Porridge is a hot cereal similar to oatmeal. While oatmeal often consists of crushed, rolled, cut or coarsely ground oats, porridge consists of any type of crushed grain, including oats, wheat, rice or barley.
Eating porridge on a regular basis can offer numerous health benefits.
Oats were a staple food of the Irish throughout our history.
Vast quantities of oatmeal were consumed in the form of porridge. With the introduction of the potato in the late sixteenth century, the prevalence of oatmeal porridge declined.
During the 20th century porridge became an increasingly popular dish on the Irish breakfast menu.
Fast forward into the 21st century and Oatmeal in the form of porridge has regained its well-deserved title as a nourishing and healthy breakfast.
It can even be found on restaurant menus as a gourmet breakfast option; described as homemade creamy porridge with cinnamon, fresh berries and honey, or as creamy hot oats with a generous splash of Irish whiskey.
Either way, what we’ve known for many years is that porridge is simply delicious and can offer a different breakfast every morning depending on what toppings you add.
Oatmeal is a rich source of soluble fiber, which is also found in apples, pears, prunes and barley.
Soluble fiber inhibits the body’s absorption of low-density-lipoprotein, or LDL, which is known as the bad cholesterol.
One-and-a-half cups of oatmeal contains more than five grams of fiber, which is enough to reduce your cholesterol level.
Reduce Risk Of High Blood Pressure
Since oatmeal is high in fiber, which is heart-healthy, it offers many cardiovascular benefits, including a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure.
It’s recommended that postmenopausal women, who tend to develop high blood pressure, should eat six servings of oatmeal or other whole grains on a weekly basis.
Studies show that men can also reduce their risk of heart failure if they eat one bowl of whole grain cereal or oatmeal, per day.
Full Of Antioxidants
Oatmeal contains a special type of antioxidant called avenanthramide.
Avenanthramides fight off free radicals that attack high-density lipoproteins, or HDL, which is known as the good cholesterol.
They also protect LDL cholesterol from oxidizing from copper, which reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Prevents The Arteries From Hardening
Avenanthramides not only protect against heart disease, they also prevent the arteries from hardening.
Those antioxidants suppress the production of molecules that allow monocytes to adhere to the walls of the arteries.
Research has shown that postmenopausal women who eat six servings of whole grains a week reduced their risk of developing atherosclerosis.
Which is the build-up of plaque along the passageways of the arteries, and slowed the progression of stenosis.
Which causes the passageways of the arteries to narrow.
When paired with vitamin C, the cardiovascular benefits of oatmeal are enhanced, so drink a glass of orange juice or eat some citrus with your oatmeal.
Stabilizes Blood Sugar
The benefits from fiber don’t stop with cancer prevention.
A high fiber diet will stabilize blood sugar levels and won’t cause the mid-morning slumps, which comes from eating a lot of sugar and carbs in the morning.
It Will Also Prevent The Development Of Diabetes
Aside from fiber, oatmeal is also a good source of magnesium, which regulates the body’s insulin and glucose levels.
To up the ante, add milk to the oatmeal. The boost of low-fat dairy can also lower the risk for diabetes.
Boosts Immune System
Oatmeal contains a certain type of fiber called beta-glucan fiber. This fiber protects against heart disease and also revs up the immune system.
It helps the immune cells seek out and repair areas or the body that may be fighting a bacterial infection.
Prevent Weight Gain
Eating food to not gain weight sounds like the perfect kind of diet, right?
Because oatmeal is so rich in fiber, it will make you fuller for a longer period of time.
Fiber will increase the viscosity of the stomach’s contents so that it will take longer to empty.
Feeling full for a longer period of time will also prevent the need to snack on sugary or salty foods throughout the day.
Research has linked a lower risk of obesity to children who regularly eat oatmeal.
Alternative for Gluten-free Diet
Adults and children who have celiac disease cannot eat gluten, but studies show that they can eat oatmeal although it contains a small amount of gluten.
So… Why Are Oats So Good for You?
Oats are high in energy, but low in fat, so they are one of the best ways to start the day. An average bowl of porridge made with water is only 171 calories.
Prolonged Energy Release
Oats have a high content of complex carbohydrates and soluble fibre, which means they release their energy slowly, so after a bowl of porridge, you should find no need to snack between meals.
Oatmeal and porridge oats are two of the few wholegrain foods that come out of the package as 100 percent whole grain.
‘Wholegrain’ refers to the entire edible part of the grain, which includes the germ, endosperm and nutrient- rich bran.
Refined grains are lower in fibre and other nutrients because the bran and germ are typically removed.
Oats are a low-GI food. The lower the GI rating, the better the food is for blood sugar levels. Unlike sugary breakfast cereals, porridge doesn’t send blood sugar levels soaring, only to come crashing down an hour later.
This is particularly important for people with diabetes.
Instead, foods with a low GI index, like porridge and oatmeal, help the body to keep energy levels steady, and keep the hunger pangs at bay for much longer.
As such, low GI foods are great for weight loss, as they keep you feeling fuller for longer, so you’ll want to eat less.
Oats and Cholesterol
Oats can help to lower cholesterol, and may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, when taken as part of a low fat diet.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by the liver and other cells in the body, which is used to break down and digest fat.
Cholesterol also comes from dairy products, beef, poultry and seafood.
When the body has more cholesterol than it needs, cholesterol levels in the blood can rise, and over time, may damage or clog the arteries.
Oats act like tiny sponges, actually soaking up cholesterol and carrying it out of the bloodstream.
Oats are high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals including calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, thiamine and vitamins B1 and E.
Oats contain more soluble fibre than any other grain. Soluble Fibre is essential for healthy digestion, helping both to maintain a healthy bowel function.
Oats contain folic acid, which is essential for healthy foetal development.
How to Select and Store
Buy small quantities of oats at one time since this grain has a slightly higher fat content than other grains and will go rancid more quickly.
Oats are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins.
Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the oats are covered.
Free from debris, and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness.
Smell the oats to make sure that they are fresh.
Whether purchasing oats in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture.
If you purchase prepared oatmeal products such as oatmeal, look at the ingredients to ensure that the product does not contain any salt, sugar or other additives.
At wolvesfitness, we encourage the purchase of certified organically grown foods, and oats are no exception.
Repeated research studies on organic foods as a group show that your likelihood of exposure to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals can be greatly reduced through the purchased of certified organic foods, including oats.
You may possibly be able to find a local organic grower who sells oats that has not applied for formal organic certification either through the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) or through a state agency. (Examples of states offering state-certified organic foods include California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.)
However, if you are shopping in a large supermarket, your most reliable source of organically grown oats is very likely to be oats that display the USDA organic logo.
Store oatmeal in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for approximately two months.
Tips for Preparing and Cooking
The Nutrient-Rich Way of Cooking Oats
Different types of oats require slightly different cooking methods for making hot cereal or porridge. For all types, it is best to add the oats to cold water and then cook at a simmer.
The preparation of rolled oats and steel-cut oats require similar proportions using two parts water to one part oats.
Rolled oats take approximately 15 minutes to cook while the steel-cut variety takes about 30 minutes.
Due to their consistency, oat groats require more time and more water. Use three parts water to one part oat groats and simmer for approximately 50 minutes.
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- A great way to start your day—add your favorite nuts and fruits to a piping hot bowl of oatmeal.
- Oatmeal cookies are a favorite for kids of all ages.
- Add oat flour or whole oats the next time you make bread or muffins.
- Sprinkle oat bran on your hot or cold cereal.
- Oat groats make a great basis for stuffing for poultry.