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Which type of oats is best: Steel-cut, rolled or instant?

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Young or old, diabetic or not, oats are a breakfast staple for many. It comes as no surprise as oats are loaded with fiber and has nutrients that our bodies demand. While oats porridge is the most common way of eating it, you can also have oats upma with vegetables or even add healthy nuts and fruits to it. Some people also consume oats chilla, a desi non-sweet pancake. Just the way there are many ways to prepare and enjoy them, there are also different types of oats. But you must be wondering that with different types of oats out there, which is the healthiest one.

To help you pick the healthiest type of oats, Health Shots checked with Karishma Chawla, a Mumbai-based nutritionist and lifestyle educator.

Healthiest oats
Oats are a healthy addition to your diet. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Different types of oats

Before you start looking for oats recipes, you should know that oats are classified as a complex carbohydrate rich in fiber. Chawla says oats are richer in protein as compared to other grains. It is highly valued for its content of soluble fiber which helps to reduce LDL cholesterol in blood. The soluble fiber in oats can help to reduce glycaemic index (GI) of foods.

Pure oats are also gluten-free, so the expert says it can be consumed by people with celiac disease and wheat sensitivities. It’s a good source of magnesium which helps in controlling blood sugar. Types of oats:

1. Whole oat groats

This oat grain is at its purest form. So, it requires the most time to cook – around 30 to 45 minutes to prepare a meal using whole oat groats. You might have come across oat bran in the market. It is actually the outer layer of the oat groat, but is also sold separately. There are also Scottish oats that are ground versions of whole oat groats.

2. Rolled oats

Old-fashioned oats are oat groats that have gone through a steaming and flattening process, explains the expert. They have a milder flavour and and take less time to make as they have been partially cooked. It takes just around two to three minutes to prepare.

3. Steel-cut oats

They are closely related to the unprocessed oat groat. To prepare steel-cut oats, the groats are chopped into pieces with large steel blades, shares Chawla. These have a coarser, chewier texture and nuttier flavour than rolled oats. The average cooking time of steel-cut oats is around 15 to 30 minutes.

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4. Instant oats

This is the most processed form of rolled oats as they are frequently precooked, dried and cut into smaller pieces. That is after rolling and then steaming. You just need to soak it in hot water before eating it.

5. Quick oats

They are rolled oats that go through further processing to decrease cooking time. They are partially cooked and so, you will just need a few minutes to prepare it. It goes through steaming and then is rolled thinner than old-fashioned oats.

healthy oats
Oats are great for breakfast. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Healthiest type of oats

Steel-cut oats are best and healthiest type of oats, according to Chawla. That’s because they don’t go through much processing. This type of oats contains huge amount of fiber, has lower GI so it is suitable for stabilising blood sugar levels and aids in metabolism and weight management.

Oats are best eaten as a breakfast food item as they can keep you satiated for long. But anyone who has an oat sensitivity, must simply avoid it.

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