oatmealbowlWhen I was a kid my mom made all four of us kids eat some kind of hot cereal when it was cold. It was either oatmeal or malt-o-meal. I hated it. The only thing we had to spice it up with was some butter and that didn’t improve the taste at all. Once it got cold it was even worse. I remember vividly the gag reflex I would have by trying to force down cold oatmeal. Because of that I refused to eat oatmeal for over twenty years. That changed five days ago when 2009 started.

Why did I change my ways and give oatmeal a second chance? Because I had heard for years that it was good for you and it had quite a few health benefits. I need all the health benefits I can get. I decided to do some research and find out what those health benefits were. Here they are.

1. There are numerous studies that show that oatmeal may lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The soluble fiber in oatmeal is supposed to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while maintaining the HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

2. The insoluble fiber in oatmeal helps keep the bowels clean by making your stool heavier so it passes through easier. It’s also good for diabetics because the fiber slows down the digestion of starch.

3. Oatmeal is loaded with vitamins like E, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, and thiamine. It also contains zinc which is important for healing of wounds, growth, reproduction, and it’s important for your metabolism.

4. Some studies suggest that a diet containing oatmeal may help reduce high blood pressure.

5. The soluble fiber in oatmeal absorbs water and significantly slows down the digestive process. This leaves you feeling fuller longer and can help control your weight.

Maple & Brown Sugar

Maple & Brown Sugar

With the new year upon me I told myself that I was going to try and eat better. I decided oatmeal for breakfast was going to be my first step. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid to try it. I was surprised though that it tasted pretty good. I will admit though that I cheated and opted for the Quaker Instant Oatmeal. It was the maple and brown sugar weight control kind. I know they say you should have the plain Quaker Oats because of the sugars in the pre-flavored kinds. I wasn’t going to try it for the first time in over 20 years plain though. If you read the box on the weight control oatmeal it’s actually not that bad. The nutrition facts are shown to the left (ignore the orange numbers; it was the best pic I could find).

There you have it. I took the plunge after a 20 year hiatus from this super healthy food and feel better after having done it. I’ve had several bowls since that first one and each has been just as good as the last.

Before my next article I’d like to hear from you about your experiences with eating oatmeal and what you do to enhance the flavor if your using the plain stuff. If you’re not eating oatmeal, why not?