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Q
Why Steel Cut Oatmeal?

You advise choosing steel cut or Irish oatmeal over rolled oats. Why? I've read that rolled oats and steel cut oats are the same food, just cut differently. They contain the same amount of fiber. Even rolled oats contain the entire oat grain. Can you explain why you recommend steel cut oats?

A
Answer (Published 3/18/2010)

The difference between rolled and steel cut oats is that while both contain whole grain oats, they are processed differently. Rolled oats are steamed, rolled, steamed again and toasted, ending up as thin flakes. Steel cut oats are made from oat kernels that have been chopped into thick pieces.

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I recommend choosing steel cut (Irish) oats over rolled oats because they digest more slowly than rolled ones. Like all other grains in whole or cracked form, steel cut oats rank lower on the glycemic index than rolled oats. The reason is that it takes longer for digestive enzymes to reach the starch inside the thicker pieces, slowing down its conversion to sugar.

As you probably know, the glycemic index is the measure of how quickly carbohydrate foods affect blood sugar. The higher on the glycemic index a food ranks, the more likely it is to cause spikes in blood sugar that over time can cause genetically susceptible people (many of us) to develop insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood fats, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

You can be pretty sure you're eating a whole grain with a low GI ranking if you have to chew it or can see the grains or pieces of grains in food products. The more your jaw has to work, the better. But when grains are processed, their surface area expands, allowing digestive enzymes easy access to their starch content.

While I recommend steel cut oats, rolled oats are still preferable to instant oatmeal, some brands of which contain partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and colors, or unnecessary amounts of sugar and salt.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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Q & A Library



Q
Why Steel Cut Oatmeal?

You advise choosing steel cut or Irish oatmeal over rolled oats. Why? I've read that rolled oats and steel cut oats are the same food, just cut differently. They contain the same amount of fiber. Even rolled oats contain the entire oat grain. Can you explain why you recommend steel cut oats?

A
Answer (Published 3/18/2010)

The difference between rolled and steel cut oats is that while both contain whole grain oats, they are processed differently. Rolled oats are steamed, rolled, steamed again and toasted, ending up as thin flakes. Steel cut oats are made from oat kernels that have been chopped into thick pieces.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness for Your Healthy Body - It's the journey not the destination. Make each day count, with an outlook that is both serene and inspired. Dr. Weil's new website, SpontaneousHappiness.com, has everything you need to get on the path to optimal well-being including recipes, checklists and exclusive tools to track your walking. Learn more, start your 10-day free trial now.

I recommend choosing steel cut (Irish) oats over rolled oats because they digest more slowly than rolled ones. Like all other grains in whole or cracked form, steel cut oats rank lower on the glycemic index than rolled oats. The reason is that it takes longer for digestive enzymes to reach the starch inside the thicker pieces, slowing down its conversion to sugar.

As you probably know, the glycemic index is the measure of how quickly carbohydrate foods affect blood sugar. The higher on the glycemic index a food ranks, the more likely it is to cause spikes in blood sugar that over time can cause genetically susceptible people (many of us) to develop insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood fats, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

You can be pretty sure you're eating a whole grain with a low GI ranking if you have to chew it or can see the grains or pieces of grains in food products. The more your jaw has to work, the better. But when grains are processed, their surface area expands, allowing digestive enzymes easy access to their starch content.

While I recommend steel cut oats, rolled oats are still preferable to instant oatmeal, some brands of which contain partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and colors, or unnecessary amounts of sugar and salt.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.