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Know Your Oats (A Quick Guide to Various Oat Types)

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oat_typesA serving of oats is packed with protein, iron, manganese, vitamin E, thiamine and riboflavin. It is also a wonderful source of complex carbohydrates that energize your body. Consuming oats is good for the gut as they are loaded with fiber. Experts say that compared to all the grains on the planet, oats have the highest proportion of fiber.

You may have also read somewhere that oats help lower blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. They are the perfect treats for diabetics as well as overweight individuals.

When shopping, you may come across an assortment of oats. A closer inspection will reveal that the bits inside vary in shape and size. If you are confused as to what to place in your shopping cart, read on. Below you will find a quick guide to the different types of oats available on today’s market.

Whole Oat Groats

They are the least widely available types of oats. What makes them unpopular among many consumers is the fact that whole oat groats take a long time to cook — about an hour on a stovetop. According to those who have tried them, whole oat groats boast of a chewy texture and nutty flavor.

Steel Cut Oats

Also known as Irish oats, steel cut oats are simply whole oat groats cut into small pieces. Of course they are called that way because sharp metal blades are used in chopping them up. They have the same flavor as whole groat oats but they are nearly as quick to cook on a stovetop as old-fashioned rolled oats.

Old-fashioned Rolled Oats

Some manufacturers refer to them as regular rolled oats. Basically, old-fashioned rolled oats are whole oat groats steamed in order to make them softer. Once soft, they are rolled onto flakes. The process of steaming and rolling allows the healthy oils in oats to be stabilized. Also, it shortens cooking time.

Quick Rolled Oats

Compared to old-fashioned rolled oats, quick rolled oats undergo the steaming process, making them partially cooked. In fact, they can be cooked on a stovetop in just under 5 minutes. Since they are very popular, quick rolled oats are readily available at most supermarkets.

Instant Rolled Oats

Opting for instant rolled oats is recommendable if you love the health benefits of oats but hate cooking. All you have to do is add boiling water to instant rolled oats and you have a serving of a nourishing breakfast. Instant rolled oats are rolled thinner, steamed longer and dehydrated more than quick rolled oats.

Oat Bran

Remember whole oat groats? Before being sold, their manufacturers actually remove the outer layer of the groats. The outer layer isn’t thrown away. Instead, it is ground and turned into coarse meal that is so full of fiber. Oat bran makes for a wonderful addition to cereals, smoothies and baked treats.

Oat Flour

Basically, oat flour is simply whole oat groats that are pulverized and turned into fine powder. Oat flour is often used as breading for meat products, thickener for soups, stews and sauces, and for baking all sorts of goodies. You can make your own oat flour at home with any oat type of your preferences (except oat bran), using your food processor.