Is Consuming Raw Oats Healthy? Benefits And Side Effects

raw oats

What is oat?

Raw oats involve rolled oat flakes that have undergone heating during processing but not boiled for use in recipes such as porridge or oatmeal. Oats are basically plants which its seed, stem, leaves, and bran (the outer layer of whole oats) are used to make medicine.

They are commonly used worldwide and have a lot of health benefits to the body. Its botanical name is Avena sativa and can be consumed raw or cooked in various recipes. Raw oats are often used to lower cholesterol and reduce your chance of developing heart disease.

Also, oat bran and whole oats are suitable for high blood pressure; diabetes; high cholesterol; constipation; diarrhea; diverticulosis; and digestion disorders like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). They can be used in preventing gallstones, heart disease, stomach cancer, and colon cancer.

Raw oats are mostly consumed as whole grain. Since your body can’t breakdown the kernels, they must be processed, which includes the following:

  • Separating its hull from the oat groats
  • Treatment involving heat and moisture
  • Sizing and categorizing of it
  • Milling or flaking

Its final products are oat flour, oat bran, or oat flakes (also called rolled oats).

Oat flake which is a common breakfast for all can be consumed raw or cooked.

This implies that you can either boil them, as when preparing porridge or oatmeal or enjoy them cold by adding raw oats to shakes. However, all oat kernels undergo a heating process to make them easily digestible but raw oats are technically cooked.

raw oats

Read Also: 13 Surprising Foods That Keep Your Entire Body Healthy

Are raw oats nutritious?

Yes, they are. Oats are well known for their fiber and plant-based protein content, and several other nutrients as well. An 81 gram (a 1-cup) serving of raw oats have the following constituents:

  • Carbs: 55 grams
  • Protein: 11 grams
  • Magnesium: 27 percent of the daily value (DV)
  • Phosphorus: 27 percent of the DV
  • Zinc: 27 percent of the DV
  • Calories: 307
  • Fiber: 8 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Selenium: 43 percent of the DV
  • Potassium: 6 percent of the DV

Oats are also rich in soluble fiber, a particular dietary fiber that forms gel-like substances when digested, aside from being rich in nutrients like selenium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

The major variety of soluble fiber in oats is beta-glucan, which is associated with most of the grain’s health benefits.

Oats have adequate absorbable plant protein and provide the human body with more of this nutrient than many other grains.

Notwithstanding, oats protein structures are similar to those of legumes, which are known to be of high nutritional value.

What are the health benefits of consuming raw oats?

Since raw oats are packed with enough health-boosting compounds, they provide the body with several health benefits.

It helps lower cholesterol levels

Several studies have shown how raw oats helps reduce cholesterol levels since they are rich in the soluble fiber beta-glucan.

Beta-glucan acts by developing a gel in your small intestine. This gel prevents the absorption of dietary cholesterol and interferes with the reabsorption of bile salts, which are important in the metabolism of fats.

Another research deduced that daily doses of at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan can lower blood cholesterol levels by 5-10 percent.

Eating oat bran, raw oats, and other soluble fibers can modestly reduce total and “bad” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol when taken as part of a diet low in saturated fat. In each gram of soluble fiber (beta-glucan) consumed, total cholesterol level decreased by about 1.42 mg/dL and LDL by about 1.23 mg/dL.

Total cholesterol can be reduced by about 4-14 mg/dL when you consume 3-10 grams of soluble fiber. But this has a limit as doses of soluble fiber higher than 10 grams per day don’t seem to increase its effectiveness. Consuming three bowls of oatmeal usually about 28-gram servings per day can lower total cholesterol by about 5 mg/dL.

Consequently, a test-tube study shows how raw oats produces around 26 percent of their beta-glucan content during digestion, compared to only 9 percent for cooked oats. To some extent, they may affect fat metabolism and cholesterol levels.

The FDA recommends a daily intake of 3 grams of soluble fiber to help lower blood cholesterol levels. But this recommendation doesn’t match research findings; controlled clinical studies deduced that a minimum of 3.6 grams of soluble fiber per day is needed to lower cholesterol.

Suitable for heart health

One of the risk factors for heart disease is high blood pressure, which is one of the most prevalent conditions and a leading cause of death worldwide.

Soluble fibers such as beta-glucans in raw oats have been found to lower blood pressure effectively.

Food products containing whole oats that provide 750 mg of soluble fiber per serving can be labeled with the health claim that it may lower your risk of developing heart disease when added as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

According to a 6-week study involving 18 people with elevated blood pressure levels, those who consumed 5.5 grams of beta-glucan daily experienced a 7.5 and 5.5 mm Hg reduction in systolic and diastolic pressure, respectively, compared with a control group.

Similarly, a 12-week study involving 110 people with untreated high blood pressure deduced that consuming 8 grams of soluble fiber from oats daily reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the top and bottom numbers of a reading), compared with the control group.

Furthermore, a 4-week study involving 88 people taking medication for high blood pressure, 73 percent of those consuming 3.25 grams of soluble fiber from raw oats daily could either stop or reduce their drugs, compared with 42 percent of participants in the control group.

May improve weight loss

Increased consumption of whole-grain cereals like raw oats is associated with a lower risk of weight gain and obesity. Also, this may be because soluble fibers can help you feel fuller for longer.

Several studies have shown how increased feelings of fullness are associated with reduced food intake, as they help suppress appetite.

According to two studies which show that consuming raw oats increased feelings of fullness and suppressed the desire to eat over four hours, compared with ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. These effects were due to the beta-glucan content present in the raw oats.

So consuming raw oats may help you maintain or lose weight.

May help stabilize blood sugar levels

Blood sugar control is important for health and mainly suitable for people with type 2 diabetes or those who have difficulties producing or responding to insulin, a hormone that helps regulate the level of blood sugar in the body.

Studies have shown how beta-glucan helps control blood sugar due to its ability to form a gel-like substance in your digestive system.

The viscosity slows the rate at which your stomach empties its contents and digests carbs, which helps lower your blood sugar levels after a meal and regulate insulin production. 

Consuming raw oats and oat bran for 6 weeks significantly lowers before-meal blood sugar, 24-hour blood sugar, and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes. A similar study shows that consuming 50 grams of oat bran daily, containing 25 grams of soluble fiber, might be more effective than the moderate fiber diet of 24 grams per day recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

A review of 10 studies in people with type 2 diabetes discovered that daily consumption of foods containing at least 4 grams of beta-glucan per 30 grams of carbs for 12 weeks helps decreased blood sugar levels by 46 percent, compared with the control group.

May be suitable for your gut

Raw oats help improve bowel movement by increasing fecal bulk.

This effect is attributed to the insoluble fiber in raw oats, which, unlike soluble fiber, isn’t water-soluble and thus does not produce a gel-like substance.

The microorganism (bacteria) present in your intestines doesn’t breakdown insoluble fiber to the same extent as they breakdown soluble fiber, which increases your feces size.

Another study deduced that raw oats increase feces weight by 3.4 grams per gram of dietary fiber consumed.

It is also known that people who consumed high-fiber foods, like raw oats and oat bran, tend to have a lower risk of developing stomach cancer.

Notwithstanding, raw oats naturally contain oat bran, though you can also buy it on its own.

Another research deduced that daily consumption of oat fiber may be an ideal and low-cost approach to treat constipation, which affects about 20 percent of the entire population.

A particular study involving people with constipation discovered that 59 percent of participants who consumed oat fiber from oat bran could stop taking laxatives.

Enough research is needed to ascertain the following:

For dry skin: You can apply a lotion that contains oats (Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief 24Hr Moisturizing Lotion) to help lower your symptoms of dry skin.

Ulcerative colitis: Early finding shows that taking a specific oat-based product by name Profermin orally can reduce symptoms and prevent recurrence of ulcerative colitis.

A weakness of the bladder

Diverticulosis

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Disorders associated with joints and tendons

Nerve disorders

Prevention of gallstones

Stress

Anxiety

Inhibiting fat redistribution syndrome in people with HIV disease: People with HIV who consume a high-fiber diet, like raw oats, with adequate energy and protein may help prevent the accumulation of fats in their body. A one-gram increase in total dietary fiber may lower the risk of fat accumulation by 7 percent.

Itchy skin in people with kidney disease: Early finding shows that applying a lotion containing oats reduces skin itching in people having kidney disease. The lotion works effectively with the medication (antihistamine hydroxyzine 10 mg).

Impeding fat from being absorbed from the gut

Gout

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Kidney conditions

Opium and nicotine withdrawal

Skin diseases

Side effects of consuming raw oats

However, raw oats can cause intestinal gas and bloat but its likely safe for most people, such as pregnant and breastfeeding women. It is advisable for you to begin with a low dose and increase slowly to the desired amount, to help minimize side effects. Your body will get used to oat bran and its side effects will likely fade away.

Applying oat-containing products on the skin can cause some people to break out.

Specific precautions to follow:

Digestive tract disorders: People with digestive tract disorders including the esophagus, stomach, and intestines should never consume oat products. Consuming oats will block your intestine and prevent proper digestion of foods in people with digestive disorders.

Chewing problems or difficulty in swallowing foods: Individuals with swallowing problems resulting from stroke or if you experience difficulties in chewing because of missing teeth or poorly fitting dentures are advised to refrain from eating oats. The inability to chew oats properly can result in blockage of the intestine.

Recommended dosing

The doses below have been studied in scientific research;

Orally (by mouth)

For reducing blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes: Here, high fiber foods like whole oat products containing up to 25 grams of soluble fiber are used daily. 38 grams of oat bran or 75 grams of dry oatmeal have about 3 grams of beta-glucan.

High cholesterol issues: Eat 56-150 grams of whole oat products like oatmeal or oat bran, containing 3.6-10 grams of beta-glucan (soluble fiber) daily as part of a low-fat diet. 40 grams (1/2 cup) of Quaker oatmeal contains 2 grams of beta-glucan; 30 grams (usually a cup) of Cheerios contains one gram of beta-glucan.

Possible downsides of consuming raw oats

However, raw oats are safe to consume, it’s recommended to soak them in water, milk, juice, or a non-dairy milk alternative to avoid some undesired side effects.

Consuming dry raw oats could lead them to build up in your stomach or intestines, resulting in constipation or indigestion.

Furthermore, raw oats contain the anti-nutrient phytic acid, which binds to minerals like zinc and iron, making it difficult for your body to absorb them. This could bring about mineral deficiencies over time but isn’t usually an issue if you consume an adequate balanced diet.

When you soak raw oats in water, it helps reduce phytic acid’s effect on mineral absorption. For optimal benefit, soak your raw oats for at least 12 hours.

How to incorporate raw oats into your diet

Raw oats are highly nutritious as you can add them as an extra spice to your favorite yogurt or blend them into a smoothie.

An easy and nutritious way to enjoy raw oats is to prepare overnight oats by allowing them to soak in the refrigerator in milk or water.

These make them easily digestible in the morning because it has absorbed the liquid immensely.

How to prepare overnight raw oats

Here are the recipes to use:

  • 83 grams of raw oats (usually a cup)
  • 240 ml of water (usually a cup), yogurt, or a dairy or non-dairy milk of your choice
  • Chia seeds (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon of your preferred sweetener, like maple syrup, honey, sugar, or its sugar substitute
  • Fresh fruit (1/2 cup) of apple slices or banana

Procedure

  • Mix all of the above ingredients in a lidded bowl or jug to prevent the raw oats from drying out.
  • Allow the lidded bowl or jug in the refrigerator overnight.

Your chilled raw oats are ready to be served in the morning or you can add more fresh fruit along with seeds or nuts in the morning to make it tastier.

Summary

Having known that raw oats are highly nutritious and safe to consume, care should also be taken while consuming them to avoid unwanted side effects. For optimal consumption of raw oats, always soak them first to improve digestibility and effective nutrient absorption in the body.

You can always get raw oats and its products in a grocery shop. If you’re allergic to raw oats, meet your dietician or doctor for optimal advice on its alternative.

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