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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nutrition Myth: "Oatmeal is good for you"

Let me start by saying I don't think oatmeal is necessarily bad for you.  Consuming oatmeal isn't going to give you cancer, nor is it going to make you obese.  Oatmeal is a lot better breakfast choice than many common breakfast choices like pop-tarts and sugary cereals.  I just don't think it is necessarily good for you.  It lies somewhere in the middle.

Oatmeal is viewed as the coup de gras of breakfast options.  People will usually start a new diet regimen with oatmeal for breakfast.  Doctors and nutritionists will recommend oatmeal to their patients and clients to "lower blood pressure... lower cholesterol... look better naked!"  OK, they usually don't say that last one, but you know that's what most people want!

There are better options.

Oatmeal Nutrition Facts (from
1/2 cup serving size
Calories: 150
Fat: 3g
Carbohydrates: 27g
Fiber: 4g
Protein: 5g

Vitamin A 0%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 0%, Iron 10%, Vitamin D 0%, Thiamin 10%, Riboflavin 2%, Niacin 0%

In the past I have used the term "nutritional density".  Foods that are nutritionally dense have a high ratio of vitamins and minerals to calories.  It is easy to see that oatmeal is not nutritionally dense.  Oatmeal has a decent amount of fiber, but that's about it.  Other than some Iron and Thiamin, which represent merely 10% of RDA (recommended daily allowance each), there are very few other nutrients present in oatmeal.

Grapefruit Nutrition Facts (from
1 Grapefruit
Calories: 104
Fat: 0g
Carbohydrates: 26g
Fiber 4g
Protein: 2g

Vitamin A 56%, Vitamin C 128%, Calcium 6%, Iron 2%, Thiamin 8%, Riboflavin 4%, Niacin 2%
Plus grapefruit contains important phytochemicals and antioxidants that help hormone function and strengthen immune system, which you will not find in oatmeal.

Blueberry Nutrition Facts (from
1 cup Blueberries
Calories: 84
Fat: 0g
Carbohydrates: 21g
Fiber 4g
Protein 1g

Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 24%, Calcium 1%, Iron 2%, Thiamin 4%, Riboflavin 4%, Niacin 3%, Vitamin K 36%
Blueberries also contain high amounts of phytochemicals and antioxidants which you will not find in oatmeal.

I could go on for pages with examples of foods more nutrient dense than oatmeal.  Pretty much any fruit or vegetable is a better option than oatmeal.  And lets be honest; who really likes the taste of oatmeal?  Wouldn't you rather have a juicy orange, grapefruit or handful of berries?  Have an egg with that piece of fruit and you have yourself a very nutrient dense breakfast!


Agree, but Oatmeal does contain some phytochemicals of value. The secret is to combine oats with other things to enhance flavor and nutritional value.

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