Oats are one of the most nutritious grains you can eat.
On top of that, they’re also very filling, and can be used in a variety of different ways.
Of course, the simplest and most popular way to eat them is in the form of oatmeal.
I, myself, enjoy one bowl every single day, sprinkled with cinnamon and mixed with some wonderful granola.
Still, you can also put them in your smoothies, make home-baked cookies, or use them in a salad (like this).
Do you want to add oats to your day-to-day life?
If so, here are the benefits and side effects you should know about.
6 Health Benefits Of Oats
1. Good For Your Skin
However, some types of grains can also be really good for your exterior.
At the top of that list, you’ll find oats.
Oats are actually full of various compounds that have antioxidant properties (scientific review).
Among the most potent ones are phytic acid and avenanthramides.
Antioxidants help protect your skin against free radical damage — primarily from too much sun exposure (scientific review).
This can prevent early signs of photoaging, such as wrinkles, sunspots, and sagging skin.
2. Defend Against Heart Disease
As you may know, heart disease is America’s number one killer.
That’s really sad, especially considering most of it is caused by poor eating and lifestyle habits (source).
Thankfully, you can greatly reduce your chances of having to deal with the horrible condition.
One of the easiest ways is to avoid heart-hostile foods and choose heart-friendly options instead.
One such heart-friendly option is our humble friend, the oat.
Oats have a special type of insoluble fiber in them, called beta-glucan.
This has been shown to be beneficial for long-term heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol (meta-analysis).
In fact, already in 1997, the FDA approved the claim that beta glucan lowers cholesterol levels as well as the risk of heart disease.
On average, oat consumption alone has been shown to lower overall cholesterol by 5% and LDL by 7% (scientific review).
3. Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Another widespread modern sickness is diabetes.
Like with heart disease, developing type 2 diabetes mostly comes down to diet and lifestyle.
When the risk factors are present, your body may become less sensitive to insulin.
This results in prolonged elevated blood sugar levels, which come with a host of nasty health effects.
Eating oats regularly can help you keep diabetes away, and may even increase your insulin sensitivity.
4. Aid Your Digestion
If you’re struggling with constipation, there are few foods better than oats.
This is because of the high fiber content.
Just 100 grams of the grains will give you around 10.5 grams — almost half of the daily recommended amount!
Oats contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.
When it comes to digestive health, they provide a powerful “1-2 combo”.
The soluble type will make your poop bigger and softer.
Insoluble fiber will put some more weight to it.
When put together, these factors result in more frequent, quicker, and more comfortable “number 2’s”.
On top of that, the special type of fiber found in oats, beta glucan, has been shown to have potential probiotic effects as well (study).
5. Support Bone Health
Many people don’t know this, but oats are actually one of the most bone-healthy foods around.
This is because they are rich in 4 nutrients that are absolutely vital for this.
In just 100 grams of oats, you get (among other things):
- 177mg of magnesium (44% of RDV)
- 4.9mg of manganese (246% of RDV)
- 523mg of phosphorus (52% of RDV)
- 4mg of zinc (26% of RDV)
That’s a lot of nutrition for such a cheap and convenient food!
But how exactly do these minerals help your bones?
Well, getting enough magnesium is important for avoiding osteoporosis.
Research has found that animals lacking the mineral have brittle bones with microfractures in them (scientific review).
Manganese is an important co-factor in the production of bone collagen and cartilage (scientific review).
Phosphorus is needed for calcium to be used to its full potential, and zinc is essential for regular bone metabolism (scientific review).
Give your bones what they need — remember to eat your oats!
6. Fight Off Cognitive Decline
Oats are high in thiamin — also known as vitamin B1.
100 grams of the grain will give you around 0.8mg of the vitamin (51% of the recommended daily value).
Thiamin is essential for healthy brain function.
If you don’t get enough of it, you could experience brain fog or find it hard to remember smaller details.
Should you become completely deficient in the nutrient, you may get neurological problems and even memory loss (scientific review).
Lower levels of thiamin have also been associated with serious brain disorders, like delirium and Alzheimer’s disease.
Some research has indicated that the vitamin can be used to improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s and similar disorders (scientific review).
Another way oats help your cognition is by lowering LDL cholesterol and improving heart function, as mentioned earlier.
Heart health is strongly linked to various brain-related illnesses — especially strokes and vascular dementia (source).
Since brain disorders have become so common nowadays, it’s best we do what we can to improve our odds.
One way to do that is to regularly eat brain-friendly foods, like oats.
2 Potential Side Effects Of Eating Oats
1. More Frequent Toilet Visits
Now, I know what you might be thinking?
Constipation is a major health problem in today’s society, so why would more frequent toilet visits be a problem?
Well, generally speaking, it’s definitely a good thing — not a problem at all.
As mentioned under health benefit number 4, the high fiber content of oats makes them amazing at improving your digestion.
They really speed things up when it comes to waste removal.
Sometimes they may be a bit too good at doing their job, though — it depends on the situation.
If you eat a large bowl of oats, you’ll likely feel something starting to move soon after — especially if you’ve had a large meal earlier in the day.
When Push Comes To Shove
Those of us who’ve eaten oats for years know:
More often than not, they’ll push things along really fast.
Sometimes, it happens so fast that you practically need to run to the toilet.
If you’re at home, this may not be such a hassle — in fact, it can be a relief.
On the other hand, if you’re at someone else’s house, or on a road trip or something, you need to keep this side effect in mind.
In certain scenarios, it may be best to avoid that big bowl of oats (at least until you find a comfortable toilet you can use in peace).
2. May Cause Gas And Bloating
This second possible side effect is closely related to the first one.
As we went over, oats have a lot of dietary fiber in them.
For someone who’s been eating mostly whole plant foods for years on end, this produces little-to-no negative effects.
Personally, when I eat a large bowl of oats, I get pretty much no gas or bloating to speak of.
Still, this was not always the case — my digestive system had to get accustomed to the high fiber load over time.
Easing Into It
My microbiome (gut bacteria) had to adjust, and this is likely the case with yours as well.
Once it does, though, it’ll be for the better (scientific review).
A high-fiber way of eating has a long list of benefits.
However, if you’re not used to it, it’s best that you gradually increase the amount.
Don’t go all-out right away — with raw salads, whole-grain breads, and oatmeal every day.
Take some time to ease into it, or you might find that your stomach gets “baloony”, in more ways than one.
Become An Oat Keeper
And that’s it!
Those are the oats benefits and side effects you should know about.
As you can see, there are way more good things than bad when it comes to this great grain.
Nutritionally speaking, there are few foods that give you a bigger bang for your buck than oats.
Also, they’re highly versatile, very convenient, and quick to prepare.
All things considered, it’s a good idea to keep a pack of oats in your kitchen at all times.