A while back, my husband had some blood work done and discovered his cholesterol was higher than it should be. He immediately started investigating different ways to improve it and discovered that oatmeal is great for lowering cholesterol (it has lots of soluble fiber) and has since been eating a bowl every morning. Turns out oatmeal is also purported to increase milk supply for breastfeeding mothers. Since we have a little one at home, and I’m breastfeeding, he makes double so I can have some, too.
But all this oatmeal got me asking about the different types – steel cut, quick, rolled, etc. Is one really better than the other, or is it just a preference thing? Well, I looked into it… Here’s what I found out:
Steel Cut (Irish) Oats: This is the whole oat grain and processed less than the rolled variety; the hull is removed and the grain is cut into smaller pieces. Some experts suggest this type of oatmeal is digested more slowly and is therefore better for you.
Rolled Oats: These are made by steaming and flattening whole oats.
Quick-cooking rolled oats: Before these are steamed and flattened, they are cut into smaller pieces.
Instant oatmeal: This is pre-cooked and dried, usually with flavors added. Of all the varieties, this is the least healthy, if only because of the additive sugars and oils.
From what I could find, it seems like there are some who recommend steel cut as being better, but generally rolled and steel cut are nearly identical nutritionally. I prefer the nutty, chewy texture of steel cut, as I think rolled can be mushy, but it seems any oats are better than no oats.
If you want more oat info, I found this handy chart at The Yummy Life.