Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Oats have been used as a food source for thousands of years. They were first cultivated in Central Asia and were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Oats were later introduced to Europe in the Middle Ages and became a popular food source amongst farmers. Oats were also a staple food source in the United States during the 19th century as they were easy to grow and could be stored for long periods of time. Oats were also used as a feed for livestock and as a natural fertilizer for crops.
Today, oats are still a popular food source, as they are a nutritious and versatile grain. You might’ve also noticed that oats seem to be leaving the shelves a little faster recently— oat products (like our favourite overnight oats) and alternatives to dairy (oat milk) have become highly popularized by mainstream social media, and rightfully so. Oats have numerous health benefits that set it apart. It's higher in macronutrients than basic flour and can reduce risk of health disease! It's also versatile in recipes: from being baked in a cookie to oatmeal topped with berries or even oatmeal mixed with protein powder (proats). Continue reading to learn more about oats.
Fun fact: Did you know, the predecessor of the oatmeal cookie, the oatcake, has long been used in high energy intensive activities as a quick energy boost? Before the oatmeal cookie was invented by Fannie Merritt Farmer in the 1800s, a biscuit-like cracker made from oats was commonly eaten during Roman times in Scotland. Soldiers would bring these oatcakes with them and consume them on the battlefield to keep their bodies energized and ready to fight (almost like a Zentein protein bar)! In the 1900s, Quaker popularized our beloved oatmeal cookie by branding it on the side of their oat cartons.
Oats are nutrient dense
Oats are a whole grain that are high in nutrients and fiber. They contain vitamins and minerals like manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, and vitamins B1, B3, B5, and B6. Oats are a good source of protein and carbohydrates and provide the body with fiber, which helps to regulate digestion and keep you feeling full. Oats are also a good source of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are important for brain and heart health and can help to reduce inflammation. Oats also contain antioxidants and phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Oats may help prevent heart disease
Oats are a good source of dietary fiber, which has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Oats also contain important minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which help to regulate blood pressure. Additionally, oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which has been shown to reduce “bad” cholesterol levels and increase “good” cholesterol levels. Finally, some studies have suggested that oats can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Oats contain antioxidants
Oats contain a variety of antioxidants, which are compounds that can help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Oats are rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation and may reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. Oats also contain a type of antioxidant called avenanthramides, which are unique to oats and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties. Finally, oats also contain vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that can help to protect cells from oxidative damage.
Oats can help with athletic performance and endurance
Oats are a great source of energy and are packed with essential nutrients, which can help to fuel athletic performance. The carbohydrates found in oats can provide the body with energy to fuel physical activity, while the protein and fiber can help to regulate blood sugar levels, which can help to maintain energy levels throughout a workout. Oats can be beneficial for athletes in a variety of sports, from endurance sports such as running, cycling, and swimming to team sports such as soccer, basketball, and football.