Oats have a long history of medicinal use that dates back to antiquity. This superfood is one of the healthiest grains and most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. Oats are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Compared to other grains, oat proteins are superior in quality and quantity based on the makeup of essential amino acids. Oats are processed in many different ways. The less refined varieties, such as groats or steel-cut oats, take longer to digest, have a lower glycemic index and tend to contain more health-related benefits than other, more processed, oats.
Oats contain large amounts of beta-glucan, a soluble dietary fibre with plenty of health benefits. Beta-glucan helps slow digestion, which in turn slows the absorption of nutrients, particularly carbohydrates, and works to enhance satiety. By regulating intes-tinal transit time, oats also help to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, increase the production of short-chain fatty acids and reduce total blood cholesterol levels. Consumption of oat fibre has also been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Oats contain a group of bioavailable antioxidants called avenanthramides that may help mediate the heart-protective effect of oats. These compounds are almost exclusively found in oats. Studies have shown that avenanthramides can lower blood pressure levels by increasing the production of nitric oxide, which helps dilate blood vessels and leads to better blood flow. What’s more? Research suggests that avenanthramides also have the potential to help prevent and treat chronic oxidative stress and inflammation, especially age-related diseases including cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases.
One of the most well-documented properties of oats is their ability to soothe dry, itchy skin conditions like dermatitis and eczema. This benefit is also attributed to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers of aven-anthramides. When applied topically, the anti-itch properties of oats are comparable to those of hydrocortisone treatments. Colloidal oatmeal,
(finely ground oats) has been approved by the FDA as a skin-protective substance; it's found in numerous pharmaceutical and cosmetic formulations. As an ingredient in skin-care products, oats are reputed to plump the skin, reduce wrinkles and restore the skin barrier.
Keep in mind
While oats are generally safe to eat for those with celiac disease, avenin, a protein present in oats, can cause sensitivity in a small portion of people.
Soothe sensitive skin with these oat-based products.
PAI SKINCARE Instant Kalmer, $99, thedetoxmarket.ca.
THE INKEY LIST Oat Cleansing Balm, $14, sephora.ca.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN SOAP CO Lavender Daily Oat Lotion, $21, rockymountainsoap.com.