Oatmeal often gets a bad rap as a bland breakfast food for nursing home patients. But what lurks in that boring bowl of porridge is true p-oat-ential. Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidantsPotential health benefits of avenanthramides of oats. Meydani, M. USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts. Nutrition Reviews. 2009 Dec;67(12):731-5., oatmeal is a high-fiber morning meal that’s been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels, aid with digestion, and improve metabolismCan dietary oats promote health? Welch, RW, Human Nutrition Research Group, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK. British Journal of biomedical science, 1994 Sep;51(3):260-70.. Basically, it’s a versatile superfood that’s ready to come out of retirement.

An Oat-standing Grain — What it is

Oatmeal is made of oat grains and contains soluble fiber which helps lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart diseaseCholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan. Othman, RA., Moghadasian, MH., Jones, PJ. Department of Human Nutritional Sciences and Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, Department of Food Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Nutrition Reviews 2011 Jun;69(6):299-309.. Its high-fiber count helps prolong feelings of fullness (here’s more fiber-rich foods) and increase energy levels. Plus one serving can pack about 4 grams of fiber (whole-y bowl-y!). Although oatmeal is most commonly consumed as a hot cereal, it can be eaten cold or turned into a delectable dessert (oatmeal crème brulee anyone?). An 18 ounce box of rolled oats has a long shelf life and is relatively cheap (only about 15 cents per serving), which helps keep oatmeal enthusiasts slim while leaving their piggy banks fat.

Rock the Oat, Baby — What It Means to You

There are plenty of ways to pump up a simple bowl of oatmeal: throw in a few nuts, fruits, or almond butter. And top it off with cinnamon, honey, or even a little whey protein. We suggest purchasing plain over presweetened oatmeal and save big on sugar and calories. Because it’s packed with fiber, low in cost, and easy to prepare, oatmeal might just be the best thing since sliced bread (unless, of course, you’re going carb-free). Photo by John Chock