The Best Type of Oatmeal for Blood Sugar

As mornings are getting cold and crisp many of us want warm breakfasts. Instant oatmeal is filled with sugar and heavily processed. While it might seem like a healthy option, you might as well have a bowl of cereal! But, real oatmeal, rich in fiber and protein, can be a great way to start your day. It’s warm, delicious and fills you up. It starts you off on the right path.

The question then becomes, are rolled oats and steel-cut oats as healthy as each other? Steel-cut oats are the least processed form of oats, while rolled oats have been flattened. How much of a difference does that process make a difference to their nutrition profiles?

Oats have an inedible outer hull, so all oats are somewhat processed. Steel-cut oats are removed from the hull and cut using steel blades into smaller pieces. They take a long time to cook and are chewy with a lot of flavor. Rolled oats are steamed and flattened. They cook faster, taste milder and have a softer texture. Instant oatmeal and quick oatmeal are precooked and dried, making them much faster to cook; they are also usually flavored and have flour added to them.  

Nutritionally, they are almost identical. Steel-cut oats have 150 calories preserving while rolled oats have 140. But, they both have 27 grams of carbs, four grams of fiber, five grams of protein and 2.5 grams of fat. They are both low on the GI scale. Steel-cut oats have a GI score of 53, while rolled are 57. As rolled oats are already slightly “broken down,” it makes sense that they would make blood sugar respond more quickly. But, instant oatmeal is usually around 83, so either is a significantly better choice.

Steel-cut take longer to digest, so they can keep you feeling fuller longer. Their lower GI score may make them more appealing. Rolled oats stay fresh longer.

Steel-cut oats have a slight lead over rolled as far as blood sugar control goes — their ability to keep a person full and their lower GI score are points in their favor. But, in the end, they are nutritionally so close to one another that it really comes down to personal preference. If you watch your portion size, either can be a healthy way to start your day. Because they are high in carbs, they may not be your choice every day. But their fiber and protein levels are excellent, and if you factor the carbohydrates into your day, that doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. Just remember to be careful about toppings. Oatmeal is great, but once you start adding sugar-heavy or fatty toppings, all bets are off!

Banner image: Jocelyn Morales via Unsplash

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