Oatmeal: heart healthy and nutritious

“Avena” is the Spanish translation for oatmeal, and there is no doubt that it is a derivative from the scientific term for oats: Avena sativa.

The nutrient-rich grain is the sole ingredient in the popular breakfast choice for health enthusiasts and provides an array of benefits from lowering cholesterol to decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease.

If you’ve tried oatmeal before and didn’t like it, reconsider. Throw in your favorite fruit or spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and delve in the strength and lasting energy that it provides.


Originating in Asia, the wild red oat is the ancestor to the modern oat we have come to know. Having been cultivated for two thousand years in various regions throughout the world, oats were first used for medicinal purposes, it was not until later on that they were recognized as a food source.

In the early 17th century, Scottish settlers introduced North America to oats, where it remains to be one of the largest commercial producers today alongside Germany, Poland, and Finland.


It is best to buy oats in small quantities at a time since it will go rancid quicker than other grains due to its higher fat content. Prepared oatmeal should be purchased without the addition of any salt, sugar, or preservatives. The nutrition label should state only one ingredient: whole grain oats.

To make oatmeal, add your oats to cold water and then cook at a simmer. Typically, two parts water to one part oats is ideal. But you can re-arrange this to accommodate your preferences.

At this time, you can include the spices or sugar you would like to include to allow the oats to absorb the flavor (you can also do this after as a topping).

Oatmeal (uncooked) should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place where it will keep for roughly two months.

Ways to enjoy

* Add fresh blueberries, raspberries and a drizzle of honey to a hot bowl of oatmeal.

* Make oatmeal cookies for a healthy midday treat.

* Add whole oats to bread or muffins when baking.

* Include oats in your morning smoothie – blend them with fruits, ice, and a splash of milk.


Lower cholesterol – Oats (and therefore oatmeal) contain the fiber beta-glucan. Consuming oat fiber has been proven to lower total cholesterol levels, especially “bad” cholesterol.

Prevent heart disease – A study from the Archives of Internal Medicine states that eating high fiber foods helps prevent heart disease. In the study, people eating the most fiber had less coronary and cardiovascular disease compared to those eating less.

Oatmeal also contains lignans, a plant chemical that has been found to prevent heart disease.

Lower weight – Due to its high fiber levels, eating oatmeal leaves you feeling fuller, longer. This will lead you to avoid those quick, sugary temptations and continue throughout the day making the right food choices.

In addition to the various health benefits, oats are also a great source of iron, magnesium, and B vitamins.

Fun fact

Approximately 75 percent of US households have oatmeal in their cupboard.

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