or discomfort.
7. Higher source of protein than most cereals
Whole grains are a good source of vegetable protein, with more than 8 grams per 2/3 cup of oatmeal – more than in almost any other grain. With fruit, raw milk or yoghurt, it is possible to prepare a complete breakfast that provides antioxidants and nutrients.
When it comes to buying oats, you have already learned to look for varieties that are certified gluten-free to prevent gluten contamination.
Caution is also required for steel cut, rolled or old-fashioned oats, which are produced without the addition of sweeteners or flavourings.
Check the ingredient labels carefully to make sure they do not contain any flavourings, preservatives or chemical sweeteners. The sugar content of pure oats must always be zero.
Are you ashamed of all the oatmeal you find in grocery stores?
Whatever you buy, all kinds start with oats. They are then processed in different ways, resulting in a variety of textures, applications and digestive effects.
The different varieties have approximately the same distribution of nutrients and health benefits, although oats are absorbed faster and can cause a faster rise in blood sugar levels than rolled oats or steel oats. Ideally you should buy steel or oatmeal.
Although they take a little longer to cook, they are also more versatile in terms of cooking and recipes because they are less processed and retain their texture.
Here is an overview of the different types of oats:
- Steel oat disc – when the oats are divided into pieces. They have a nutty flavour and are also called Irish or Scottish oats. They have less effect on blood sugar levels than processed oats. Is steel oatmeal gluten-free? The same rule applies to steel-cut oats as to normal oats. You must be gluten-free, but make sure you buy certified gluten-free oats if you are sensitive.
- Rolled oats – When the grain is steamed to soften it, it is pressed between the rollers and dried. They tend to cook faster than steel-cut oatmeal because they absorb water quickly while having a low glycemic index.
- The old term is the same as oatmeal, but under a different name.
- Immediately or quickly – if the groats are pressed finer than oats and steamed for longer so that they can be cooked more quickly. They are cut into small pieces, which sometimes gives them a powdery appearance. They’re usually pre-spiced and sweet, so make sure they’re simple.
- Oat Flakes – When oat flakes are steamed, rolled, pressed and very finely ground into a homogeneous powder/flower. It can raise blood sugar levels faster.
- Oat bran – Oat bran consists of an outer husk of seed. It has a very high fibre content and is generally consumed in small quantities. Gluten-free oat bran? Yes, like other types of oatmeal, oat bran is gluten-free. However, as with other types of oats, there is a fear that oat bran may be contaminated with wheat, rye or barley during the production process.
Oats can be cooked in different ways, but the most popular is baking. If you don’t have much time, you can also prepare oat flakes at night or cook them in a pan in no time.
To make oats on the stove, boil a cup of water (or milk of your choice, such as raw almond, coconut or goat milk) and then add half a cup of old oat bread. Reduce the fever to moderate levels and adjust them from time to time for about five to seven minutes or until they soften and absorb most of the water.
Looking for other ways to cook oats? Soak them in water for one night, then rinse them and heat them well for a minute or two.
You can also use oat flakes in the muesli for baking or instead of breadcrumbs. Don’t forget that oatmeal doesn’t have to be cooked at all.
They are made edible by steaming and rolling (which happens before they are sold to customers) and soaking. Muesli, for example, is made from uncooked oatmeal.
Recipes for oatmeal:
Now that everything from oatmeal to lactose-free oatmeal is available in many grocery stores, there are many ways to include oatmeal in your diet. And don’t think oats are just for breakfast – you’d be surprised how many people enjoy spicy oats or low-sugar oat desserts.
Here are some ways to start including gluten-free oatmeal more often in your diet:
Risks and side effects
Even if someone does not react negatively to gluten-free granules, he may still experience some symptoms of gluten-free granules.
What are the possible side effects of oats? These can be gastrointestinal conditions such as flatulence, convulsions or diarrhoea.
This may be due to the high fibre content of these grains. This is probably a problem for people who are not used to eating high-fibre foods.
After a while, they should disappear.
Soaking cereal at night and drinking lots of water can also help eliminate digestive problems. Like any whole grain cereal, soaking oats reduces the amount of antinutrients and enzymes that can interfere with nutrient uptake and digestion.
- Gluten-free oats? Oats are gluten-free, but there is no guarantee that most varieties available in supermarkets are gluten-free. If you are allergic or sensitive to gluten, you should therefore be careful when searching for products labelled or certified as gluten-free.
- Cut steel, oatmeal and fast or slow boiling oats can be gluten-free when labelled. Organic printing does not mean that they are gluten-free, but simply that they are gluten-free.
- How is the oats cooked? It’s getting a little complicated here. Oats sold on a commercial basis can sometimes become contaminated with gluten when mixed with grains such as wheat, barley and rye during cultivation or production. They may contain traces of gluten if they are not certified gluten free.
- The health benefits of gluten-free oatmeal include fibre, lower cholesterol, better digestion, less hunger, micronutrients and some vegetable proteins.