The article is a subjective view on this topic written by writers specializing in medical writing.
It may reflect on a personal journey surrounding struggles with an illness or medical condition, involve product comparisons, diet considerations, or other health-related opinions.
Although the view is entirely that of the writer, it is based on academic experiences and scientific research they have conducted; it is fact-checked by a team of degreed medical experts, and validated by sources attached to the article.
The numbers in parenthesis (1,2,3) will take you to clickable links to related scientific papers.
Oatmeal And Diabetes: Is Oatmeal Good For Diabetes In 2023?
Oatmeal is a great comfort food for many of us. Whether it reminds us of Grandma’s house or even times when we were sick, it always evokes a certain warm, fuzzy feeling. Beyond the positive memories and feelings associated with our childhood, oatmeal has great nutritional value that benefits our overall wellness.
Oatmeal is a versatile source of nutrients that can be advantageous for weight loss and satiety. Also, it’s heart-healthy and can be a safeguard against cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the impact on insulin sensitivity can make it an effective choice for diabetes mellitus.
So, oatmeal and diabetes – do they mix? It can be when we consider the positive influence that oats may have — like on insulin response, coupled with other health benefits of oatmeal like heart health and weight loss support. In this review, we will discuss the advantages and drawbacks of oatmeal for those who have diabetes, as well as how to optimize the benefits best.
Is Oatmeal Really Good For Diabetes?
Yes, oatmeal is good for people with diabetes. By using rolled or steel-cut oats, you can get the most nutrients out of this high-fiber grain while avoiding the excess sugars added to instant oats. The soluble fibers present in oats slow down the absorption of sugars and fats into the bloodstream reducing sugar spikes and heart disease risk!
Nutritional Value Of Oatmeal
So, can people with diabetes eat oatmeal? We must look closely at oatmeal and its nutritive value as a whole grain. Whole grains are often an integral part of dietary plans implemented to aid in weight loss and diabetes management.
Oats consist of beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that reduces blood glucose and cholesterol levels. It also consists of many vitamins and minerals that drive the body’s metabolic processes, like zinc and magnesium. Supplementation could fill these gaps to assist with health management if you cannot obtain adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals from your foods.
However, talk with your registered dietitian to determine if you need it. You may explore supplements for diabetics that provide the nutrients to assist with blood sugar management and defense against inflammation. One great vitamin is the Ritual multivitamin, which provides B12 (necessary if you are on metformin for your diabetes) and vitamin E — to help slow down diabetes-related complications resulting from excessive free radicals formed from a lack of blood sugar control.
Oatmeal Health Benefits
The beta-glucan content of oats supports healthy gut function. Support for a healthy gut can lead to improved immune function as the gut is home to more than 70% of the immune system, which supports the efficiency of all bodily processes. The presence of healthy gut bacteria can attenuate the hallmarks associated with metabolic disorders, such as abnormalities in fat mass, triglycerides, and blood glucose.
Eating oatmeal can reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which usually has adverse health effects. This is an important factor because people with diabetes are more likely to have elevated cholesterol or blood pressure, are more susceptible to heart attacks, and are at greater risk for heart disease.
The soluble fibers, beta-glucans, control blood sugar spikes and insulin responses after eating oats. This may result in regulated blood lipids, ultimately stabilizing the blood sugar level.
The soluble fiber content is the key to satiety. Beta-glucans gel and coat your gut after you’ve eaten, delaying gastric emptying and pushing back the transit time through the intestines. This allows you to feel full for longer after you’ve eaten.
Not only is satiety increased, but digestion will be slowed down, and you’ll see a suppressed appetite. The longer you feel full, the better you will defend yourself from the urge to snack and give in to cravings. This will help you avoid overeating and consuming excess calories.
When we consider the nutritional benefits of old-fashioned oats and diabetes, we need to look closely at the metabolic-regulating properties of oats. These include reducing abdominal fat, body weight, and waist-to-hip ratio while improving lipid profiles.
These factors are relevant as dyslipidemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver, and increased body fat are all characteristics of metabolic syndrome and hyperglycemia. Note that metabolic syndrome can lead to a greater risk for diabetes.
For these reasons, among many others, it’s beneficial that the fiber and protein found in oats can prolong your satiety and curb your appetite. This assists with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight once it’s achieved.
Pros And Cons Of Oatmeal For Diabetes
Like anything wonderful, there needs to be balanced consumption because you may get too much of a good thing. Oatmeal is a great choice for diabetes and overall wellness, but there may be some drawbacks depending on how much is consumed and how we consume it. Food raises blood glucose, and often it is only portion control that gives us better blood sugar control.
- Consuming oatmeal, compared to other breakfast cereals, can protect against insulin resistance.
- According to randomized controlled trials, soluble fiber influences digestion and slows the breakdown of sugar but does not influence insulin sensitivity. Fiber promotes healthy bacteria in the gut and can alleviate inflammation and obesity, commonly associated with diabetes.
- Oatmeal is a good source of nutrients that support bone health, like iron, zinc, and manganese. This is relevant because there is a link between diabetes and bone complications, such as increased falls, fractures, and changes in bone density.
- Is oatmeal bad for people with diabetes? It can be when consumed in large portions because the excess calories contribute to weight gain.
- Eating instant oatmeal exposes you to added sugars that can raise blood sugar levels.
- You may choose plain cooked oatmeal, or whole-grain rolled oats to avoid extra calories. However, this may not be tasty without fats and proteins and can drive you to overeat other foods to combat hunger.
How To Eat Oatmeal If You Have Diabetes
As we continue learning about oatmeal, we can determine that oatmeal is good for diabetics type 2. Including oatmeal helps round out a healthy and balanced diet necessary for managing diabetes. Try to avoid the ever-popular instant oats that contain added sugar.
“Is oatmeal low glycemic?” The answer is yes, considering the slow digestion of oats leads to slower rises in blood sugar. However, we also must look closely at the preparation of oats because this can make a difference.
Oat groats are the entire oat kernel but without the inedible hulls. When the groats have been cut into smaller portions, they become steel-cut oats. The oat is the most nutritious and least processed in this form, so you’ll want to cook them this way and pair them with fruits like bananas or strawberries for breakfast.
Rolled oats are steamed, flattened, and dried to make them shelf stable. This preparation takes less time to digest, so the glycemic index is higher than oat groats. Instead of cooking rolled oats, they can be used to make pudding-like overnight oats by mixing them with apples or grapes, a choice of spices, and nut milk to be refrigerated overnight.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Proceed with caution if you’re following a gluten-free diet. By nature, oats are gluten-free but may be susceptible to cross-contamination during processing. Oats contain the protein avenin, which may cause sensitivities in people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.
Without adequate liquid intake, the fiber within the gut may swell and accumulate, causing constipation.
Oatmeal may disturb various gastrointestinal conditions that call for avoiding fiber, like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. The delayed stomach emptying caused by fiber may exacerbate gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis refers to paralysis of the stomach, adversely affecting the muscles and nerves in the stomach. In this condition, the stomach takes a prolonged time to move food into the intestine, which causes a blockage within the stomach.
The Bottom Line
Just as it was with type 2 diabetes, the answer is yes to the question, “Is oatmeal good for prediabetes?” Whether trying to prevent prediabetes from progressing or managing diabetes, the fiber content will be great for blood glucose levels management. It just takes adequate and effective use of oatmeal to provide the proper benefits.
Enjoy fiber-rich oats with antioxidant-packed superfoods like blueberries, peaches, or citrus fruits. Another way to dress up our oats and boost satiety is by adding fat and protein. You can even add protein powders to boost your nutritional profile and help you lose weight.
Whether it’s cooked bowls of oatmeal, overnight oats, or oatmeal balls, you can jazz up the flavor by tossing in spices like cinnamon or conservative amounts of brown sugar to control the amount. As we experiment with exciting recipes, be mindful that oat milk is good for people with diabetes when using the unsweetened kind with minimal ingredients.
+ 17 sources
Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here
- Hou, Q., Li, Y., Li, L., Cheng, G., Sun, X., Li, S. and Tian, H. (2015). The Metabolic Effects of Oats Intake in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. [online] 7(12), pp.10369–10387. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7125536.
- Gardner, C.D., Trepanowski, J.F., Del, L.C., Hauser, M.E., Rigdon, J., John, Desai, M. and King, A.C. (2018). Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion. [online] 319(7), pp.667–667. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2018.0245.
- and, D. (2023). Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity. [online] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity.
- Khawaja and Choi, J.-S. (2017). Clinical and Physiological Perspectives of β-Glucans: The Past, Present, and Future. [online] 18(9), pp.1906–1906. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18091906.
- Wiertsema, S.P., Jeroen van Bergenhenegouwen, Johan Garssen and Léon M.J. Knippels (2021). The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System in the Context of Infectious Diseases throughout Life and the Role of Nutrition in Optimizing Treatment Strategies. [online] 13(3), pp.886–886. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13030886.
- Myriam M.-L. Grundy, Fardet, A., Tosh, S.M., Rich, G.T. and Grillo, I. (2018). Processing of oat: the impact on oat’s cholesterol lowering effect. [online] 9(3), pp.1328–1343. doi:https://doi.org/10.1039/c7fo02006f.
- and, D. (2023). Diabetes, Heart Disease, & Stroke. [online] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke.
- The Nutrition Source. (2018). Oats. [online] Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/oats/.
- Devendra Paudel, Bandana Dhungana, Caffe, M. and Krishnan, P.G. (2021). A Review of Health-Beneficial Properties of Oats. [online] 10(11), pp.2591–2591. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10112591.
- Hopkinsmedicine.org. (2021). Metabolic Syndrome. [online] Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/metabolic-syndrome.
- Shen, X., Zhao, T., Zhou, Y., Shi, X., Zou, Y. and Zhao, G. (2016). Effect of Oat β-Glucan Intake on Glycaemic Control and Insulin Sensitivity of Diabetic Patients: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. [online] 8(1), pp.39–39. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8010039.
- Cronin, P., Joyce, S.A., O’Toole, P.W. and O’Connor, E. (2021). Dietary Fibre Modulates the Gut Microbiota. [online] 13(5), pp.1655–1655. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13051655.
- Katrine Hygum, Jakob Starup-Linde and Langdahl, B.L. (2019). Diabetes and bone. [online] 5(2), pp.29–37. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.afos.2019.05.001.
- The Nutrition Source. (2013). Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar. [online] Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/.
- Cristina, Marie-Eve Deschênes, Laurencelle, S., Godet, P., Roy, C.C. and Idriss Djilali-Saiah (2016). Pure Oats as Part of the Canadian Gluten-Free Diet in Celiac Disease: The Need to Revisit the Issue. [online] 2016, pp.1–8. doi:https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/1576360.
- Mayo Clinic. (2023). The do’s and don’ts of a low-fiber diet. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/low-fiber-diet/art-20048511.
- Health Information For Patients and the Community Diet for Gastroparesis The following suggestions can help minimize symptoms. (n.d.). Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/-/scassets/files/org/digestive/gastroparesis-clinic/diet-for-gastroparesis.ashx?la=en.