Published on August 9th, 2014 | by Margaret Pardoe0
Are you getting your oats?
Oats (Avena sativa) are a cereal commonly eaten hot as a porridge made with milk and/or water in cold northern countries. They are also made into muesli, a raw breakfast created by Dr Bircher-Benner that is incredibly healthy in its original form, and more suitable for warmer weather.
Oatcakes in the form of a small round biscuit originate from Scotland and go well with all cheeses, particularly a sharp mature Cheddar! And the region of the UK that I come from has oatcakes in the form of a pancake, which is usually eaten as a savoury food, grilled with cheese. It makes an amazing base for a traditional English breakfast, or can be filled with just about the same range of fillings as regular pancakes. But this kind of oatcake also contains wheat flour so is unsuitable for anyone with any level of gluten intolerance.
Oats are a great addition to most people’s diets as they have impressive health benefits, are inexpensive and most people can tolerate them in their diet. They can even be made without milk, but benefit hugely from the addition of a pinch of salt, something to sweeten them a little, and any form of milk either to make them or just to pur on the top! And a big bowl of porridge in a Northern winter is like having and internal central heating system!
This cereal crop is especially useful in northern climes as it is able to tolerate both cold and wet growing conditions
Nutritional content of oats
- Oats are rich in a specific type of fibre called beta-glucan, which is known to help lower levels of LDL cholesterol.
- Oats contain the following minerals: manganese, selenium, phosphorus magnesium and zinc.
- Oats are also rich in carotenoids, Vitamin E, flavonoids and avenanthramides – a class of polypenols.
Health benefits of oats
- Oats are believed to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by lowering levels of cholesterol.
- They are also believed to lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Oats may help to lower blood pressure
Gluten intolerance and oats
Oats should be consumed with caution if you have a gluten intolerance or coeliac disease. The main problem in these circumstances is cross-contamination with other grains with gluten. To avoid this, buying oats that are prepared in an environment free from other gluten containing cereals should prevent any problems.
But there are a few of us who don’t tolerate avenin well, which is a form of gluten found exclusively in oats