Whether you look to the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, or the surgeon general, the recommendation is clear: breakfast is not a meal worth skipping. It’s the meal of champions, and our first source of the day’s energy and nutrients. Extensive research shows that healthy breakfast foods help to improve your concentration and performance, gives you more strength and endurance to meet the day’s challenges, lowers your cholesterol levels, and may even contribute to weight loss by speeding up your metabolism.
But, as more studies continue to unveil, what you put into your mouth for that critical meal may be equally as important.
“If you eat something refined, like an overly sweet cinnamon roll, that’s the worst thing you can eat,” says Judy Caplan, a registered dietitian nutritionist for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “You get an insulin [spike], and [then] your blood sugar drops too low so you get hungry again. That’s why people get into a cycle of overeating junk.”
So, once we adopt this virtue of eating a healthy breakfast when we rise, the real question is: what should we eat? A bowl of cereal, maybe. Perhaps, a green juice or smoothie. How about a steamy bowl of oats? Yes, experts are now trumpeting oatmeal as “the perfect breakfast.” Here are five reasons why you should start your morning off with oatmeal.
Reason #1: Fills You Up
A bowl of oatmeal is full of soluble fiber – roughly 4 grams per cup. Soluble fiber absorbs a lot of water, which slows down the digestive process. As a result, you will feel full longer and will be less likely to overeat or consume junk foods at lunch.
Reason #2: Fights Bad “LDL” Cholesterol
Oatmeal contains heart-healthy compounds and fiber that could also result in lower cholesterol, specifically the bad “LDL” variety. In fact, dozens of studies show that boosting your intake of soluble fiber by 5 to 10 grams each day could result in a 5-percent drop in bad cholesterol, which can lower your risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Reason #3: Helps You Lose Weight
Oatmeal’s proclaimed weight loss benefits appear to be authentic. First, as mentioned, the fiber in a bowl of oatmeal makes you feel fuller longer, thereby curbing calorie intake throughout the remainder of the day. Secondly, oatmeal contains “slow-releasing” carbohydrates, which may help you burn more fat if eaten a few hours before exercise, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition. A recent 18-year study from researchers at the University of Minnesota has also shown that people who eat breakfast every day gained 4 pounds fewer than those who skipped breakfast.
Reason #4: Reduces The Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
The soluble fiber in oats helps to control blood glucose levels, which may reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes. The American Diabetes Association even recommends people with diabetes eat oats, or oatmeal.
Reason #5: It’s Quick
Sure, grabbing a breakfast bar is the quickest route to fueling your body, but quick-cooking (instant) oatmeal can be made in less than 5 minutes; old-fashioned oats can be prepped on the stovetop in 10 to 15 minutes. It’s one of the quickest yet healthiest breakfasts you can eat.
While any type of oatmeal is a healthy breakfast choice, steel-cut oats contain more fiber than the instant varieties. To prepare, bring one cup of water or milk (or milk alternative such as almond or coconut) to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in ½ cup steel-cut oats and reduce heat for 1 minute. Cover and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes.
When buying the instant oatmeal, try and avoid the flavored varieties, which can be chock-full of sugar and artificial flavors. To sweeten up your oats, add toasted nuts, fruit, or foods high in monounsaturated fats like nut butter or ground flaxseed.
Image via Rachel Hathaway