The oat (Avena sativa) is a member of the grass family of plants sometimes called the "common oat".Oats are suitable for human consumption as oatmeal and rolled oats. Oats are a nutrient rich food associated with lower blood cholesterol when consumed regularly
Oatmeal is made of hulled oat grains - groats - that have been either milled (ground), steel-cut, or rolled. Ground oats are also called "white oats". Steel-cut oats are known as "coarse oatmeal" or "Irish oatmeal" or "pinhead oats". Rolled oats can be either thin or thick and may be called "old fashioned", "quick" or "instant".
The oat grains are dehusked by impact, then heated and cooled to stabilized the oat groats - the seed inside the husk. The process of heating produces a nutty flavor in the oats, These oat groats may be milled to produce fine, medium, or coarse oatmeal. Steel-cut oats may be small and contain broken groats from the dehusking process (these bits may be steamed and flattened to produce smaller rolled oats.) Both types of rolled oats may be eaten uncooked as in muesli, or may be cooked with water to make porridge. Rolled oats are steamed and flattened whole oat groats. Old fashioned oats can be thick and take a while to boil into a porridge. Quick-cooking rolled oats are cut into smaller pieces before being steamed and rolled. Instant oatmeal is precooked and dried often with a sweetener such as sugar or flavoring.
Ancestral wild oats are believed to have multiple centers of origin including one center in Southwestern Asia, as well as a center in the general area of the Mediterranean Sea. As a family of plants, grasses (including oats) evolved ten's of millions of years ago. As a cultivated food, the planting of oats still goes back in time several thousand years.
Today the Russian Federation remains the world's largest producer of oats with Canada coming in second. Oats are grown throughout Europe and the Middle East. Oats are also grown in the United States and Australia, and also in parts of South America and Mexico.
Unenriched oatmeal cooked by boiling or microwave is 84% water, and contains 12% carbohydrates, including 2% dietary fiber (7.5 grams) and 2% each of protein and fat. In a 100 gram serving cooked oatmeal cooked oatmeal contains 17 calories and 29% of the Daily Value for manganese and moderate amounts of phosphorus and zinc. In the phytonutrient category oats provide valuable amounts of beta-glucan and saponins.
Consuming oat bran or whole rolled oats can lower the risk of heart disease when combined with a low fat diet via the effect of oat beta glucan to reduce levels of blood cholesterol. Oatmeal has proven ability to curb bad (LDL) cholesterol due to a type of fiber called beta-glucan. The fiber in oatmeal helps you feel full and eat less later on during the day. Fiber also eases constipation and helps control blood sugars. Both oats and oatmeal may provide digestive benefits in connection with their ability to increase the viscosity of our digestive tracts. Viscosity refers to the thickness of the contents and their likelihood to flow too quickly or too slowly through the digestive tract.. Intake of oats and oatmeal has been associated witah optimal levels of viscosity in which it becomes easier for food to pass through our upper digestive tract and improve our blood sugar regulation. Healthy passage of oats through the digestive tract has also been associated with an increased feeling of fullness. Smaller waist circumference, lower body mass index (BMI), and decreased risk of metabolic syndrome in adults has been associated with oatmeal intake. The beta-glucan found in oats helps prevent abrupt increase in blood sugar levels after consumption. Intake of oats and oatmeal has been shown to improve post-prandial blood sugar and insulin levels and also healthy levels of A1c.
Selecting and Storing Oats:
Buy small quantities of oats at one time, since this grain has a slightly higher fat content than other grains and will go rancid more quickly. Oats are generally available in prepackaged containers and bulk bins. If buying from a bulk bin make sure the bins are covered, free from debris and that the store has a good turnover to insure the store has a good turnover to insure maximum freshness. Smell the oats to make sure they are fresh. When purchasing oats in bulk or packaged containers, make sure there is no evidence of moisture.
Store oat in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place where they will keep for approximately two months. It buying prepared oatmeal products check the ingredients to insure the product does not contain any salt, sugar, or other additives.