Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of your first meal of the day?
Breakfast…..it is often said to be the most important meal you eat so what do you usually have?
Something out of a colourful “buy me” style box ……..or………something low GI and with a decent whack of protein to top you up after a great workout and will also help get you through the morning without having to resort to some empty sugary, and maybe even fatty snack.
Are you aware that most of these so called “breakfast of champions” cereals that are all processed in a factory are up to one third sugar and have a salt content above the recommended daily requirement. That’s what the new analysis shows and health groups are now calling for clearer labelling.
In winter I tend to go for oats most mornings. Just like thousands of other people who know what’s good for their bodies.
Do you remember that Castrol ad on TV some twenty odd years ago with the punch line “oils ain’t oils”? Well let me tell you something……a lot of “oats ain’t oats” either.
They are what I call serious ‘Cereal Offenders’ (even though oats are grains).
Generally speaking oats are very good for you but you really need to AVOID all of those instant and quick sachet styles with all sorts of nasty additives that seem to take up most of the shelf space and visually grab at you as you idle past. I am sure you know the ones I mean…….just add hot water and you are good to go.
But unfortunately your engine won’t go for very long. You will conk out an hour or so later.
These instant styles of flavoured oats have loads of added sugar and salt, all sorts of enticing (read bad for you) added unnatural flavourings and are highly processed when compared to real oats which all adds up to making them high glycemic to boot.
So in other words, what is really happening here, it shoots up your insulin, priming your body for fat storage…….not what you want after working out so hard to get rid of the fat in the first place.
And the other thing happening is a blood sugar plunge an hour or so later which in turn triggers insatiable hunger pangs which has you reaching for one of those “I know I shouldn’t be eating this” type snacks.
The George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation with no commercial interests or advertising have a site totally devoted to the world’s healthiest foods. Here is a snippet about what they have to say about Oats: “What better way to gain the strength and energy to carry you through a hectic morning schedule than with a steaming bowl of freshly cooked oatmeal.”
So there you have it straight from the horse’s mouth…….start your day with some REAL Oats!
So from what my research (and my own body) tells me, here is the list of best for you to worst and it looks something like this:
Steel Cut Oats:
These are my favourite. The oat grain, which is called a groat, is chopped into three or four pieces. They take a while to digest (and cook) so will keep you going until lunchtime and have a really nice nutty taste.
I find if you soak them in a cup of warm water for an hour or two (or even overnight) they will cook in 10 minutes or so.
These have minimal processing – are rolled but have not been steamed as all other rolled oats have leaving the beneficial enzymes alive and the product in a more delicate state. I found for you an excellent description on the GoodFood site headed “Unstabilised oats: what are they?”
Here is part of what they had to say: “When oats are processed, however, lipase makes the oats go rancid.
Neither harmful nor appetising. Stabilised oats are steamed when they are processed to knock out lipase to extend their shelf life. Unstabilized oats have not been subjected to the steam treatment and last about three months.
Proponents of unstabilized oats maintain they are better for you and recommend they are kept in the fridge to retard the onset of rancidity.” I use these oats sometimes and have never had a problem with rancidity.
Plain old rolled oats (whole grain) or sometimes called Old Fashion oats:
These are rolled just the same as the unstabilized oats, but they are steam (heat) treated to improve shelf life.
Quick Oats and Instant Oats:
This is where you need to watch out for the bad boys lurking in this group. Plain (with no additives) quick oats are just a more highly processed version of the old fashioned rolled oats so are ok if you want something quick to go.
In other words they roll the oat flakes thinner and/or steam them longer so you end up with quick oats and next down the line comes instant oats. The nutrition stays the same as these are all whole grains but the texture changes with each process.
But as I mentioned earlier, AVOID at all costs any that are flavoured or have some form of additive (which are mainly sugar and salt based).
So in the end what’s healthier steel cut oats or rolled oats? Check the link…..the answer will surprise you.
And just before you go you might also be interested in some great ideas from Dr Weil on cooking with grains: How to cook oats.
I came across this article at Authority Nutrition recently; 9 Health Benefits of Eating Oats and Oatmeal. It’s well worth taking a few minutes of your time to read this one too as they take an evidence based approach to food and diet.
The other piece of interesting information I came across while researching this article which I am sure will interest you is this Oats for Health Booklet – A research summary for health professionals. Download it now and have a read…….it is free.
Also, this article from the Brisbanetimes recently may have left some people feeling they have been led astray or worse still, fed a “bum steer” by our good friends at Uncle Tobys.
Toby has been referring to his oats as a ‘super food’.
Those of you who have been following me for a while know my feelings on the use of the word ‘superfood’ – there is really no such thing; it is just marketing jargon to suck you in to buying their product over a competitors brand.
Generally speaking the protein value of all Rolled Oats is around 13.15 gms per 100 gms. Just add skim or full cream milk and the protein content increases substantially…….still not a super food (but this is how and why they call it a superfood – just add milk) although it is still a very good way to start your day. No disputing that.
Recently here in Australia, the ACCC took offence at this super food label being used by Uncle Tobys (a Nestle owned Cereal Parters product) saying it is misleading advertising and fined the Company $32,400 for their misadventure.
Correspondingly, since the ACCC have all of a sudden taken more than a passing interest in food labelling and protecting we poor consumers, then there are plenty more ambiguous promotions of so called “healthy products” littering our supermarket shelves that, given the circumstances above, I am surprised have escaped their radar.
Although, I also noticed while researching this article, ACCC got Arnott’s Biscuits in their sights recently and pinged them for using a “false comparator” to claim its Shapes Light & Crispy products had 75 per cent less saturated fat. These claims amuse me no end……less saturated fat than what??
And here is something else I just came across about one of our most popular breakfast food companies. The headline reads: “Popular cereal brand slammed for dodgy health claims“.
According to the article in startsat60, it says, “Kellogg’s are the ones who have been slammed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for claims about its Special K range.
Ads for the popular cereal say the range in “full of goodness” and “nutritious”, but the ASA says the company has breached advertising standards as the tag lines are not backed up by a “specific authorised health claim”.
Many buyers I speak to of not only breakfast foods tell me they are sick up to the back teeth of all the outrageous statements and misleading health claims made by the big companies. Seems a few small fines and raps over the knuckles won’t deter them.
As I always say – caveat emptor (buyer beware).
Enjoy your breakfast 🙂
Cheers – John – your Active Ageing Coach and Activist.
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