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June 23, 2023
April 23, 2024
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Oatmeal is a popular breakfast food that is made from oats. Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, oatmeal is a versatile dish. The soluble fiber in oatmeal is from beta-glucan, which has been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol levels and helps stabilize blood glucose levels.¹

There are a few different varieties of oatmeal available in grocery stores (Rolled Oats, Steel-Cut Oats, Old-Fashioned Oats,  and the mots refined ones: Instant Oats). Some are a bit more refined than others, but they also take longer to prepare. Which one is best depends a bit on how you intend to cook them and how much time you have.

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Glycemic Index Table

The glycemic index of oatmeal is dependent on the type of oat used and how the oatmeal is prepared. Oatmeal from rolled oats has a low GI score of 55 per serving, while instant oatmeal has a score of 79. In comparison, breakfast cereals, like cornflakes, have a glycemic index of above 70. The below glycemic index information is for 100g of uncooked rolled oats.¹ ²

Glycemic Index

55

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

68.7g

GL per Serving

9.00

Nutritional Facts

Oats are harvested, hulled, and processed in a variety of methods. The results are the oatmeal products we see in the cereal section of the grocery store.

The nutritional facts below are based on a 100g serving of uncooked, rolled oats.¹

Calories

71 kcal

Carbs

12 g

Protein

2.54 g

Fiber

1.7 g

Cholesterol

0 mg

Vitamins

Biotin (21,9 µg), Folate (32 µg)

Sodium

4 mg

Total Fat

1.52 g

Is Oatmeal Good for Weight Loss?

High-fiber foods like oatmeal are satiating and filling. One small study from 2015 observed the level of satiety and blood glucose numbers of three participant groups: people who consumed cornflakes, oatmeal, or just water.¹⁴ Participants who ate oatmeal felt full the longest and also had the lowest glucose ranges.  

There are several ways to prepare and eat oatmeal. Choosing the right type of oats, as well as the most blood-sugar-friendly toppings, can help you stay on track with your weight loss efforts. Processed oatmeal, or instant oatmeal, will cook much faster than unprocessed varieties. There is no doubt these options are very convenient for people who are in a rush in the morning to get out the door, but the price of convenience can interfere with your weight loss goals.

Is Oatmeal Safe for People Living with Diabetes?

Individuals living with type 2 diabetes may benefit from eating oatmeal due to its glucose and cholesterol-lowering effects. If you are living with diabetes, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid prepackaged, instant oats with added sweeteners. Aim to purchase steel-cut or rolled oat varieties.
  • Add cinnamon to oatmeal, which can also help lower blood sugar.
  • Add a protein and healthy fat to create a well-balanced meal and further stabilize your blood sugar levels.
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Allergies

Oat allergies are rare when compared to other grain allergies, such as wheat or barley. However, allergic reactions to oatmeal can vary in severity and may include symptoms such as itching, hives, swelling, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, gastrointestinal discomfort, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. 

Some individuals who are allergic to wheat or suffer from Celiac disease may experience cross-reactivity to oats. Oats contain avenin, a protein that is structurally similar to the gluten protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, which may trigger allergies and cross-reactivity. 

While oats are inherently gluten-free, they may also come into contact with gluten cross-containments when processed, stored, or transported. 

If you suspect an allergy to oatmeal, please consult a healthcare professional.

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FAQs

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Oatmeal Spike Insulin?

No, oatmeal does not spike insulin levels significantly. Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate that is digested slowly, leading to a gradual increase in blood sugar levels and a corresponding gradual release of insulin. This slow and steady release of insulin helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels and prevent spikes and crashes. Additionally, oatmeal is high in fiber, which further slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, helping to prevent insulin spikes. Overall, oatmeal is a healthy and nutritious food that can be part of a balanced diet for people with diabetes or anyone looking to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Is Oatmeal Low Glycemic?

Yes, oatmeal is considered a low glycemic food due to its high fiber content and slow digestion, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Oatmeal?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat oatmeal as it is a low glycemic index food that can help regulate blood sugar levels. However, portion control and choosing plain oatmeal without added sugars or flavors is important. Consultation with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian is recommended for personalized dietary advice.

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References

  1. USDA FoodData Central. (n.d.). Food Details - Oats, whole grain, rolled. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2346396/nutrients
  2. Glycemic Index Foundation. (n.d.). GI Search. Retrieved from https://glycemicindex.com/gi-search/
  3. Nutraceutical functions of beta-glucans in human nutrition. (2019). Roczniki Państwowego Zakładu Higieny, 315–324. https://doi.org/10.32394/rpzh.2019.0082 
  4. Othman, R. A., Moghadasian, M. H., & Jones, P. J. (2011). Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan. Nutrition Reviews, 69(6), 299–309. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00401.x 
  5. Sanders, M. E., Merenstein, D. J., Reid, G., Gibson, G. R., & Rastall, R. A. (2019). Probiotics and prebiotics in intestinal health and disease: from biology to the clinic. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 16(10), 605–616. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41575-019-0173-3 
  6. Calvo, M. S., & Lamberg-Allardt, C. J. (2015). Phosphorus. Advances in Nutrition, 6(6), 860–862. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.115.008516 
  7. ScienceDaily. (2016, October 7). Circadian rhythm disruption leads to obesity, diabetes and heart attack. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161007085247.htm
  8. Bouchard J, Valookaran AF, Aloud BM, Raj P, Malunga LN, Thandapilly SJ, Netticadan T. Impact of oats in the prevention/management of hypertension. Food Chemistry. 2022 Jul 1;381:132198. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2022.132198. Epub 2022 Jan 21. PMID: 35123221.
  9. Olechnowicz, J., Tinkov, A., Skalny, A., & Suliburska, J. (2017). Zinc status is associated with inflammation, oxidative stress, lipid, and glucose metabolism. The Journal of Physiological Sciences, 68(1), 19–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12576-017-0571-7 
  10. Polegato, B. F., Pereira, A. G., Azevedo, P. S., Costa, N. A., Zornoff, L. A. M., Paiva, S. A. R., & Minicucci, M. F. (2019). Role of Thiamin in Health and Disease. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 34(4), 558–564. https://doi.org/10.1002/ncp.10234 
  11. Beltramo, E., Berrone, E., Tarallo, S., & Porta, M. (2008). Effects of thiamine and benfotiamine on intracellular glucose metabolism and relevance in the prevention of diabetic complications. Acta Diabetologica, 45(3), 131–141. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00592-008-0042-y 
  12. Schutten, J. C., Joosten, M. M., de Borst, M. H., & Bakker, S. J. (2018). Magnesium and Blood Pressure: A Physiology-Based Approach. Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease, 25(3), 244–250. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.ackd.2017.12.003
  13. Tarleton, E. K., & Littenberg, B. (2015). Magnesium Intake and Depression in Adults. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 28(2), 249–256. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2015.02.140176 
  14. Geliebter, A., Grillot, C. L., Aviram-Friedman, R., Haq, S., Yahav, E., & Hashim, S. A. (2015). Effects of Oatmeal and Corn Flakes Cereal Breakfasts on Satiety, Gastric Emptying, Glucose, and Appetite-Related Hormones. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 66(2–3), 93–103. https://doi.org/10.1159/000365933 

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It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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