Oatmeal all day

By Laura Schmidt

Have you heard? Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast anymore! Besides the steamy cup with a plethora of add-ins, oatmeal can be savory, used as a flour substitute, and can give a boost to your meat loaf. The health benefits of oatmeal make it a perfect addition to other foods to boost nutrition in baked goods and stuffing as well.

First a primer on the various kinds of oatmeal: Oatmeal is available in different varieties such as old-fashioned oats, oat groats, steel-cut oats, and oat bran. Some quick-cooking varieties include cooking oats and instant oatmeal. The different types of oat products are a result of the kind of processing they undergo, but all retain most of their fiber and nutrient content.

Some of the most prominent nutritional benefits of oatmeal can be summarized as the following:

1. Boosts Energy

Oatmeal is a carbohydrate and a protein-rich source that provides calories and energy. A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found consuming a low-glycemic meal, such as oatmeal, three hours prior to a run gives you better endurance than a high-glycemic meal. Foods such as oatmeal tend to cause a slow rise in glycemic levels, which is ideal for increasing fat-burning during exercise.

2. Supports Weight Loss

Oatmeal is an appetite suppressor that can be an integral part of any weight loss diet. Cholecystokinin, a hunger-fighting hormone, is increased with the oatmeal compound beta-glucan. A 2009 study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found satiety increased as a result of eating foods containing beta-glucan.

3. Prevents Diabetes

Oatmeal’s low-glycemic index is beneficial when it comes to reducing the risk of diabetes. This helps the stomach empty its contents slowly, which affects blood sugar levels and has a positive effect on our insulin sensitivity. A 2006 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a diet that produces a low-glycemic response is associated with less insulin resistance and a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes than a diet that produces a high-glycemic response.

4. Boosts Heart Health

Foods rich in whole oat sources of soluble fiber have been linked to good heart health. Oatmeal contains both calcium and potassium, which are known to reduce blood pressure numbers. A 1999 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found whole-grain consumption was associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease due to its soluble fiber.

5. Reduces risk of Colon Cancer

A high-fiber diet can be beneficial when it comes to reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. Its soluble fiber and insoluble fiber can help speed up the passage of food and waste, which prevents constipation. This is what promotes good colon health. A 2011 study published in the BMJ found total fiber intake, as well as fiber from whole grains and from cereals, was strongly associated with a reduction in colon cancer.

EatingWell Energy Bars

Serves 12

All you need:

1 cup Hy-Vee lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

1/4 cup Hy-Vee dried blueberries

6 Hy-Vee dried apricots, diced

3 tbsp Hy-Vee mini chocolate chips

5 tbsp brown rice syrup or light corn syrup

All you do:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch-square baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.

2. Combine peanuts, rice cereal, oats, pumpkin (or sunflower) seeds, blueberries, apricots and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Drizzle with syrup and gently stir until thoroughly combined. Spread in the prepared baking pan. Coat another piece of foil with cooking spray and place on the bar mixture, sprayed-side down. Place another pan on top and press firmly to compress the mixture. (Pressing before baking helps the bars hold together after baking.) Remove top pan and foil.

3. Bake until just beginning to turn golden at the edges, 20 to 24 minutes (metal pan) or 30 to 35 minutes (glass pan). Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

4. Carefully lift the baked square out of the pan by holding the edges of the foil and place on a cutting board, leaving the foil underneath. Cut in half and then cut each half crosswise into 6 bars. Let cool completely before lifting the bars off the foil.

Make Ahead Tip: Store airtight between sheets of wax paper for up to 1 week. Or individually wrap in plastic and freeze.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 167 calories, 9g fat, 2g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 30mg sodium, 19mg carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 9g sugars, 5g protein.

Daily values: 11% Iron.

Source: adapted from

EatingWell, Inc.

The information is not intended as medical advice.

Please consult a medical professional for individual

advice.

Laura Schmidt is a registered dietitian representing

Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community.

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