Kara Swanson is a certified nutritionist and the founder of Life Well Lived. She is married to her best friend and the proud mother of three. Her passion is to make nutrition simple+easy+delicious!
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Note, however, that they're not the same as instant oats, which are usually ground down further and have more additives and flavorings in them to make them taste better.
Before buying oats, ask yourself what you are going to use them for. Different oats are great for different recipes. If it's for overnight oats, rolled oats or steel-cut oats are great for that. If it's for a quick early morning breakfast and you want them warm, quick oats are your go-to for this.
Rolled oats (or old-fashioned oats) are steamed and rolled flat, which helps extend their shelf life. They hold their shape fairly well and have a slightly chewy texture. They usually cook within five minutes.
These are the types of oats you'll often see incorporated into various desserts or granola due to their soft texture and versatility.
Rolled oats have a significantly lower glycemic index than other processed oats like instant oatmeal. Plus, it's great for baking and incorporating into your recipes. Oats are a cheap way to add bulk and fiber to recipes too. A really simple way to save money is by making your own granola and granola bars.
Steel-cut oats (or Irish or Scottish oats) are the least processed and are simply oat groats that have been chopped into smaller pieces. They’re chewy, highly textured, and take up to 30 minutes to cook.
They also boast a natural, nutty profile and more fiber content compared to the milder rolled or quick oats - though there really isn't too much difference in their overall nutritional value.
While there isn’t too much difference in nutrition between the different types, steel-cut and rolled oats tend to have slightly more fiber per serving than quick oats due to being less processed.
The form of our food matters in how we process it in our bodies. The same single ingredient, oats, in different forms can have different effects on our bodies. If you want the least processed choice, steel-cut oats are the best choice. It's not only the least processed but will also have the effect on stabilizing your blood sugar level and giving you fewer insulin spikes.
If you aren’t gluten-sensitive and just want peace of mind regarding the quality of your oats, look for other certifications like non-GMO, organic, vegan, or kosher.
If you are gluten-free you know the struggle and frustration with this! Yes, oats are naturally gluten-free but unfortunately, they are often processed in a way that makes them contaminated.
Thankfully, it's easier (although, more expensive) to get gluten-free oats at almost any grocery store now! I love buying bulk for this or grabbing a few bags when they are on sale to save some money.
These additional ingredients can really help to make your bowl of oatmeal more interesting, which can be good for those who don’t normally like the texture of plain oatmeal.
Some common additions include chia seeds, flax seeds, millet, and quinoa, which can add additional fiber, protein, and trace minerals to your morning oatmeal to make you feel fuller and add to your nutrient profile. Just be sure that the only things added are whole foods ingredients and not sweeteners or artificial flavorings.
Don't be afraid to spice up your oatmeal routine by grabbing one that has seeds, nuts, or dried fruit added. Or add your own to change things up and enjoy the benefits of the added fiber and healthy fats. This is a great way to get more nutrients in and keeps you from getting stuck in a breakfast rut.
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Farm to Table Foods
Ultimate Organic Oatmeal
Blended Oatmeal from an Independent, Sustainable Brand
Nature's Path Organic
Old Fashioned Organic Whole Grain Rolled Oats
Organic Rolled, Old-Fashioned Oats
One Degree Organic Foods
Sprouted Quick Oats
Sprouted Oats Promote a Healthy Gut
100% Whole Grain Oatmeal
Quick Cooking and Full of Texture Steel-Cut Oats
Bob's Red Mill
Gluten Free 8 Grain Hot Cereal
Best Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Oatmeal
Superfood Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon
Added Fruits for a New Flavor and Texture Profile
Bob's Red Mill
Gluten-Free Steel Cut Oats
Hearty, Nutty, and Gluten-Free
Celiac-Friendly Rolled Oats
John's Killer Protein
Whole Grain Proats
Protein-Packed to Keep You Full
Augason Farms Rolled Oats Emergency Food Storage
Buy in Bulk If You Use Oatmeal Often
This oat mix is great for those who like a little convenience–it includes both fruits and nuts and cooks in just two minutes, but it still allows you to add your own sweetener.
Reviewers in fact do recommend adding your own sweetener - like honey - to this mix since it doesn't have a lot of sugar in it. On the other hand, reviewers like the texture of the oatmeal and how healthy it made them feel.
One of my favorite breakfast recipes that my kids absolutely love is for banana muffin cookies. They are super easy to make and are packed with nutrients but still taste like a fun treat. You can grab the recipe here.
Oats work great in smoothies, too. Adding just a bit of oats into one packs a filling punch of fiber and protein, keeping you satisfied for longer. If you're in need of a tried and trusted blender for your morning drink, then nutritionist Kara Swanson recommends the NutriBullet.
Looking for other ways to switch over to a healthier lifestyle? You can try natural sweeteners, snacks, and, when you don't have time, meal replacements. You can even give or receive gift baskets full of good-for-you foods. Check out some of our other articles for more information!
No. 1：Farm to Table Foods｜Ultimate Organic Oatmeal｜3 pack, 16 oz. each
No. 2：Nature's Path Organic｜Old Fashioned Organic Whole Grain Rolled Oats｜6 pack, 18 oz each
No. 3：One Degree Organic Foods｜Sprouted Quick Oats｜24 oz.
No. 4：Coach's Oats｜100% Whole Grain Oatmeal｜2 pack, 48 oz. each
No. 5：Bob's Red Mill｜Gluten Free 8 Grain Hot Cereal｜25 oz.
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