Rolled Oats, Steel Cut Oats, and Groats – Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Oats are a very common grain and are eaten by people all across the globe. They are nutrient dense. They have a large number of minerals and vitamins. In addition to a good amount of micronutrients, they are also relatively high in protein and fiber. They are considered to be very healthy and have many nutritional benefits.

  • Regular consumption is related to lower blood cholesterol.

There are quite a few different methods of processing oats and as a result, they may be branded slightly different. Common names such as rolled oats, steel cut oats, oat bran or even Scottish and Irish oats are frequently used. The typical serving size is around 40 grams.

Macro and Micro Nutrients in Oats

How many calories do oats have?

Oats are nutrient dense. As a result, they have a high amount of calories. Oats have a high proportion of carbohydrates, also contain a significant amount of protein and have some healthy fats.  A 100-gram serving has 389 kcal so a typical serving of around 40 grams has around 155 kcal. This nutritional data has been obtained from the USDA Food Database. You can use this database to search for a full breakdown on both the macro and micronutrients of foods. The number of calories can vary, however! There are a few things that can affect the number of calories.

  • Watch Out! A lot of food manufacturers who make breakfast products with oats often add excessive amounts of sugar.

A good rule of thumb is to remember that 1 gram of sugar contains 4 calories. The product may be marketed as just containing oats, such as the microwavable packets that you just add milk or water too, however they will probably contain added sugar or sweeteners. So be careful and always read the nutrition information.

Two popular varieties of oats, rolled oats and steel cut oats do not differ very much in terms of total calorific value. It would be nice if I could give you a definitive answer but due to variances of different brands, I think it’s best to give you a general trend. Steel cut oats on average contain around 380-420 kcal per 100 grams. Rolled oats have between 350-380 kcal per 100 grams.

How much Protein is in Oats?

Oats are a great source of protein. According to the USDA database, a 100 gram serving of oats has 16.89 grams of protein. The bad news is that like a lot of grains and cereals oats are not a complete protein.

What is a complete protein? A complete protein is one that provides all of the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities. Oats contain all of the essential amino acids, however, some of them in low concentration. This means that to get the required amount of all the amino acids you would have to consume an extreme amount. The table below shows the amino acids and their concentrations in oats. The value given is in grams per 100-gram serving.

Fats in oats

Oats are relatively low in fat. A 100 grams serving has 6.9 grams of fat. They have a total of 1.2 grams of saturated fat. Saturated Fat is an interesting macronutrient to look into. You have probably heard people talk about it in a negative way and they are for the most part correct. However, a lot of people don’t have a full understanding, have a look at Saturated Fat: A Closer Look at a Demonized Macro Nutrient if you would like to learn more. A short summary would be that there are different types of saturated fat with each one having a different effect on the body. Of the four main types, we can see that oats have a high concentration of palmitic acid. The table below shows the different amounts of saturated fat per 100 grams. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 7% of your total calories in the form of saturated fat, which based on a 2,500 kcal diet, works out to around 19 grams.

The good news is that oats also have some healthier fats. Research is still being undertaken to clarify how healthy these types of fats are but numerous studies have come to positive conclusions. Per 100 grams of oats contain 2.18 grams of monounsaturated fats and 2.56 grams of polyunsaturated fats.

Oats – Fiber

Oats are a fantastic source of fiber. A 100-gram serving contains 10.6 grams of fiber. Although we can’t directly digest fiber it serves a few important functions. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, each plays a different role. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is fermented in the small intestine. Soluble fibers can also bind with bile acids which in turn makes it harder for them to re-enter the body which can cause a decrease in cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber also adds to the feeling of fullness. Oats have a good amount of soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is indigestible but helps with bulking, meaning that it makes it easier for you to go to the toilet. Insoluble fiber is also linked to a reduced risk of diabetes although the mechanism for this is unknown.

Oats – Vitamins and Minerals

Oats have both good and bad levels of vitamins and minerals. There is no vitamin A, E, C or K. These vitamins are more commonly found in fruits and vegetables. However, there is a large amount of vitamin B6, 1 mg per 100 grams or 0.4 mg per serving giving you 26% of your RDI. There is also a high quantity of thiamin, 0.76 mg per 100 grams or 0.3 per serving, 25% of your RDI. There is also a small amount of folate. Oats perform much better for minerals. There are good levels of magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, and phosphorus. A typical serving will provide you with 11% (magnesium), 11% (zinc), 4% (potassium), 10% (iron) and 21% (phosphorus) of your RDI.

Different Kinds of Oats

Groats –  Groats are whole grains that included all parts of the grain. Groats are very nutritious. They include all parts of the grain so they retain the benefits of the bran. The bad news with oat groats is that they are very hard and take a long time to cook. Cooking groats can take between 30 minutes to 1 hour to fully cook. Perfect for people who can prepare but not so great for including in a smoothie recipe.

Rolled Oats – Rolled Oats are groats that have been steamed. They are then rolled into flakes and then lightly toasted. Some types of rolled oats may have the bran removed. Because the oats have been steam or sometimes pressure cooked this reduces the cooking time.

Rolled oats.

Rolled oats are perfect for smoothies.

Steel Cut Oats – Steel Cut Oats are simply groats that are cut into smaller pieces using a steel blade. Therefore steel cut oats have a similar although slightly reduced cooking time to groats.

Oat Bran Benefits – Oat Bran is the outer layers of the grain whereas rolled and steel cut oats are the whole grain. Oat bran is high in fiber and has a good amount of protein. Oat bran has around 17 grams of fiber per 100 grams and 17 grams of protein.

Oat Bran

Oat bran has a fantastic amount of fiber and is high in protein

Health Benefits of Oats

Oats make a great addition to smoothies. I find that they help thicken and give the smoothie a smooth texture. They don’t have a strong flavor so they can be combined with anything! Oats are perfect to eat every day. During this post, I have been talking all about oats but a common question that people ask is what is the difference between oats and oatmeal. Oatmeal is simply the combination of oats with milk or sometimes water. Oatmeal makes for a great start to the day and can form part of a very healthy diet. Here are some of the biggest health benefits that you can get from eating oats:

  • Regular consumption lowers blood cholesterol
  • Fiber helps maintain a healthy digestive tract
  • Groats contain Avenanthramides which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
  • Soluble fiber helps you feel fuller for longer and moderates blood sugar levels