• 8 Best Healthy Instant Oatmeals in 2022 (Registered Dietitian-Reviewed) 1
  • 8 Best Healthy Instant Oatmeals in 2022 (Registered Dietitian-Reviewed) 2
  • 8 Best Healthy Instant Oatmeals in 2022 (Registered Dietitian-Reviewed) 3
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8 Best Healthy Instant Oatmeals in 2022 (Registered Dietitian-Reviewed)

Eating a healthy breakfast or meal on the go can be a struggle on busy days, as there is often little time to prepare and cook food. Instant oatmeal is a popular choice because it is quick and tasty, but some oatmeals are laden with sugar, sodium, and unhealthy ingredients. Healthy instant oatmeal is a perfect choice because it is quick to make and packed with essential fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.


To assist you in making the perfect selection, we've searched through many products and reviews and compiled a list of the eight best healthy instant oatmeals. Our favorite is the Classic Oatmeal from Bob's Red Mill because it is low in sugar, but contains a delicious combination of oats, flax seeds, and chia seeds. It is also in a convenient cup package to take on the go. For further details on choosing the best healthy instant oatmeal, check out the buying guide we created with insight from a registered dietitian. 

Featured in this article

Rachel Binkley
mybest US Editors
  • Last updated: 09-05-2022
Table of Contents

How to Choose a Healthy Instant Oatmeal - Buying Guide

This helpful guide will assist you in selecting the perfect healthy instant oatmeal by highlighting certain criteria you should keep in mind such as flavor, nutritional content, the type of oats, and packaging. 

Choose an Oatmeal Flavor That You'll Like

Choose an Oatmeal Flavor That You'll Like
No matter how healthy something is, you probably won't eat it consistently if you don't enjoy the taste. Sweet flavors are a good option to satisfy your sweet tooth while still getting healthy nutrients. Some popular sweet flavors are maple and brown sugar, apples and cinnamon, raisins and spice, blueberry, and vanilla almond.

On the other hand, savory flavors make it feel like you're eating a complete meal that might satiate your hunger. Try getting plain oatmeal and adding your own flavors! Some popular savory flavors are ham, egg and cheese, tomato basil, curry, and chili.


Eating the same taste over and over again can be boring. It’s a good idea to try a variety of flavors. Some brands like Quaker and Oats Overnight offer four different flavors that come in individual packets.

Pay Attention to the Nutrition Information

The nutrition label will detail many important aspects of instant oatmeal. Take a close look at the sugar, fiber, and protein to make sure you have a satisfactory balance. 

Low in Sugar, High in Protein and Fiber

Low in Sugar, High in Protein and Fiber

Eating too much sugar in one meal can cause a drop in energy or poor mood. The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 24 grams of added sugar per day for adult women and children, and no more than 36 grams for men. It’s a good idea to choose a brand that contains no more than six grams of sugar.


Eating protein and fiber together is essential for having long-lasting energy and feeling full for longer. Fiber helps slow down digestion so that you have sustained energy and you won't be looking for something to snack on right after eating. Protein is important as a building block for muscle mass. 


Look for instant oatmeal with five grams of protein or more per serving and three grams or more of fiber per serving. The amount of fiber and protein in your instant oatmeal can be supplemented with ingredients like chia seeds, quinoa, or almonds. 

Unflavored Instant Oatmeals Give You Control

Unflavored Instant Oatmeals Give You Control

For ideal healthy eating, we suggest you pick plain, unflavored instant oatmeals that contain no added sugar. Plain oatmeals are sodium-free. Many brands have added salt to enhance the flavor, though, so look for one that's under or around 250 milligrams of sodium per serving.


You can add your favorite type of sweetener to plain oatmeal, and it allows you to adjust the sweetness level based on your preferences. Since there are many types of sweeteners, make sure you choose one that suits your taste and dietary restrictions.

Natural Sweeteners for a Healthier Sugar Alternative

Natural Sweeteners for a Healthier Sugar Alternative

If you're trying to manage your weight or you have to restrict sugar for health reasons, it's a good idea to avoid white sugar, brown sugar and maple syrup. White and brown sugar can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, whereas maple syrup is calorie dense. Instead, we suggest you choose sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit.


No-calorie sweeteners have positive and negative aspects. Both stevia and monk fruit are not digested by the body and therefore have no calories, which makes them healthier sugar alternatives. However, some people report a bitter aftertaste when eating stevia. 


Monk fruit is a no-calorie sweetener that is rich in antioxidants, which have many health benefits, including assisting in weight management. But, it can often be responsible for causing abdominal discomfort, such as bloating or gas. 

Rachel Binkley
Registered Dietitian (RD, LD)
Rachel Binkley

Long story short, any sweetener should be consumed in moderation. Noncaloric sweeteners can cause GI discomfort that may not be manageable for some individuals. Others monitor their blood sugars consistently, so that's their priority. 


When using caloric sweeteners like brown sugar or maple syrup, start small and see what amount actually satisfies you. Sometimes it's less than you would expect. When incorporating more noncaloric sweeteners, do so gradually. This will help your body adjust rather than making a huge swap all at once.

Look for Additional Nutrient-Dense Ingredients

Look for Additional Nutrient-Dense Ingredients

Some brands are 100 percent oats. If you want to add texture, flavor, and more nutrients to your oatmeal, we suggest you consider instant oatmeal that has flax seeds, chia seeds, quinoa, almonds, walnuts, or dried fruit. These ingredients are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and many other vitamins and minerals.

 

Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber, which helps to promote a healthy digestive system. If you want to increase fiber content even more, we suggest you look for extra ingredients like chicory root extract, almonds, or apples


You may want to consider high-protein instant oatmeal, too. Many brands have added whey protein or soy protein. Some brands that have added protein powder may offer up to 16 grams of protein per serving! 

Rachel Binkley
Registered Dietitian (RD, LD)
Rachel Binkley

Fiber and protein are the nutrients that make oatmeal a realistic and sustainable breakfast. When you consume primarily simple carbohydrates in the morning, like juice, sugar, or white bread, your energy will come very quickly. Incorporating seeds, protein powder, nut butter, yogurt, and more can slow digestion. Your blood sugar won't spike as rapidly and the meal will keep you feeling satisfied longer.

Check the Type and Quality of the Oats

Check the Type and Quality of the Oats

Some research has found that many oat products contain glyphosate, a low-cost herbicide that is widely used in agriculture. According to the Environment Working Group, glyphosate is considered to be safe if it’s below 160 parts per billion (ppb).


However, a test conducted in 2018 showed that 31 of the 45 oat samples contained more than 160 ppb of glyphosate. The dangers of glyphosate and its prevalence in oat products are still widely debated by experts.


If you’re wary of herbicides and pesticides, it’s a good idea to switch from non-organic to organic oats since glyphosate is banned in organic farming; instead, they use natural pest control like green manure and crop rotation. Luckily, many brands also offer organic options. 

Check the Type and Quality of the Oats

It is also a good idea to consider what type of oats are used to make instant oatmeal. Rolled and steel cut oats are two of the most common type of oats. The process to make both types starts with whole oats, which then have their outer layer, called the hull, removed.  


After the outer layer is removed, oats go through a process where they are steamed and compressed between heavy steel rollers, creating rolled oats. Instant oats are a subset of rolled oats that are steamed, rolled, and chopped into finer pieces, allowing for a quicker cooking time. 


Steel cut oats take the longest to cook because they are the least processed. The oats have their hull removed and then are chopped into rough pieces using steel blades. Because they are the least processed, steel oats have slightly higher nutritional value. You might want to choose this type if you want the ideal nutrition from your oats. Steel cut oats are sometimes offered in a quick cooking variety. 

Pick Packaging That Is Convenient for You

Pick Packaging That Is Convenient for You

Instant oatmeal comes in different types of packaging including cups, packets, bulk bags, jars, and cartons. Bags and jars can be a great option when you want to buy in a bigger size. A resealable bag makes it quick and easy to store the leftovers.


Boxes usually contain small packets inside, which represent a single serving. This type of packaging is convenient to use and easy for portion control. Like packets, cups are also single-serving. Since they're portable and don't require a separate bowl, they're also a good option when you're on the go.


In general, the shelf life of an unopened, natural instant oatmeal is from one to two years after the printed date. However, flavored instant oatmeal has a shorter shelf life, approximately six to nine months after the printed date. The reason is that it contains ingredients like fruit, milk, cream, and seasonings. Look for sealable containers to maintain the shelf life of flavored oatmeal.

8 Best Healthy Instant Oatmeals

We've picked the most popular healthy instant oatmeals that we think you shouldn't miss! We've included a range of different products that come in various types of packaging for you to choose from.


*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Rachel Binkley. Prices were gathered from respective EC sites on June 30, 2022.

Image
Bob's Red Mill Classic Oatmeal With Flax and Chia 1

Bob's Red Mill

Nature’s Path Homestyle Instant Oatmeal 1

Nature’s Path

Quaker Organic Instant Oatmeal 1

Quaker

Better Oats 100 Calories Instant Oatmeal With Flax Seeds 1

Better Oats

Bakery on Main Instant Oatmeal 1

Bakery on Main

Purely Elizabeth Superfood Oats 1

Purely Elizabeth

Better Oats Steel Cut Instant Oatmeal 1

Better Oats

Nature's Path Qi'a  1

Nature's Path

Name

Classic Oatmeal With Flax and Chia

Homestyle Instant Oatmeal

Organic Instant Oatmeal

100 Calories Instant Oatmeal With Flax Seeds

Instant Oatmeal

Superfood Oats

Steel Cut Instant Oatmeal

Qi'a

Features

Best Oatmeal Packed With Fiber

Best Single-Ingredient, Gluten-Free Oatmeal

Best Organic Oatmeal

Best for Portion Control

Best Certified Gluten-Free Oatmeal With Ancient Grains

Best to Make the Amount You Want

Best for Hearty Texture

Best Slightly Sweet Coconut Oatmeal

Price$3.79$7.26$6.99$3.99$5.50$4.99$3.78$5.49
FlavorClassicHomestyleOriginalMaple and brown sugarAncient grain & seedOriginalOriginalCoconut
Sugar per serving1g0g0g1g0g0g1g1g
Protein per serving7g6g4g4g8g5g5g6g
Fiber per serving 7g4g3g3g6g5g4g5g
Main ingredientsWhole grain oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, sea saltWhole grain rolled oats Whole grain rolled oats Whole grain rolled oats, flax seeds, salt, sugarWhole grain oats, flax meal, chia seeds, quinoa, amaranth Oats, flax seed, quinoa flakes, chia seeds, hemp seeds, puffed amaranthWhole grain steel cut oats, flax seed, saltRolled oats, dried coconut, buckwheat groats, chia seeds, hemp seeds
HighlightsGluten-freeOrganic, gluten-free, non-GMOOrganic, non-GMOFortified with vitamins and mineralsGluten-free, non-GMOGluten-free, non-GMO, organicNon-GMOOrganic, gluten-free, non-GMO
Packaging CupPacketsPacketsPacketsPackets Resealable bagPackets Packets
Amount1.81 oz.11.3 oz.; 8 packets7.9 oz.; 8 packets9.8 oz.; 10 packets10.5 oz.; 6 packets10 oz.11.6 oz.; 10 packets8 oz.; 6 packets
Link

Bob's Red MillClassic Oatmeal With Flax and Chia

$3.79

FlavorClassic
Sugar per serving1g
Protein per serving7g
Fiber per serving 7g
Main ingredientsWhole grain oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, sea salt
HighlightsGluten-free
Packaging Cup
Amount1.81 oz.
FlavorHomestyle
Sugar per serving0g
Protein per serving6g
Fiber per serving 4g
Main ingredientsWhole grain rolled oats
HighlightsOrganic, gluten-free, non-GMO
Packaging Packets
Amount11.3 oz.; 8 packets
FlavorOriginal
Sugar per serving0g
Protein per serving4g
Fiber per serving 3g
Main ingredientsWhole grain rolled oats
HighlightsOrganic, non-GMO
Packaging Packets
Amount7.9 oz.; 8 packets

Better Oats100 Calories Instant Oatmeal With Flax Seeds

$3.99

FlavorMaple and brown sugar
Sugar per serving1g
Protein per serving4g
Fiber per serving 3g
Main ingredientsWhole grain rolled oats, flax seeds, salt, sugar
HighlightsFortified with vitamins and minerals
Packaging Packets
Amount9.8 oz.; 10 packets
FlavorAncient grain & seed
Sugar per serving0g
Protein per serving8g
Fiber per serving 6g
Main ingredientsWhole grain oats, flax meal, chia seeds, quinoa, amaranth
HighlightsGluten-free, non-GMO
Packaging Packets
Amount10.5 oz.; 6 packets
FlavorOriginal
Sugar per serving0g
Protein per serving5g
Fiber per serving 5g
Main ingredientsOats, flax seed, quinoa flakes, chia seeds, hemp seeds, puffed amaranth
HighlightsGluten-free, non-GMO, organic
Packaging Resealable bag
Amount10 oz.
FlavorOriginal
Sugar per serving1g
Protein per serving5g
Fiber per serving 4g
Main ingredientsWhole grain steel cut oats, flax seed, salt
HighlightsNon-GMO
Packaging Packets
Amount11.6 oz.; 10 packets
FlavorCoconut
Sugar per serving1g
Protein per serving6g
Fiber per serving 5g
Main ingredientsRolled oats, dried coconut, buckwheat groats, chia seeds, hemp seeds
HighlightsOrganic, gluten-free, non-GMO
Packaging Packets
Amount8 oz.; 6 packets

Rachel's Recommended Healthy Instant Oatmeal

think!Protein + Oatmeal Whole Grain Oatmeal (Peanut Butter Honey)

$2.69

FlavorPeanut butter and honey
Sugar per serving9g
Protein per serving10g
Fiber per serving 5g
Main ingredientsRolled oats, steel cut oats, red quinoa, cane sugar, peanuts, chicory root fiber, honey, salt
HighlightsNon-GMO certified
Packaging Cup
Amount50g
Rachel Binkley
Registered Dietitian (RD, LD)
Rachel Binkley

think! Instant Oatmeal is a great option for a quick breakfast on the go. I really appreciate the added protein and minimal added sugars. 5 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein will help you stay full longer than oats alone. The individual cups also tend to have extra room. If you want to spice up flavors, you can try adding fruit, chia seeds, or even greek yogurt.

Frequently Asked Questions

In addition to reviewing our buying guide, Rachel also took the time to answer a couple of commonly-asked questions about instant oatmeal.

Is instant oatmeal good for you?

"It can be!" Rachel says. "Any concerns I have with instant oatmeal come from ingredients other than oats. It's okay to add sugar, but it helps to be aware of how much. Adding a source of protein to your breakfast can help manage blood sugar and keep you full longer. 


Oats do have some protein, but I wouldn't recommend it as the primary protein source of your meal. In my opinion, fiber is the biggest benefit of oats. It helps with cholesterol, bowel regularity, and satiety."

Is instant oatmeal good for weight loss?

Rachel explains, "Instant oatmeal won't cause or prevent weight loss on its own. If oats are a part of your breakfast, it's important to also include a source of protein and/or healthy fats for satiety. If weight loss is the goal, keep an eye out for added sugars. These calories add to the taste but not necessarily the function of your oatmeal."

Looking for Oatmeal Topping Ideas?

The simple way to make your oatmeal taste delicious is to add toppings. Below are our suggestions for healthy ingredients that you can add to your bowl.

Buying Guide Reviewed by Registered Dietitian Rachel Binkley

Rachel Binkley
Registered Dietitian (RD, LD)
Rachel Binkley

This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary, as well as extra tips and advice. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.

Author: Apinya Masuda

Updated by: Andrew Simmons, 6/30/2022


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    Do you love all things spicy? Or perhaps you're just looking to add a little variety to your snacks? Either way, spicy snacks are a flavorful way to make snack time more exciting. They offer a variety of flavor profiles from intense heat to tangy and salty. Plus, the spice can make greasy snacks feel less heavy, or healthy snacks feel more appetizing! No matter your preference or the occasion, there is a perfect spicy snack for everyone. We analyzed a range of products and reviews that offer heat, flavor, and texture variety to bring you a list of our 10 favorite spicy snacks. Our favorite is the Bold Sriracha Almonds from Blue Diamond because they offer a complex flavor profile, and are a good source of protein and fiber. Their mild heat level also gives them a broad appeal. Check out the rest of our article for our other top choices, as well as a buying guide reviewed by a professional chef that's full of useful shopping tips.
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