Oatmeal is popularly considered a healthy food to add to your diet. This article talks in depth about what to consider while having oatmeal for diabetes. This whole grain is fiber rich, associated with a reduced risk of heart disease & promotes weight loss.
A 2015 review revealed a beneficial effect of oats intake on glucose control & lipid profiles in type 2 diabetic patients. Oats intake significantly reduced the concentrations of glycosylated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol & low-density lipoprotein cholesterol(LDL).
Despite this, considering how to prepare oatmeal & what to add to it is essential. These can affect the benefits it may have on diabetes & other health conditions.
If you are considering adding oatmeal to your diet to reap off maximum benefits, consider speaking with a doctor or a registered dietician regarding a meal plan.
Pros of oatmeal for diabetes
Few studies suggest oatmeal is beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Oats are high in soluble fiber, including a prebiotic called beta-glucans. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in your gut. They are also high in phenolic compounds, vitamins, and minerals.
Oatmeal interventions have been frequently used for the management of type 2 diabetes. A 2019 study used a modified hypocaloric, plant-based oatmeal intervention in people with type 2 diabetes that was not effectively controlled. The researchers found that the use of short-term modified intervention effectively reduced blood glucose levels & the need for insulin.
However, the study results could have partly been due to participants consuming fewer calories or other dietary factors influencing their glucose metabolism.
A 2020 study that analyzed data from three prospective cohort studies found that the higher consumption of whole grains was linked with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes.
Another 2020 study reviewed the mechanisms by which whole oats & barley affected the blood glucose response, cholesterol & gut microbiota composition. The researchers concluded that the interconnection between beta-glucans, dietary fibers, microbiota, & phytonutrients could be responsible for the observed beneficial impact of oats on reducing cholesterol & blood sugar levels.
Cons of oatmeal for diabetes
Oatmeal is dense in carbs. Though it contains soluble fiber, its fiber content is low relative to its overall carbohydrate content.
Considering this, high carb foods can cause high blood glucose spikes if you eat too much at one time.
However, several factors influence how oatmeal is digested, such as:
- the type & how it’s processed
- how it is prepared
- other added foods
People with diabetes should avoid instant oatmeal that has a lot of added sugars. Though plain instant form is available, it is more highly processed than intact oats. Highly processed forms tends to raise blood glucose more than regular intact grains.
Other benefits of oatmeal
The beta-glucans of oats have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, which is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
This is in line with some studies, such as a 2022 study that found that consumption of whole grains was associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
A 2022 randomized control trial aimed to explore oatmeal’s effects on cardiometabolic risk factors & their correlations with gut microbiota and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in individuals who had modestly high cholesterol.
Study results reported that oatmeal significantly reduced cholesterol & oxidative stress, & increased the SCFAs that fuel beneficial gut microbiota.
How to prepare Oatmeal for diabetes patients?
The recommended type for people with diabetes and overall health are whole oat groats & steel cut oats. These are the least processed forms that will have a reduced impact on your blood sugar.
The more processed the oatmeal is, the higher impact it may have on your blood sugar. Instant oats & highly processed rolled oats typically cause the highest risk of blood sugar spike.
Many people add sugar & sweeteners, which further spike the blood sugar.
Avoid or limit adding the following to help reduce spikes in blood sugar:
- maple syrup
- agave nectar
- Any other sugary syrup
Adding protein, fat & fiber to oatmeal can also help alleviate your blood sugar response. Some ideas of what you can add include:
- ground flaxseed
- chia seeds
- other nuts and seeds
- egg whites
- nut/seed butters
- unsweetened protein powder
- psyllium husk
- wheat bran
Instead of having a full serving of oatmeal, you can do one part steel cut oats & one part “cauliflower oats” or “zucchini oats,” also known as “zoats.” These are neutral-tasting vegetables that blend well. This tip adds fiber, nutrients & bulk without adding calories & carbohydrates.
Oatmeal is a nutritious food that contains soluble fiber, bioactive compounds, vitamins & minerals.
It can be beneficial for people with diabetes. Its preparation method & the type make a difference in how it affects our body.
Choosing steel cut or whole oat groats over instant oatmeal and more processed forms is generally more beneficial to your health.
FAQ(Frequently asked questions)