In all your morning madness, it can be tempting to take a nutritional shortcut in favor of gaining a few minutes back in your busy schedule.
While grabbing a pastry or pouring a bowl of cereal instead of preparing a healthier breakfast may be the more time-conscious choice, it’s also the choice that leads to a quick boost that just as quickly fades. Yep, we’re talking about a result that leaves you feeling more tired than you were to begin with.
The secret isn’t the quick fix. Instead, it’s the slow and steady one—something that even applies to basic oatmeal.
Breakfast Showdown: Instant Oatmeal vs. Old-Fashioned Oatmeal & Steel-cut Oats
If your bowl of oatmeal starts with opening a packet, you’re likely not getting the nutritional benefits you think you are. Instant and slow-cooked oatmeal are processed differently, meaning that your body also processes them in different ways.
In addition to the undesirable addition of added salt and sugars, instant oatmeal or quick-cooking oats actually have a higher glycemic index than slow-cooking oatmeal because of the way the oats are processed. This processing means that the body takes less time to digest the oats, which causes a rapid rise in blood sugar. The result? A burst of inflammation (yeah, not good).
However, slow-cooked oatmeal—which is slowly absorbed by the body—is a delightful way to enjoy the benefits of the complex carbohydrates in this extraordinarily healthful whole grain. It provides sustained energy and also stimulates the release of serotonin, a key neurotransmitter that can lift mood and reduce carbohydrate cravings.
What’s So Great About Oats, Anyway?
Oats are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibrous lignans and phytochemicals that protect against heart disease, cancers, diabetes and a whole host of diseases. They’re also are a valued source of slowly-digested complex carbohydrates, providing quality calories for energy needs and a great option for a quick energy boost.
Give That Oatmeal an Added Health Boost
Don’t forget to top your oatmeal with some anti-inflammatory treats:
- Cinnamon, nutmeg or clove to help further control variance in blood sugar
- Chia seeds for further energy, protein and minerals
- 1 tablespoon of chopped raw walnuts, almonds or macadamia nuts for added protein and omegas
- Coconut milk or oil, both excellent sources of healthy fats to help slow absorption of carbohydrates
- Mixed berries for an antioxidant boost
Need another reason to eat slow-cooked oatmeal for breakfast? Oats have been shown in scientific studies to favorably alter metabolism and enhance performance when ingested 45 minutes to 1 hour before exercise.