January is oatmeal month and while many of us may be turned off by the bland color and pasty consistency of it in our cereal bowl, we compel ourselves to eat it because we know how good it is for us. And it is.
Oats are loaded with B vitamins, minerals and soluble fiber so it is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat. The fiber in oatmeal comes from a soluble fiber known as beta-glucans which improves our immune function and helps to keep harmful bacteria at bay, something to be mindful of this time of year. It also contains an antioxidant called avenanthramides which is unique to oats and helps to combat inflammation, which has been linked to obesity, cancer and heart disease.
Studies have also shown that it may aid in lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes. Eating a mere three grams of oat fiber a day can lower total cholesterol by up to 20 percent. The most popular toppings we like on our oatmeal include brown sugar, milk, raisins and bananas. But if you are the daring type and prefer something a bit more exotic how about topping it with eggnog, peanut butter or cottage cheese? While those wouldn’t be my first choice of toppings on my oatmeal, adding a little maple syrup is delicious and swirling some strawberry jam into it turns ordinary oatmeal into something special.
Of course, if you don’t like the idea of eating oatmeal for breakfast you can always whip up a batch of oatmeal cookies for a no-guilt, heart-healthy treat.
Oats have stood the test of time and have been a part of our diet since 7000 B.C. The Greeks and Romans wrote about its ability to heal and soothe skin in their medical literature. Oats is used by the cosmetic industry for its soothing anti-itch properties. The Aveeno brand we see in stores uses oatmeal for their body and hand lotions; the name comes from Avena, which is the botanical name for oats.
So rejoice in the possibilities and celebrate oatmeal month because when you think about it how many foods can you eat and wear.