Oatmeal is good food – we've known it since the days of cauldrons, fires, and cold mornings tending the farm. In recent years, the buzz has been all about oats being heart healthy, but as is usually the case with good, whole foods, the benefits don't seem to stop there.
A recent study randomized a group of men and women to consume either a diet high in beta-glucan (a type of fiber) from oats or a diet made up of foods not containing the compound. Those consuming the beta-glucan experienced positive effects on insulin response; the subjects who were obese had a significant reduction in blood pressure, too. (Important note: The study was funded by the Quaker Oats Company.)
Oatmeal tip: You may have heard that the old-fashioned, slow cooking oats are a better health choice than instant oatmeal, which is more finely ground and cooks up into more of a paste than a chewy, creamy cereal. Instant oatmeal has a significantly higher glycemic impact. So, buy the old-fashioned oats (steel cut are the best) and do this if you're in a hurry: Pour half a cup of the oats in a microwave-safe bowl and add just enough water to cover every bit of the oats. Microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Stir, and see if the consistency is to your liking. You may want to add a bit of milk or cream and zap it again for a few more seconds. While it's hot, stir in a teaspoon of butter or a spread. After, add your cinnamon, fruit, sweetener, and whatever else fits your fancy.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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