You were a lucky kid if your parents made you eat porridge for breakfast. No matter how vile those steaming bowls of bland mush may have tasted, porridge made of oats is a nutritional powerhouse with far-reaching benefits. Here are some reasons why you should never outgrow a morning porridge habit.
1. Oats are good for your heart.
They contain a bio-active, anti-oxidant compound called “avenanthramide” that researchers have found cleans arteries, prevents fatty buildup, and reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer.
2. Oats are packed with fiber (4 grams per 1 cup).
The soluble fiber (beta-glucan) is important, as it traps substances in the intestinal tract associated with high cholesterol and flushes them out. Some studies have shown the fiber in oats to reduce cholesterol by 23 percent. The insoluble fiber scrubs the intestines as it moves through and reduces constipation. The presence of fiber can also ease heartburn in people who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease.
3. Oats have an impressive nutritional profile.
They are rich in vitamin B, folic acid, protein (6 grams per cup), manganese, and magnesium, as well as other minerals.
4. Oats help fight obesity and weight gain.
The National Post cites a study of 10,000 children in which those who ate porridge regularly were 50 percent less likely to be obese than those who did not eat it. Also, a person doesn’t need to eat as much food in order to feel satisfied (see #5 below).
(I suspect oatmeal is a sort of ‘indicator species’ for a person’s nutrition, since those who eat it are more likely to be aware of good dietary habits than those who don’t, considering that porridge isn’t exactly the most tantalizing option for breakfast — at least in my opinion!)
5. Oats will stave off hunger for longer.
Oats are a “low glycemic carbohydrate,” which means that it takes your body a longer time to digest and absorb them. So by eating a bowl of porridge, which contains only about 150 calories, you will feel full for much longer than if you eat a piece of toast or a bowl of cereal.
If you’re already a devout porridge-eater, keep it up. If you need some inspiration, try some of the recipes below to make your porridge tastier. Just be sure to make it yourself, starting with rolled oats. Avoid pre-flavoured packets of instant oatmeal, which contain unnecessary sugar and additives.