is oats good for diabetes
Nutrition

Are Oats Good For Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic condition that affects 9.3% of the world’s population (reported by The International Diabetes Federation). It impairs the body’s insulin production or usage. Patients with diabetes need to manage their blood sugar levels and keep their carbohydrate consumption in check. Moreover, higher fibre and nutrient consumption can also improve their health. Whole grain oats are rich in soluble fibre and have a low glycemic index, which makes them a hearty breakfast staple. The superfood can be added in several ways to one’s diet to fit into their health plan. However, many benefits are offered by the grain and certain factors need to be considered. In this article, we will discuss and answer the commonly-asked question: Is oats good for diabetes?

Oatmeal

Oats, primarily cultivated for livestock feed, are hearty crops that are rich in fibre, which makes them a filling breakfast meal. The cereal is steamed, flattened and sliced in different ways, which produces a variety of oats such as old-fashioned, quick and instant oats. Stores stock many alternatives such as steel-cut (chewier and heartier version) and Scottish (creamier and stone-ground).

Oatmeal is old-fashioned oats cooked in water and has a slightly varied nutritional content than dry oats. Let us have a look at the dietary breakdown of each nutrient element of oats to answer: are oats good for diabetic patients?:

  • Calories: 153 (old-fashioned oats; ½ cup) vs 166 (oatmeal; 1 cup)
  • Protein: 5 grams (old-fashioned oats; ½ cup) vs 6 grams (oatmeal; 1 cup)
  • Fat: 3 grams (old-fashioned oats; ½ cup) vs 4 grams (oatmeal; 1 cup)
  • Carbohydrate: 27 grams (old-fashioned oats; ½ cup) vs 28 grams (oatmeal; 1 cup)
  • Fibre: 4 grams (old-fashioned oats; ½ cup) vs 4 grams (oatmeal; 1 cup)
  • Sugars: 0 grams (old-fashioned oats; ½ cup) vs 1 gram (oatmeal; 1 cup)

Thus, oats are a powerhouse of nutrients and can be considered a superfood. Researches suggest that it can aid in weight loss and reduce the risk of heart diseases. Let us look at the pros and cons of oatmeal for diabetes to answer: ‘are oats good for diabetic patients?'

Are Oats Good For people with Diabetes?
Types of Oatmeal

Pros of oatmeal for diabetes

Oats is a nutrient-rich cereal that has both benefits and drawbacks for patients with diabetes. The superfood might be carb-rich, but it can help to control diabetes when consumed in small amounts. Some pros of adding oatmeal to the diet plan of a diabetic patient are as follows:

  • Glycemic index estimates how food raises blood glucose levels, meaning diabetic patients should consume meals with a low GI. Oatmeal and muesli (containing oats) score under 55 on the index, which is lower than other breakfast cereals such as corn flakes (GI over 70).
  • Fibre: Rich food slows sugar breakdown in the body, which prevents glucose and insulin spikes. Moreover, the American Diabetes Foundation recommends 25 to 30 grams of fibre intake each day, and oatmeal helps one complete this requirement easily.
  • Diabetic patients are twice as likely to have heart disease than someone who does not. Therefore, it is necessary to control their cholesterol levels. Oatmeal contains beta-glucans, which is a specific form of fibre that helps lower harmful cholesterol levels and maintains the good ones.
  • Oatmeal is a powerhouse of energy and keeps one satiated for longer times, which prevents regular snacking. Thus, people can keep their calorie consumption low and maintain their blood sugar balance.
  • According to Nutrients’ systematic review, people diagnosed with type-2 diabetes who consume oatmeal had a better insulin response. Thus, oatmeal helps increase insulin sensitivity temporarily.
  • Oatmeal is low in sodium and sugars, which makes them an overall healthy food choice.

Patients with diabetes can gain many benefits after oatmeal consumption. Therefore, it is a perfect superfood. However, oats also have some cons that can be controlled for better results.

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Cons of oatmeal for diabetes

Oatmeal is a substantial source of carbohydrates and contains 50 grams of carbohydrates in ½ cup of raw oats. Hence, consuming oats in moderation is key to preventing spikes in blood sugar levels. Moreover, consuming instant oatmeal with added sugar and fruit extracts or consumption in high amounts can cause counterproductive effects. Moreover, oatmeal can affect people with delayed gastric emptying (gastroparesis), and the high fibre content can further slow down the digestion capability. To answer the question ‘are oats good for diabetes?’, the cereal works wonders when consumed in regulated amounts.

Do’s and don’ts of oatmeal and diabetes

Most people ask - ‘Which oats are good for diabetes?’. The obvious answer is oatmeal. It is the simplest preparation of oats, which is healthy but bland. However, you can safely add flavours in the following ways to make it more enjoyable.

  • Add Spices: Cinnamon and cardamom are sweet spices that naturally sweeten the dish. Moreover, cinnamon contributes earthy flavours, which makes it more interesting.
  • Use artificial sweeteners: Sweeteners might seem counter-productive. However, artificial sweeteners, such as Stevia, add flavour without causing a spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Add low-fat milk, non-dairy milk or water: You can cut back on the serving of oats used by adding water, low-fat milk or non-dairy milk (such as almond milk or oat milk) for a creamier flavour.
  • Add berries, fruits and nuts: Fruits, crushed nuts and berries can add to the texture and flavour of the dish. Moreover, nuts contain antioxidants, which helps to maintain overall health.
  • Add greek yoghurt for better digestion: Greek Yoghurt is a great source of probiotics, which helps balance gut bacteria.

Irrespective of the oatmeal recipe you choose to follow, make sure to keep the glycemic index and carbohydrate intake in mind. Some other don’ts you should follow are as follows:

  • Using pre-packaged oats without reading the nutritional information: Some oats and muesli brands add dried fruits or sugars. Hence, checking the labels and using whole grain oats is necessary.
  • Using ingredients high in carbs and sugar: Oatmeal is rich in carbohydrates. Adding ingredients such as cream can cause a spike in blood sugar levels.

Thus, limit your daily consumption of the superfood and be aware of the nutritional content.

List of Oats Benefits for Diabetes

If you were wondering is oatmeal good for type 2 diabetes, this section will answer your question. Frequent consumption of oats will help you in the following ways:

  • Reduce blood sugar levels, thanks to the low GI index.
  • Lower cholesterol and improve overall heart health.
  • It makes you feel full for longer, preventing you from overeating.
  • It regulates the digestive system and produces long-term energy.
  • Replacing a carbohydrate-rich breakfast with oats can reduce your dependency on insulin injections.

Health Benefits of Oatmeals Other Than Diabetes

The relationship between oats and diabetes is pretty significant, but their relationship extends beyond that. If you think oats are healthy and a desirable food option for only people with diabetes, check the other health benefits of consuming oats listed below.

  • Oats are rich in antioxidants which help lower your blood pressure levels. They also have anti-itching and anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
  • Oats contain beta-glucan, a powerful soluble fiber that reduces cholesterol levels, increases the feeling of fullness, and promotes the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract.
  • Losing weight can become easier with frequent oats consumption because of its filling nature.
  • Oats can be grounded into a fine mixture and used on the skin to prevent itching and irritation.
  • Eating oats from a young age can lower the chances of developing asthma in children.
  • The fiber-rich layer of oats helps get relief from constipation.

Additionally, oats are delicious and can be eaten daily with slight variations in the recipe.

How to Prepare Oatmeal for Diabetics?

Oats are a versatile, filling, and healthy food option that can be made in numerous ways. Whether you like sweet or savory oats, there is a recipe for both. People who want to enjoy a savory version should prepare oats upma. It can be prepared using the following steps:

  • Dry roast some oats until crisp and place them aside.
  • Add 1 ½  olive oil, ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds, 2 tablespoons peanuts/cashews, ½ tablespoon cumin seeds, ½ teaspoon urad daal, and ½ teaspoon chana dal, and fry till the ingredients turn golden brown.
  • Add some freshly sourced curry leaves, grated ginger, and fry until the raw smell disappears.
  • Cut one finely chopped onion and two green chilies and add them to the pan.
  • Once the onions turn succulent, add some chopped vegetables of your choice. Half a small carrot, 2 tablespoons of peas, and two French beans would be enough.
  • Now sprinkle some water and cover the pan, so the ingredients cook well under heat. After two to three minutes, remove the pan cover, add ½ salt and ¼ teaspoon turmeric to it and stir well.
  • Add 1 cup of water, bring to a boil, and then add in the oats you roasted at the beginning and stir well.
  • Cover the pan and patiently let it cook on low flame for at least two to three minutes. It is then ready to serve.

If you like having sweeter oats, prepare overnight oats. These are easy to prepare and require few ingredients. You can soak a cup of oats in almond milk and let it rest overnight in your fridge. The next day, you can mix some date syrup and add some chopped nuts for enhanced flavor. You don’t have to deal with tasteless oats recipes to enjoy oats benefits for diabetes, especially with the recipes shared above.

Do Oats Help for Gestational Diabetes Also?

Oats for diabetes have always been a healthy food option. Eating healthy becomes necessary when you’re pregnant, and if diagnosed with gestational diabetes, don’t ignore including oats in your regular diet. Choosing the right food items high in fiber and healthy carbs is the best way to control gestational diabetes, and oats make it easier. It even contains vitamin E, selenium, iron, and other essential nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy, so you cannot go wrong with this food choice.

Which Oats are The Best for People with Type 2 Diabetes?

Many people keep wondering ‘is oatmeal good for diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes?’ Well, the answer is yes. Oatmeals are healthy and good for people with diabetes, but you must pick the right option. For example, the market offers rolled oats, instant oats, steel-cut or Irish oats.

Steel-cut oats are the best for people with type 2 diabetes because of undergoing lesser processing steps. Rolled oats come next to it regarding health and nutritional profile, and instant oats fall at the bottom. So if you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, steel-cut oats will be the best for you.

Does Oatmeal Also Help to Reduce Weight?

Oatmeal for diabetics can be a boon, especially when it comes to losing weight. Oatmeal helps to reduce weight as they are high in fiber and keep you feeling full for significantly longer hours. It ends your urge to overeat, making it easier for you to lose weight over a period.

Bottomline

Whole grain oats are rich in soluble fibre and have a low glycemic index, which makes them a hearty breakfast staple. The superfood can be added in several ways to one’s diet to fit into their health plan. In smaller amounts, oats can be a healthy addition to one’s diet. However, regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is important. Steel-cut or rolled oats make for a better base and watching out for added ingredients is essential. Thus, oats are a powerhouse of nutrients and can be considered a superfood.

FAQs

1. Which oats are good for diabetes?

For a person with diabetes, oats are generally meant to be helpful as they are rich in fiber and provide essential minerals to the body. Steel-cut or Irish Oats, Porridge, Slow-cooked oats, etc are known to be the best type as these contain more soluble fiber and can regulate blood sugar levels. They also help to slow down the process of digestion.

2. Are oats good to lower blood sugar? 

Among one the several pros of adding oats to a diabetic diet would be that it helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Since oats have a low glycemic index and high fiber content, consuming them would not lead to high spikes in blood glucose. Additionally, oats are also healthy for the heart as they lower cholesterol

3. Can diabetics eat oatmeal every day?

The benefits of oatmeal are varied. In moderate portions, it can be a highly advantageous go-to meal for people with diabetes. Approximately 30 grams of cooked oatmeal can be incorporated into the meal plan. Oatmeal for breakfast can be a good option to keep the blood sugars regulated from the beginning.

4. How do you cook oats for diabetics?

Cooked oatmeal can be good for a person with diabetes. You can try to add more nutritious items to your bowl of oatmeal like cinnamon, nuts, Greek yogurt, low-fat milk, etc. This will make it healthier and provide you with a more balanced spread of nutrition.

5. Is Oats Good for Diabetes?

Yes, oats are good for people with diabetes. Oats are rich in fiber and magnesium, helping people control their blood sugar levels and the sugar-processing process within the body. The only point of consideration remains the carbohydrate content. If you want to obtain the maximum health benefits of oats, ensure you control your portions.

6. Which Oats is Better for Diabetes?

Steel-cut oats are better for people with diabetes. Also known as Irish oats, they take longer cooking time and are generally larger than other oats. Since these oats are minimally processed compared to rolled oats and instant oats, they have a better nutritional profile.

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