Oatmeal is without a doubt one of the best, healthiest breakfast foods you can choose. First, oats are packed with soluble fiber and rich in a specific type of soluble fiber known as beta-glucan, which is known to slow digestion, fill you up quickly, and even help manage cholesterol and blood sugar.
But while oatmeal is a nutritious breakfast in itself, it also depends on how you prepare your oatmeal and what you use in it. “Oatmeal is an excellent, nutritious, high-fiber option for a meal or snack,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. “Unfortunately, we make decisions when preparing our oatmeal that can reduce its health value, often unconsciously.”
Read on to learn about some common ways people unknowingly make their oatmeal less healthy. For more tips for a healthy breakfast, check out Breakfast Habits That Make Your Brain Age Faster.
Adding too much sugar
Oats on their own don’t have much flavor, so it’s perfectly natural to add some sweetness to them. Adding fruit or other natural sugar sources is a great way to do this, but Best warns that adding too much processed or refined sugars can quickly make your oatmeal unhealthy.
“Adding some sweeteners, such as refined sugar, brown sugar, heavy cream, and syrups to oatmeal can make it more inflammatory than anti-inflammatory, but natural sweeteners can be used instead, including fresh or frozen fruit and honey,” says The Best .
Not choosing the best milk
Another thing to consider when preparing your oatmeal is whether you will be using milk and what kind you choose.
“It can be tempting to add high-fat milk or sweetened plant-based milk when preparing your oatmeal. Again, these ingredients can add to the calories, fat, and added sugar content of an otherwise healthy food,” says Best.
For example, many people will opt for oat or almond milk to liven up their oats, but it’s important to read the nutrition label to make sure your favorite brands don’t sneakily pack in the added sugars.
Oatly is a popular choice for oat milk, but just one serving already has 10 grams of added sugar and 10 grams of fat. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it, but it can be helpful to be aware of all the ingredients you’re adding to your oatmeal.
How do you make your oatmeal as healthy as possible?
If you want to make a delicious, healthy bowl of oatmeal, Best says, “A helpful rule of thumb is to stick with whole foods and natural sweeteners as ingredients, so using toppings like berries, walnuts, a drizzle of honey, and flaxseed can increase the nutrient density. of oatmeal instead of depleting it.”
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