Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Superfoods: Oats

Rolled oats and also oatmeal, the milled grain, are both high in protein, contain essential fats and are rich in minerals including zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron. Vitamin C, found in orange juice for example, assists the absorption of iron, so a bowl of muesli or steaming porridge and a glass of orange juice make an ideal breakfast.
B vitamins, also found in oats, are needed not just for healthy skin, nails and hair but also to nourish nervous systems and to help keep energy levels up - particularly useful for stressed or grumpy teenagers.

Oats are also a wonderful source of soluble fibre, essential for ensuring that our digestive systems work efficiently. This is particularly important with constipation becoming increasingly problematic among young children. The soluble fibre also helps to reduce cholesterol levels.
Oats have a very low glycaemic index, which means that they release sugar into the blood very slowly. This can have a positive impact on how we feel and behave and it can improve our concentration levels. It also means that oats can play a key role in the active prevention of diabetes, a condition we are now seeing in growing numbers of young people. In fact oats have such a remarkable impact on stabilising blood sugar levels that before insulin was discovered, oats were used as one of the few effective treatments for diabetes.
As oats take a long time to digest, they are an ideal food for anyone trying to lose weight as they leave you feeling satisfied for longer. Oats can also help skin complaints such as eczema and psoriasis. For these conditions, put four tablespoons of oats in a muslin bag whenever you have a bath. You can also use the bag as a sponge and it can be re-used about four or five times.
I prefer to eat my oats and I cook a big pan of creamy porridge most mornings and vary the toppings. A handful of frozen berries are always popular with children as they cool the porridge down slightly and turn it a pale shade of pink or blue. Chopped dried fruits, pureed apple or chopped banana are quick and easy too. You can also add oats to crumble toppings, biscuits and flapjack-style bars, and use them as a coating for oily fish.

Labels: , , , ,