Oats have been a staple in the traditional American diet for years, and much like the potato has been under scrutiny.

In the fitness and wellness realm, oats are one of the foundations of a healthy diet and have successfully helped Americans lower their cholesterol and lose weight.

Oats are a whole-grain powerhouse that pack an amazing nutritional value and offer a multitude of health benefits.

While there are many ideal options available, be wary of instant oats loaded with added sugar; read the nutrition label to find healthier instant oats options with reduced amounts of sugar. Your best bet is to look for whole-grain oats or steel-cut oats and sweeten with fruit, honey or a little brown sugar.

What oats can do

Boost energy: Oats are a complex carbohydrate that provides muscles with energy they need to utilize during the day.

Support weight loss: Oats are rich in soluble fiber, which can help you feel fuller for longer, as it takes longer to digest. This reduces hunger, which can help you eat less.

Protect skin: Oats normalize the skin’s pH, which relieves itchy and uncomfortable skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Nutrients in oats like copper, zinc, selenium, thiamin and niacin contribute to support skin health.

Promote heart health: Foods rich in whole oat sources of soluble fiber have been linked to good heart health. A 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 the soluble fiber.

Support colon health: Oats contain soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and delays stomach emptying which keeps you full. Insoluble fiber attracts water, adds bulk and assists in moving food and waste quickly through the digestive track. This prevents constipation and promotes colon health. Studies also show a link between fiber intake and risk of colon cancer-as people increased their fiber intake, their risk of colon cancer decreased.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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