HealingThruFood | Oatmeal-Steel Cut vs. Rolled-The Debate
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Oatmeal-Steel Cut vs. Rolled-The Debate

Oatmeal. It’s been around since back in the day and it used to be called porridge. This was the food of peasants in Scotland and Ireland. But we can thank these people for introducing us to an amazing breakfast food!  With the rise of diseases and conditions such as colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol, replacing your Frosted Mini Wheats for a bowl of good old fashioned Irish oats, can be a very preventativley tasty idea!

Oats are a good source of whole grains and make a great choice for starting your day. The main difference between steel cut versus rolled is the processing. Now, any of you who follow me know that I like to promote foods that are least (or not at all) processed…so, in my heart of hearts, I believe that the steel cut version of oats is better for you. Here is another reason why: they take longer to digest than rolled oats because they are denser, so this causes less of a spike in your glucose levels. They make you feel full longer.

Rolled oats are also steamed a bit to make the cook time faster, and so this adds one point, in my opinion to the steel cut side. Again, this is a form of processing, and I feel that less processed=better for you.

True, oats are oats are oats…it’s the same grain. It is just cut and processed a bit differently. Taste wise, steel cut oats have a bit more of a nutty taste than traditional flat rolled oats. They both contain pretty decent amounts of fiber (about 2 gms in 1/2 cup), protein (about 7 gms in 1/2 cup), iron (about 10 gms in 1/2 cup), contain zero cholesterol and are low GI, meaning they have little sugar.

Steel cut oats do take a bit more time to cook, as you ‘should’ soak them overnight (most all grains should be rinsed well and soaked in water to remove all the phytates-it makes them easier to digest if they are cleaned well).  This bit is from www.suegregg.com and explains it quite nicely:

Soaking, fermenting, or sprouting the grain before cooking or baking will neutralize a large portion of the phytic acid, releasing these nutrients for absorption. This process allows enzymes, lactobacilli, and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break downcomplex starches, irritating tannins, and difficult-to-digest proteins including gluten. For many, this may lessen their sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular grains. Everyone will benefit, nevertheless, from the release of nutrients and greater ease of digestion.

So, what I recommend is rinsing and soaking your steel cuts over night in a small rice cooker. Then you can press start in the morning and your breakfast will be ready when you are done getting ready for work! You can add a natural sweetener such as agave before or I personally love to add a little nutmeg and cinnamon. You can also add fresh fruit such as blueberries, cranberries, or even add nuts such as walnuts or almonds. It also makes such a great on-the-go breakfast for working folks or even college students! There is absolutely NO reason why anyone could not do this. It’s simple, tasty, hearty and you will get so much more out of your day if you start off balanced.  I recommend Heidi Swanson’s amazing cookbook called Super Natural Cooking (http://www.101cookbooks.com/supernatural/ as it has 7 ways to do steel cut oats.

I hear from a lot of people that breakfast is not a priority and they would love it to be, so take this tip to heart because it will take care of your heart (and your waistline, and your mood and your colon…and you get my point, right?).

Soaking, fermenting, or sprouting the grain before cooking or baking will neutralize a large portion
of the phytic acid, releasing these nutrients for absorption. This process allows enzymes, lactobacilli,
and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down
complex starches, irritating tannins, and difficult-to-digest proteins including gluten. For many, this
may lessen their sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular grains. Everyone will benefit, nevertheless,
from the release of nutrients and greater ease of digestion.
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  • rolem

    “I believe that the steel cut version of oats is better for you.”

    Nutrition should be based on science and facts, not belief. Please do your research.
    Also I agree that less processed food is generally  ”preferable” but in this case their are NO significant nutritional differences between the different ways of processing oats,i.e. rolled or steel cut.

    Please do your research.

  • Healingthrufood

    Hi Rolem, 

    True, rolled and steel cut oats are pretty darned similar, but…even if the processing is slight, rolled oats are still processed so if anyone is searching for the “most nutritional” form of oatmeal (even slightly), then I stand firm in stating that steel cut oats are slightly better for you. Also, steel cuts have a lower glycemic index (40 vs. 50): http://steelcutoats.org/steel-cut-oats/steel-cut-oats-and-the-glycemic-index

    Thanks,
     HTF 

  • carina

    Here is a great break down of scientific facts as to why steel cut is better. There is in deed a nutritional difference.
    ttp://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400705/Why-Steel-Cut-Oatmeal.html
    Hope that helps.

  • Healingthrufood

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Carina! :)