Oatmeal is a good morning “snack” made of oat, like many of its cousins, it is derived from grains. Although it is a food rich in other nutrients, oatmeal is a carbohydrate-based meal. Carbohydrates and diabetes don’t go so well. This is because of the sugar spikes that carbohydrates cause. Oatmeal may stand out amongst other cereals for its high and rich fibre content. What do the experts have to say about the safety of oatmeal for diabetic patients?
How is Oatmeal made?
Oatmeal is made from oats, Avena Sativa, which are mostly cultivated for livestock feed. There are a variety of ways to prepare oats, the method used to prepare them would determine the texture and amount of time needed to prepare oatmeal.
People prepare Oatmeal in the following steps:
- Pure oat grains into heated water or milk
- Cook for about 5 minutes
- Remove from heat and let it stand for 2 to 3 minutes.
Different flavorings, also called add-ins you could add to alter the taste of the oatmeal-like cinnamons, raisins, cranberries, fruits like banana, etc. However, if you’re diabetic, then watching what goes into your oatmeals is quite important. You do not want to add anything like sugar.
How Much Sugar is in Oatmeals?
When you have high blood sugar, regulate the amount of sugar you are taking. While oatmeal is a great quick nutritious meal, Patients would diabetes need to know how much sugar boost they are getting from oatmeal. As I already stated, Oatmeal belongs to the “house” of grains. Grains are mostly a rich source of carbohydrates, and if stripped of their fibre, they become simple sugar which is absorbed quickly and could cause glucose spikes in the bloodstream.
Therefore, the nutritional value and amount of sugar in oats largely depend on the oats. The type of oats you’re eating. Processed oats may have a similar nutrient value as natural oats but natural oats confer an advantage. Natural oats take longer to digest, hence, have a lower glycemic index
Dry oats are old-fashioned oats, they have undergone little processing and hence keep their original bulk and integrity. Since they still contain lots of fibre, they are rich in good carbohydrates that would be beneficial to diabetic patients as they have gone minimal processing. Using a regular cup as measurement, one cup would contain;
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Note: This figure does not include the nutritional value of oats cooked in water or mixed with milk.
Quick or Instant Oats
They are oats rolled and steamed into flatter pieces, and have passed through more processing which strips them of a small portion of their nutrients. This group of oatmeal take lesser time to prepare, hence the name. However, there is a catch. Quick or Instant oats have less fibre which makes the delivery of sugar into the bloodstream much quicker. So technically, the quick or instant oats can spike up your blood sugar.
Steel-cut or Irish Oats
Steel-cut oats are oat groats cut into halves by steel blades, hence the name steel-cut oats. They are usually very coarse as they have gone through very little processing. For those looking to minimize their intake of sugar and wish to improve their overall health, steel-cut or Irish oats are the best options. Steel-cut oats are a rich source of many vital micro-nutrients for the body. Some important nutrients gotten from whole grain oats include Vitamins, Antioxidants, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, etc.
Does Oatmeal Affect Blood Sugar?
Oat Meal is suitable for People with High blood sugar depending on the oatmeal you are taking. If you are diabetic or someone with high blood sugar, you’d have to be cautious of the type of oatmeal, the nutritional value especially the quantity of sugar and other sweeteners.
The sugar boost of oatmeal depends on the person and varies between people. The same amount of oatmeal may not have any significant effect in person A but would have in Person B. So first you need to know how your body reacts to certain types of food.
Is Oatmeal Good for Pre-diabetic patients?
For Pre-diabetic patients, it is best to minimize how much oatmeal you take at a time and also avoid the oatmeal that increases sugar levels in the bloodstream. Diabetes is a disease caused by hyperglycemia because of excess sugar in the blood. It triggered diabetes when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin in the bloodstream or doesn’t know what to do with the available insulin hormones in the bloodstream.
It is very important to regulate how many carbs you send into your bloodstream. Oatmeal has a lot of fibre and this reduces the speed at which the body absorbs the carbs. For a pre-diabetic patient, oatmeal may be a conducive alternative. Aside from the rich fibre, oatmeal also offers a lot of other nutritional benefits. We would talk about them below.
Oats and Diabetes: are oatmeal good for Diabetic patients?
Given that oats are cereal and naturally have a high content of carbohydrates, it would be easy to claim that they can cause diabetes. However, foods that trigger the progression of diabetes are often rich in processed sugars and not exactly carbohydrates. You might say that “carbohydrates are sugars”, well, yes you’re right.
All carbohydrates are sugars but some sugars are more complex than others. Let’s take glucose, for example, it is a very simple sugar and is the end product of carbohydrates after digestion in the body. Compared to sugars found in unprocessed grains glucose is a very simple carbohydrate.
Unlike processed sugars, oats are a form of very complex sugar with components like fibre that make access to this sugar very difficult. Diabetes is a disorder that affects the flow of energy from food to the body cells.
Can Oatmeal cause diabetes?
When we eat food, the food is broken down into sugar (glucose) and absorbed into the bloodstream. The sugar added to the bloodstream triggers the pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin guides the excess sugar in the bloodstream into the body cells and is used to carry out cellular activities.
Diabetes interferes with regulating blood sugar in the blood. This leaves excess sugar in the bloodstream which leads to other diseases. Oatmeal contains a lot of carbohydrates, however, could it cause diabetes? First, it depends on the type of oatmeal you are taking. Excessively consuming instant or quick oatmeal would cause a spike of sugar in the blood. If you already have a high blood sugar condition, eating quick oats would increase the chances of developing diabetes.
On the other hand, old-fashioned oats, and other types of oats that have not been overly processed and sweetened are not known to excessively causing spikes in blood sugars.
Accessing the risk of oatmeal in diabetes
Oatmeal is rich in dietary fibres. Dietary fibres are known to promote laxation, and reduction in blood lipids, and are famously known for their regulation of blood glucose. To top it up, Oatmeal contains a special kind of fibre called Beta-glucans. These glucan fibres have been considered to be a bioactive component in improving insulin sensitivity which in turn maintains the glycemic index of the blood.
Does oatmeal increase the risk of getting diabetes?
We get sugar from the food we eat; hence all food causes a spike in sugar levels. However, some food causes sugar levels to increase beyond normal. Foods containing lots of carbohydrates cause blood sugar spikes the most. For example, bread, rice, fruits, and sugar are all great sources of carbohydrates. Oatmeal is also rich in carbohydrates but it contains a good kind of carbohydrates.
What do experts have to say, is oatmeal good for diabetics?
A review of multiple studies on the effects of oatmeal on body and sugar levels has identified similar results in all the studies. A paper published in the PubMed Central journal established similarities between multiple independent studies concerning the health benefits of eating oatmeal. The people used in the study were all diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
The studies reviewed compared Fasting sugar levels, blood sugar levels after eating oatmeal and other meals, lipid-protein profile, insulin, and body weight index. Some studies reviewed showed an improvement in the levels of fasting blood glucose, there was a reduction in the fasting blood glucose levels of the type 2 patients. To confirm this discovery, another set of type 2 diabetes patients called the control group were not given oatmeal. It was observed that the control group showed no sign of fasting glucose reduction.
The review also established oatmeal has a great effect on insulin response in patients with type 2 diabetes. This meant that Type 2 diabetes need not worry about a glucose spike since the oats are doing a good job of keeping them regulated. A special Fibre stimulates insulin sensitivity which consequently allows sugar to be used in the bloodstream.
Oatmeal recipes for diabetic patients
Oatmeal is awesome even as a standalone meal but it can be made even better. For people with diabetes who want to enrich the flavors of their oatmeals, there is a wide range of options for you. You can eat awesome oatmeal and still be healthy. Here are some great oatmeal recipes for folks with diabetes from Eatingwell.
Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats
This recipe is a thick mix of oat, cream, milk, and some vegetable. You would add the Cinnamon powder to the mix to give it a cinnamon flavor. Depending on the severity of your diabetes, it is important to take the doctor-recommended amount of sugar. The original recipe contains 8 tablespoons of sugar but you can reduce it to fit your health management routine. Cinnamon is a great source of antioxidants which are active agents that help reduce the risk of heart diseases. Cinnamon added to oat is very good for diabetic patients who need a healthy, quick snack.
- 2 1/2 cups dry oats or old-fashioned rolled oats.
- 2 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
- (optional) 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- (optional) 1/4 teaspoon salt.
2 Baked Banana-Nut Oatmeal Cups
The baked banana oat cups are great oat-based muffins with delicious chunks of ripe banana. Other ingredients include fresh fruits, low-fat dairy milk, lean proteins, etc. For people with diabetes, this oatmeal recipe is a great morning meal. It is very rich in minerals which are vital nutrients in maintaining the proper balance of hormones in the bloodstream.
Banana is also a great source of vitamins and essential minerals that keep the body healthy. Adding Bananas to oat increases the amount of good fibre and other antioxidants present in the meal. People with diabetes would find this very helpful as some nutrients like fibre can help stimulate insulin sensitivity.
- 3 cups, divided Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups nonfat milk
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, plus 2 teaspoons for oiling pan
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg white
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 cup mashed very ripe banana
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup chopped pecans
3 Savory oatmeal with Tomato & Sausage
This is an intense vegan meal. If you like the taste of greens then you would love the savoury oatmeal with tomato and sausage. The tomato gives it a refreshing look and juicy taste. Tomatoes in this recipe are a major source of lycopene. Lycopene is an important antioxidant that plays an important role in reducing the risk of heart diseases and even cancer. Cinnamon also contributes to the army of nutrients of this dish.
- 1/3 cup Bacon strips
- 2 tsp Added black beans, no-sodium
- 1/2 cup Baby arugula, packed
- 1/2 cup Grape tomatoes
- 1 Lemon, large wedge
- 1/2 cup Rolled oats, old-fashioned
- 1 cup Vegetable broth, low-sodium
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 1/2 oz Vanilla cake mix, organic
- 1 tbsp Pine nuts
4 PB & J Oats
PB & J oats are nut-based oatmeal. If you would love a protein-rich breakfast flavored with strawberries and vanilla, then this is the go-to breakfast snack. It’s easy and quick to prepare. For folks with diabetes, it is best you use non-sugary alternatives of some ingredients like jelly. Also, make sure to not use the sweetened milk.
- ⅔ cup rolled oats
- ⅔ cup milk of your choice (unsweetened for diabetic patients)
- ½ cup vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon strawberry jam (leave out if you are diabetic, or get an unsugary type)
- 3 tablespoons of nut butter. If you’re watching your body weight.
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon chia seed
- Strawberry (optional)
Benefits of oatmeal for diabetes
Scientists and nutritionists are in favour of oatmeal over other cereals since it has minimal effect on blood sugar levels. Aside from being easy to prepare and not triggering a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, oat has other health benefits- especially for diabetic patients or people that are pre-diabetic.
Low glycemic index
Digested food is absorbed into the bloodstream at different rates which depend on the time to break down the food materials. In the human body, food- carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugar, glucose.
The rate at which the body absorbs glucose rich-foods like rice and other grains can be estimated using the glycemic index (GI). Oatmeal contains a lot of soluble fibre which needs to be broken down before being absorbed into the bloodstream. This sluggish breakdown of fibre in oats delays the release of sugar barely affecting the sugar balance of the bloodstream.
Hence, Oatmeal are food with a low glycemic index (GI). It is noteworthy that oatmeal with added sugar has a high GI. Also, the type of oats ingested may affect the glycemic index.
Rich in fibre
As mentioned before, oats are cereal foods and have a rich fibre content. For people with diabetes, fibres may reduce the absorption of sugar into the body. Studies have shown soluble fibre to lower the number of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) which are a type of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol may have bad effects when consumed indiscriminately. Aside, from the benefits that fibre gives to people with diabetes, it has been discovered to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease mortality.
Oatmeal isn’t easily digested, thanks to the high fibre content. Hence, it can be retained in the digestive tract much longer, this gives a feeling of satisfaction and would help prevent a diabetic patient from eating frequently, especially after breakfast.
May lower blood sugar
Oatmeal takes a while to digest, so the body would burn sugar faster than it absorbs from the digestive tract. The slow-paced absorption of sugar reduces the amount of sugar in the body. This is one reason oatmeal is said to lower the glycemic index. While oats may lower the GI, it is important to be aware of the body’s blood sugar. A diabetic patient who has blood sugar levels of 140mg/DL 1-2 hours after eating oatmeal is not advised to carry on with the diet.
Another reason oat is great for lowering blood sugar is because of a certain type of fibre found in them. Beta-glucans are glucose polysaccharides found in oat. We would discuss beta-glucans below.
People who eat more oatmeal were observed to live a healthy lifestyle. Studies published in the journal Nutrition Research made stunning observations where they found that oatmeal eaters were less likely to engage in unhealthy habits like smoking and heavy alcoholism.
The researchers also said that the oatmeal eaters had better diets. With its nutritional contents, eating oatmeal would provide great nutrients like protein, vitamins and some minerals like potassium, calcium, etc.
Because of the addition of oats to a healthy diet, regular oat eaters were discovered to have a lower body mass index (BMI) which is a marker for good health. Regular eaters of oatmeal are known to add other foods like milk and fruits, these have their own nutritional and health benefits.
Great Source of Beta-Glucans
Beta-Glucans also depicted as β-Glucans are a group of water-soluble dietary fibres usually gotten from oats, yeast, algae, etc. Beta-glucan is a long chain of glucose joined by β- (1→4) and β- (1→3) glycosidic bonds. Because of the beta-glucans found in oats, they are considered the most healthy and nutritious member of the cereal family.
Oats found in oats have something unique that is not usually seen in other forms of cereals. The Beta-glucans found in oats are water-soluble while those found in glucan sources like cellulose have a slightly different molecular arrangement. This arrangement makes them insoluble in water and indigestible by the human digestive system.
Benefits of Beta-Glucans
Beta-glucans were discovered to have cholesterol-lowering properties which could reduce the effects of metabolic syndrome, and be helpful to people with metabolic deficiencies. Health practitioners recommended oat to be a great meal for breakfast. Regarding heart-related disease, we could recommend oat as a substitute meal since scientists have proven it to lower the level of low-density lipoproteins in the blood.
Governing agencies like the European Society of Cardiology, and the US National Cholesterol Education Program, support the role of oat beta-glucan, and specifically its viscosity in lowering blood cholesterol levels.
Is Eating Oatmeal Everyday Good For Diabetes?
While oatmeal offers a lot of health benefits, it may not be wise to take it every day. However, if you are on a very strict diet, and constantly monitor your sugar levels, oatmeal may be good for you. First, monitor your blood sugar levels after eating a serving of oat. If the increase is not a threat to your sugar levels, then you can eat it regularly. Most importantly, always consult with your doctor to make sure you are taking making the right decisions. Oats are really great if you’re looking to reduce your weight.
Oatmeal is can be classified as one of those breakfast foods that are good for you. They are easy and fast to prepare and can be modified into a variety of flavors to suit your taste. Oatmeals are a remarkable food and offer a lot of health and nutritious benefits to the eaters. There is ample evidence that supports the many benefits of eating oatmeal regularly.
Oatmeal has been established to be a healthy alternative for people with diabetes. Eating oatmeal isn’t just a great breakfast, lots of scientists agree that oat is very good for people with diabetes.