Steel cut vs regular: which oats to eat
We all should know how fab oatmeal is for our body by helping to lower cholesterol levels, thus decreasing the risk of heart disease and the soluble fiber helps to keep your blood sugars leveled for longer (no dips) and keep you feel full longer. The whole grain addition to your diet can also reduce your risk of type II diabetes, through controlling blood glucose levels and keeping them stabile. AND, the soluble fiber can help to prevent high blood pressure. Not to mention that oatmeal, when you look at the label (if all you are eating is plain oatmeal) has no other ingredients: just oats. They are a totally pure food, and I love that. I love looking at the ingredients label and just seeing one ingredient, nothing added, just real food. Can you get more fab than that? Nope! But that does bring up the age old question: Do I eat steel cut or regular milled oats?
What is the big difference between steel cut and regular milled oats?
Honestly, it is the way that they are processed. All oats, once picked, are cleaned, hulled, and conditioned; the outer shell is removed and the inside little kernel is heated to dry them out, so that the oats can be stored over time and not perish. This is where oats start to differ: steel cut (AKA Irish oats) are the kernels (post heating) that are literally chopped with steel blades, allowing for chewier oatmeal with more texture, that takes around 30 minutes to cook. Rolled (AKA old fashioned) oats, take those same kernels, then steamed and run through heavy metal rollers to flatten them very thin so that they can cook in under 5 minutes. Instant oatmeal is created the same way as the milled oats, but then cooked and dried again, so that they can cook in under a minute....because technically they are already cooked. So really you are looking at a level of processing, and the steel cut oats are the least processed of the bunch.
Are there nutritional differences?
For the most part, nutritionally they are the same. The main difference is that the steel cut oats have a slightly higher fiber content, thus making you feel fuller longer, give more benefits to decrease cardiac risks, high blood pressure, and prevent diabetes type II. But it is really minimal and only due to less processing. Oats are great for helping to eat a healthy diet when losing weight, low in sodium, and, did I mention, lots of fiber?
Oatmeal contains (on one serving size):
5g sodium (virtually NONE)
and 19% of your RDA (recommended daily allowance) Iron
So, truly the choice is up to you: Do you want to spend 30 minutes making yummy steel cut oats, or 5 minutes making (in my humble opinion) slightly less yummy regular oats? I switch 50/50 because I don't have the time or, more importantly, patience to make steel cut oats and they are a little too grainy to add to my morning smoothies, so I have both on hand, and depending on the day/time I eat either. So eat whichever you would like, but make sure to get some oats in your diet!
Yours in Good Health