Are Oats Healthy?
Mark’s Daily Apple
by Mark Sisson: Does
Eating Red Meat Increase Type 2 Diabetes Risk?
You know how
we say that grains
exist on a spectrum of suitability, from "really bad" wheat to "not
so terrible" rice? Well, what about the rest of 'em? They may be
the most commonly consumed (and thus encountered) grains, but wheat
and rice aren't the only grains on the spectrum. Since I get a lot
of email about oats, I figured they were a good choice for this
post. Besides – though I was (and still mostly am) content to toss
the lot of them on the "do not eat" pile, I think we're better served
by more nuanced positions regarding grains.
Hence, my rice
post. Hence, my post on traditionally
prepared grains. And hence, today's post on oats. Not everyone
can avoid all grains at all times, and not everyone wants to avoid
all grains at all times. For those situations, it makes sense to
have a game plan, a way to "rank" foods.
we'll go over the various incarnations of the oat, along with any
potential nutritional upsides or downsides. But first, what is an
oat is a cereal grain, the seed of a species of grass called Avena
sativa. Its ancient ancestor, Avena sterilis, was native to the
Fertile Crescent in the Near East, but domesticated oats do best
in cool, moist climates like regions of Europe and the United States.
appeared in Swiss caves dated to the Bronze Age, and they remain
a staple food crop in Scotland. The "whole grain" form of an oat
is called a groat (the picture up above depicts whole oat
groats) and is rarely sold as-is, except maybe as horse
feed. Instead, they're sold either as steel-cut, rolled, or instant
oats are whole groats chopped into several pieces. Some
of the bran flakes off, but some is retained. Steel-cut oats take
longer to cook, contain the most nutrients (and antinutrients
like phytic acid), and taste nuttier than conventional oats.
oats are steamed groats that have literally been rolled out and
flattened, with the bran discarded. When most people think
of "oats," they're thinking of rolled oats.
oats are rolled, steamed, and precooked oats. They're essentially
the same as rolled oats, only often accompanied by sugary flavorings
and rendered immediately edible by the addition of hot liquid.
The main problems
with oats are the phytic acid and the avenin, a protein in the prolamine
family (along with gluten from wheat, rye, and barley, and zein,
from corn). As far as phytic acid (or phytate) goes, oats
contain less than corn and brown rice but about the same amount
as wheat. As you know from previous posts, phytate has
the tendency to bind minerals and prevent their absorption. So,
even if a grain is rich in minerals, the presence of phytate prevents
their full absorption. Ingestion is not absorption, remember. As
I understand it, you can, however, reduce or eliminate phytate by
I'm not sure the degree to which phytate can be deactivated, but
study does show that consuming oats that underwent lactic fermentation
resulted in increased iron absorption rather than reduced. Another
claims that simple soaking isn't enough, since oats contain no phytase,
which breaks down phytate. Instead, you'd have to incorporate a
phytase-containing flour to do the work; a couple tablespoons of
buckwheat appear to be an effective choice for that. Combining both
lactic acid bacteria (whey, kefir, or yogurt), companion flour (buckwheat),
water, and a warm room should take care of most of the phytate…
but that's a lot of work!
appears to have some of the same problems as gluten in certain sensitive
individuals, although it doesn't appear as if the problem
is widespread or as
serious. Kids with celiac disease produced
oat avenin antibodies at a higher rate than kids without celiac,
but neither group was on a gluten-free diet. When you put celiacs
on a gluten-free diet, they don't
appear to show higher levels of avenin antibodies. It looks
like once you remove gluten, other, potentially damaging proteins
become far less dangerous. One study did find that some celiacs
"failed" an oats challenge. Celiac patients ate certified gluten-free
oats (quick note: oats are often cross-contaminated with gluten,
so if you're going to experiment with oats, make sure they're certified
gluten-free), and several
showed signs of intestinal permeability, with one patient suffering
all-out villous atrophy, or breakdown of the intestinal
villi. A few out of nineteen patients doesn't sound too bad,
but it shows that there's a potential for cross-reactivity.
the rest of the article
August 19, 2011
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