Oat-so Healthy: The Power of Oats

11/02/2015 14:31 GMT | Updated 12/04/2015 10:59 BST

We all know that oats are good for us - they have long been linked to healthy eating, and are one of those staple foods that we rely on when we need something that is going to fill us up, and keep us fuller for longer. Personally, I will always choose between a bowl of porridge oats or a high protein breakfast when I've got a busy morning ahead, knowing that I'll feel full and energised for the next few hours.

I saw an interview recently with the oldest woman in Scotland who, at 108 years old, attributed her long, healthy life to avoiding men and eating a bowl of porridge every day. Whilst I'm not quite sure of the science behind the first claim (!), I absolutely believe in the benefits of eating a bowl of porridge on a regular basis. And in fact, this second claim is well-founded in science, with many studies heralding oats as life-prolonging, health-boosting and an all-round superfood. But there's even more to this family breakfast favourite:

Oat can aid weight loss

This is one that we've known about for years, but recent research has backed this up - linking regular consumption of whole grain foods, such as porridge oats, to lower BMI. How does it do this? Well, wholegrain carbs such as oats, release energy more slowly, and are known for keeping us fuller for longer, therefore reducing hunger pangs. As a result, we can go longer until our next meal, and we're less likely to snack in between - helping to stop us from consuming any unnecessary calories. So if you've already fallen off your New Year's Resolution to eat more healthily, then swapping your cereal for a bowl of porridge could be an easy and beneficial first step back into healthy eating.

Oats can improve your heart health

The high levels of beta-glucan fibre in oats have also been found to lower cholesterol, helping to protect us from heart disease. Not only this, but oats have also been found to be a good source of avenanthramides, bioactive compounds with anti-oxidant properties that are also thought to help prevent heart attacks and strokes, making oats an all-round heart-health hero. In fact, the studies linking oats to improved heart health are so convincing that authorities around the world have issued formal health reports on the role of oats in helping to reduce heart disease.

Oats stabilise our blood sugar levels and help prevent diabetes

As a rich source of fibre, oats have been found to stabilise our blood sugar levels, and as a result, to prevent that mid-morning slump that leaves us reaching for the biscuit tin. They are also a great source of magnesium - a mineral that helps to regulate our insulin and glucose levels. According to one study, combining your oats with low-fat milk can also help to lower your risk of diabetes!

So if you weren't a fan of porridge before, then it might be time to give it another go. And if plain porridge isn't your thing, or you just want to add a bit of life to your morning oats, then there are plenty of healthy ways you can add some flavour without needing to pour on the sugar or syrup.

For more information about how you can make healthy changes to your life, then take a look at what the Vavista Programme could do for you.