Oats ~ Super Grains
What better way to gain the strength and energy to carry you through a hectic morning schedule than with a steaming bowl of freshly cooked oatmeal.
These super grains are harvested in the fall but are available throughout the year and can add extra nutrition to a variety of healthy dishes.
Known scientifically as Avena sativa, these are a hardy cereal grain able to withstand poor soil conditions in which other crops are unable to thrive.
These super grains gain part of their distinctive flavor from the roasting process that they undergo after being harvested and cleaned.
Although they're then hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and germ allowing them to retain a concentrated source of their fiber and nutrients.
Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
A steaming bowl of fresh cooked meal is the perfect way to start off your day, especially if you're trying to prevent or are currently dealing with heart disease or diabetes.
Oats, bran, and meal contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan.
Since 1963, study after study has proven the beneficial effects of this special fiber on cholesterol levels.
Studies show that in individuals with high cholesterol (above 220 mg/dl), consuming just 3 g. of soluble fiber per day (an amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%.
This is highly significant since each 1% drop in serum cholesterol translates to a 2% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease.
High cholesterol levels correlate with the build up of plaques in blood vessel walls.
If these plaques become damaged or simply grow too large, they can rupture, blocking a blood vessel and causing a heart attack, stroke, or blood clots elsewhere in the body.
Lowering high cholesterol levels can therefore significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
This super grain, via it's high fiber content, are already known to help remove cholesterol from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream.
Now, the latest research suggests they may have another cardio-protective mechanism.
Antioxidant compounds unique to this super grain, called avenanthramides, help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Enhance Immune Response to Infection
In laboratory studies, beta-glucan significantly enhanced the human immune system's response to bacterial infection.
Beta-glucan not only helps neutrophils (the most abundant type of non-specific immune cell) navigate to the site of an infection more quickly, it also enhances their ability to eliminate the bacteria they find there.
Priming neutrophils with beta-glucan helps these immune
defenders quickly locate the bacterial mother lode within infected tissue.
And this more rapid response to infection results in faster microbial clearance and healing.
Since our non-specific immune defenses are the body's first strike forces against invading pathogens, starting your day with a bowl of this super grain may boost your immune response in addition to your morning energy levels.
Stabilize Your Blood Sugar
Studies also show that beta-glucan has beneficial effects in diabetes as well.
Type 2 diabetes patients given foods high in this type of super grain fiber experienced much lower rises in blood sugar compared to those who were given white rice or bread.
Starting out your day with a blood sugar stabilizing food may make it easier to keep blood sugar levels under control the rest of the day, especially when the rest of your day is also supported with nourishing fiber-rich foods.
In addition to its fiber benefits, these grains are also a very good source of selenium.
A necessary cofactor of the important antioxidant, glutathione peroxidase, selenium works with vitamin-E in numerous vital antioxidant systems throughout the body.
These powerful antioxidant actions make selenium helpful in decreasing asthma symptoms and in the prevention of heart disease.
In addition, selenium is involved in
repair and is associated with a reduced risk for cancer, especially colon cancer.
Cereal & Fruit Fiber Protective against Postmenopausal Breast Cancer
Results of a prospective study involving 51,823 postmenopausal women for an average of 8.3 years showed a 34% reduction in breast cancer risk for those consuming the most fruit fiber compared to those consuming the least.
In addition, in the subgroup of women who had ever used hormone replacement, those consuming the most fiber, especially cereal fiber, had a 50% reduction in their risk of breast cancer compared to those consuming the least.
Fruits richest in fiber include apples, dates, figs, pears and prunes.
When choosing a high fiber cereal, look for whole grain cereals as they supply the most bran (a mere 1/3rd c. of bran contains about 14 g. of fiber).
A cup of oatmeal delivers 15% of the RDA for fiber.
Start out your day with a bowl of this hot cereal grain or if you prefer cold cereal, try granola, and you'll be well on your way to meeting your daily RDA for fiber.
A Well-tolerated Wheat Alternative for Children & Adults with Celiac Disease
Although treatment of celiac disease has been thought to require lifelong avoidance of the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley and this particular super grain, recent studies of adults have shown that this grain, despite the small amount of gluten it contains, is actually well-tolerated.
Now, a double blind, multi-center study involving 8 clinics treating 116 children newly diagnosed celiac disease suggests that these super grains are a good choice for children with celiac disease as well.
The children were randomly assigned to receive either the standard gluten-free diet (no wheat, barley, rye or oats) or a gluten-free diet with some wheat-free products.
At the end of the study, which ran for a year, all the children were doing well, and in both groups, the mucosal lining of the small bowel (which is damaged by wheat gluten in celiac disease) had healed and the immune system (which is excessively reactive in celiac patients) had returned to normal.
The modern super grain draws its ancestry from the wild, red-oat, a plant originating in Asia.
They've been cultivated for two thousand years in various regions throughout the world.
Before being consumed as a food, they were used for medicinal purposes, a use for which they are still honored.
The growing of this super grain in Europe was widespread, and constituted an important commercial crop since they were a dietary staple for the people of many countries including Scotland, Great Britain, Germany and the Scandinavian countries.
In the early 17th century, Scottish settlers brought this grain to North America.
Today, the largest commercial producers include the Russian Federation, the United States, Germany, Poland and Finland.
How to Select & Store
Buy small quantities at one time since this super grain has a slightly higher fat content than other grains and will go rancid more quickly.
They're generally available in pre-packaged containers as well as bulk bins.
Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins are covered, free from debris, and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness.
Smell them to make sure they're fresh.
Whether purchasing in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there's no evidence of moisture.
If you purchase prepared products, look at the ingredients to ensure that the product does not contain any salt, sugar or other additives.
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they'll keep for approximately two months.
Tips for Cooking:
Different types require slightly different cooking methods for making hot cereal or porridge.
For all types, it's best to add to cold water and then cook at a simmer.
The preparation of rolled and steel-cut require similar proportions using two parts water to one part super grain.
Rolled-oats take approximately 15 minutes to cook while the steel-cut variety take about 30 minutes.
Due to their consistency, oat-groats require more time and more water.
Use three parts water to one part groats and simmer for approximately 50 minutes.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
A great way to start your day-add your favorite nuts and fruits to a piping hot bowl of this grain cereal.
Cookies are a favorite for kids of all ages.
Add oat-flour or whole oats the next time you make bread or muffins.
Sprinkle the bran on your hot or cold cereal.
The groats make a great basis for stuffing for poultry.
So now you're probably wondering about a great recipe utilizing this super grain.
Might we suggest;
Serve this Scandinavian cereal with low-fat yogurt or nonfat milk to start your day off with whole grains and some protein and calcium-rich dairy.
You can substitute any combination of chopped dried or fresh fruit for the raisins, apricots, apples, figs, cherries or cranberries would all be delicious.
Try walnuts or hazelnuts instead of the almonds if you like.
Ground flaxseeds stirred in at the end provide a boost of heart-healthy omega-3s.
8 servings, about 1/2 c. each
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 1/2 hours (including cooling time)
2 c. old-fashioned or quick-cooking (not instant) rolled oats
2/3 c. rye flakes, or wheat flakes (see Note)
1/3 c. coarsely chopped almonds, (1 3/4 ounces)
2 Tbs. flaked coconut, (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 c. raisins
2 Tbs. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of cinnamon
1/4 c. flaxseeds, ground (optional; see Tip)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Spread oats and rye (or wheat) flakes on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Stir in almonds and coconut; bake until the oats are fragrant,
about 8 minutes.
Turn off the oven.
Stir raisins into the muesli.
Microwave honey for 10 seconds in a glass measuring cup.
Stir in vanilla and cinnamon; drizzle over the muesli and stir to coat.
Return the muesli to the turned-off warm oven and let cool completely, about 2 hours.
Stir in flaxseeds, if using.
Tips & Notes:
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Note: Rye or wheat flakes are simply rye or wheat kernels that have been steamed and rolled, oatmeal-style.
Look for them in natural-foods stores.
Tip: Grind flaxseeds in a clean coffee grinder or dry blender just before using.
Per serving: 196 calories;
5 g. fat ( 1 g. sat , 2 g. mono );
0 mg. cholesterol;
34 g. carbohydrates;
6 g. protein;
5 g. fiber;
6 mg. sodium;
209 mg. potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Fiber (18% daily value).
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