Oatmeal and Diabetes
Oatmeal is a delicious breakfast option, and there are speculations that it may be particularly beneficial to people with diabetes. Aside from that, the intake of oats has been linked to better cardiovascular health, including a lower risk of heart disease.
While heart health is essential for diabetes, there’s constant debate on whether that’s enough reason to warrant oatmeal consumption in diabetics? Would oatmeal mess with your blood sugar levels? Here’s everything you should know about oatmeal and heart health.
Nutritional Contents of Oatmeal
According to the USDA, there are 386 calories in a 3.5 oz serving of oatmeal. That’s quite huge! However, when you consider its impressive 11.67 g protein content and its 10 g of fiber, you might think otherwise.
Still, oatmeal packs a staggering 63.33 g of carbs and 11.67 g of fats. While these are unusually high figures, oatmeal derived from rolled oats has a surprisingly moderate glycemic index (GI) of 55, meaning it’s less likely to cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. On the contrary, instant oatmeal boasts a high GI of 79, meaning you should consume it in very minimal portions.
Health Benefits of Oatmeal for Diabetes
Despite being a high-carb meal, oatmeal presents various benefits to people with diabetes, including the following:
Reduces Blood Sugar
Oats are unique in that they contain beta-glucans — a type of fiber. In persons with diabetes, the intake of beta-glucans is linked to lower blood glucose levels, especially when taken in smaller amounts for extended periods. While this may not sustain low blood sugar levels on its own, it could be a valuable adjunct to existing healthy treatment methods.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Consuming oats throughout the day can improve insulin sensitivity. According to a meta-analysis, people with type 2 diabetes who ate oatmeal had a better glucose and insulin response than those who didn't. In another study, adults with type 2 diabetes who fed oats and oat bran for six weeks had “significant” reductions in their 24-hour blood sugar counts and total insulin levels.
Oats contain avenanthramide, an anti-inflammatory chemical that may help prevent diabetes-related inflammation and disease development. Over eight weeks, researchers discovered anti-inflammatory benefits in 22 persons with type 2 diabetes who consumed an oat-enriched diet. Namely, they noted a reduced level of platelet-associated microparticles — a prominent marker of inflammation.
Rich in Fiber
Fiber is particularly beneficial to diabetes patients since it helps them stay full for long, eliminating the need for constant snacking — a plus towards weight loss. According to the American Diabetes Foundation, adults should consume at least 25–30 g of fiber each day, although the average US adult takes in just 15 g daily. With a 3.5 oz serving of oatmeal yielding a whopping 10 g of fiber, meeting your recommended daily intake might just be easier.
Risks of Oatmeal for diabetes
While oatmeal is undoubtedly beneficial for diabetes management, some downsides are associated with the constant intake of this popular breakfast food. The following section presents some of these risks.
Risk of High Sugar Intake
Many people prefer sweetened oats. They enjoy adding sugar and other sweet ingredients to their oatmeal, which reduces the nutritional value of the food by adding more calories, carbs, sugar, and fat. Sadly, this can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Hence, when consuming oatmeal as a diabetic, it’s advised you do away with all of the sweet stuff.
May Cause Bloating
Oats contain lots of fiber, carbs, and glucose, which may produce gas and a bloated stomach when broken down by the bacteria in the large intestine. If you’re new to oats, start with a tiny dose and gradually raise your intake to the desired level to minimize the adverse effects.
May Lead to Weight Gain
Since oatmeal is relatively high in calories, eating too much at a go without engaging in regular exercise may result in weight gain, which is detrimental to diabetic management. Hence, it’s essential you regulate your oats consumption and constantly watch your weight.
May Cause Loss of Muscular Mass
Though oatmeal is thought to aid weight loss, eating too much might result in malnutrition and muscle loss. Because it has a high fiber content which keeps you fuller for longer, oatmeal, in excessive amounts, may disrupt signals that would typically alert you to eat more throughout the day. The result of this in the long term is a loss of muscular mass, which is also not ideal for a diabetic.
Cooking procedures have a role to play in oatmeal’s health benefits — the longer it takes to cook your oats, the better they are for you. Although properly prepared oats take a bit longer, the potential benefits for type 2 diabetes, such as improved blood sugar control and weight management, are worth the extra effort. Also, it’s essential to avoid adding excess sugar to your oatmeal before consumption.
- Protein 16 g
- Carbohydrate 67 g
- Fat 6 g
- Fiber 9.8 g
- Sugar 1 g
- Cholesterol 0 g
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