Health Benefits of Oatmeal—Explained by a Nutritionist
Plus, healthy ways to incorporate it into your diet.
By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD 2022
Oatmeal Is Nutrient-Rich
Oats are also bundled with a variety of vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, B vitamins, and smaller amounts of calcium and potassium. That's an impressive vitamin and mineral package for a relatively low-calorie food. This all makes oatmeal a nutrient-dense ingredient.
Oatmeal Provides Antioxidants
Polyphenol antioxidants found in oats possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. At the cellular level, polyphenols have been shown to help fend off aging and disease by reducing oxidative stress. (Basically, oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body's ability to counter their unwanted effects.
Furthermore, due to their bodyguard-like effects, polyphenols have been linked to protection against heart disease and stroke, as well as type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Oatmeal Supports Better Nutrition
If you've avoided oatmeal due to its carb content, you may be delighted to know that this healthy starch actually supports weight management. A study demonstrated that regular oatmeal consumers score higher on the USDA's Healthy Eating Index, which is a measure of overall diet quality.
Whole Grain Nutrients
Oatmeal's status as a whole grain is one reason it supports healthy weight management and better overall nutrition. That's because, unlike refined grains, which are stripped of their bran and germ, whole grains remain intact, meaning they retain both fiber and key nutrients.
Oatmeal can also have a positive effect on satiety, the feeling of fullness that persists after eating, according to a small study. The researchers compared people's hunger and fullness levels after having eaten either oatmeal or, another breakfast item, oranges. The result: Not only did those who ate oatmeal have greater satiety, but they were also less likely to snack in the hours after breakfast.
Oatmeal's Beta-Glucan Fibre Is Health-Protective
A half cup of oatmeal provides about 14% of the daily value for fiber, but the type of fiber found in oatmeal is uniquely protective.
Supports Immune Function
A study explained how oatmeal contains beta-glucan, a fiber that's been shown to not only support healthy immune function but also reduce blood levels of cholesterol and blood sugar. For these reasons, regular oatmeal consumption may help lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.8
Acts as a Antioxidant
The article further explains how beta-glucan acts as an antioxidant too. In this role, it's linked to fending off hardening of the arteries, as well as neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease. Beta-glucan also helps maintain proper digestive function, prevents inflammation in the gut, and acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics essentially feed protective microbes in the gut and inhibit the growth of bad bacteria.8
Reduces Blood Sugar Levels
A study in 2020 looked at the use of oatmeal as a short-term intervention for blood sugar regulation in patients with type 2 diabetes.9 Oatmeal consumption resulted in a significant reduction in blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity. Researchers say the effect is due in part to beta-glucan and concluded that oatmeal can be used as a tool to both prevent and manage diabetes.
Oatmeal May Help You Live Longer
A 2019 meta-analysis found that oatmeal consumption may lower the risk of all causes of death, including heart disease, a leading cause of death in the United States.10 In their review, the researchers reviewed 33 previous studies to determine the relationship that specific foods had with either overall mortality or cardiovascular disease. They found that whole grain consumption, including eating oatmeal for breakfast, was linked to a lower risk of death from all causes, including heart disease.
Go for Unsweetened Rolled Oats - Avoid Instant Oats and Stay with those!
7 Health Benefits of Dates
Naturally sweet and super versatile,
this fruit is just so good for you.
By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD 2022
Dates Nutrition Benefits
A delicious snack that you can enjoy on their own or with nut butter, dates offer the following health benefits:
Have a variety of antioxidants
Are naturally sweet and provide no added sugar
Support digestive health
Protect heart and health and blood sugar regulation
Offer brain protection
Help ease natural labor
Dates Are Nutrient-rich
Three dates provide about 200 calories, 54 grams of carbohydrates with about five grams of fiber, a gram of protein, and no fat. This portion also supplies smaller amounts of a wide range of nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and manganese.1 In other words, dates aren't simply sugar bombs or empty calories.
Dates Have a Variety of Antioxidants
In addition to their vitamin and mineral content, dates are rich in health-protective antioxidants. One 2019 study found that dates are a good source of natural antioxidants, which can be used to manage oxidative stress-related illnesses.
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body's ability to counter their harmful effects. It's a precursor to aging and cell damage that can lead to disease. Dates also contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compounds, which means they may also play a role in combating infectious diseases.
Other research published in a 2017 study showed that dates contain many antioxidants, including carotenoids, polyphenols (e.g., phenolic acids, isoflavones, lignans, and flavonoids), tannins, and sterols. They also possess anti-fungal properties.
Dates Are Naturally Sweet and Provide No Added Sugar
Many people think of dates as dried fruit—but they're actually fresh fruit since no water is removed. And because dates are whole, unprocessed fruit, their sugar content is naturally occurring. In other words, if an energy bar is sweetened only with dates, the label can list zero grams of added sugar. That's key because added sugar is the type we should limit due to its association with an increased risk of heart disease and obesity.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day, which equates to 25 grams or 100 calories. The advised cap for men is nine teaspoons of added sugar, which is 36 grams or 150 calories. If you use dates to sweeten a meal or recipe, you haven't used up any of your daily added-sugar budget, unlike sweeteners such as cane sugar.
Dates Support Digestive Health
Three dates provide about 18% of the daily goal for fiber, which supports good digestive function. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2015 looked specifically at the impact of date consumption on the gut. Healthy men were randomly assigned to eat either seven dates per day or a control addition of a carbohydrate and sugar mixture for 21 days. After a 14-day washout period, the groups switched.
Researchers found that while eating dates, the study subjects experienced improvements in their bowel movement frequency and a reduced level of stool chemicals known to damage cells and trigger mutations that may lead to cancer.
If you've ever experienced constipation, you know how it can wreak havoc with your energy level and overall comfort. Dates can be a simple way to get things moving.
Dates Protect Heart Health and Blood Sugar Regulation
A 2020 study tested date consumption on both blood fats and glycemic index. One hundred men and women with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to eat either no dates at all or to add three dates daily for 16 weeks.
The date eaters experienced a statistically significant decrease in total cholesterol and "bad" LDL. And HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar control over the previous two- to three-month period) did not change in the date eaters.
The study suggests that dates could potentially have a beneficial effect on lipid profile, especially in reducing total cholesterol and elevating HDL, because of the high polyphenolic content of dates (polyphenols are micronutrients that naturally occur in plants). In addition, the study suggests that a low-moderate consumption of dates did not impact glucose levels because of dates' low glycemic index.
The findings are significant because blood sugar regulation and heart health are closely connected. People with type 2 diabetes have a twofold increased risk of heart disease, including heart attack; cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death among people with type 2 diabetes.
Dates May Offer Brain Protection
Protective compounds in dates are also thought to help guard the brain. According to a paper published in 2016, dates have promising therapeutic potential against Alzheimer's disease due to their ability to combat inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.
Date May Help Ease Natural Labor
One additional potential benefit of dates applies specifically to pregnant women. A 2020 paper looked at the impact of dates on labor and delivery.
Researchers reviewed previously published studies and concluded that eating dates may reduce the duration of the active phase of labor, the stage during which the cervix dilates. It may also improve the bishop score, a measure that rates the readiness of the cervix for labor. However, date consumption did not affect the length of the first, second, and third stages of labor or the frequency of cesarean section.
How To Enjoy Dates and Add Them to Meals and Snacks
Dates are my go-to sweetener in a wide variety of recipes, including smoothies, energy balls, oatmeal, overnight oats, chia or avocado pudding, and baked goods. I also use pureed dates to make homemade plant-based "ice cream" mixed with ingredients like plant milk, cinnamon, and add-ins, such as chopped dark chocolate and pitted cherries. You can also incorporate dates into savory dishes. They add natural sweetness and balance to garden salads, cooked veggies like sautéed kale or roasted cauliflower, and veggie stir fries.
One of my favorite year-round fast snacks is stuffed dates. I stuff them with nut and seed butters, herbed nut-based, plant-based "cheeses," and even savory fillings, like olive tapenade and dairy-free pesto. Of course, they're also perfect as is!
A Quick Review
Dates are a superfruit delivering a whole host of benefits to the brain, digestive system, and heart. These delicious fruits are antioxidants and can even help ease natural labor. Use them as a natural sweetener in recipes like smoothies or oatmeal, or eat them straight. However you take your dates, you're doing your body good.
5 Health Benefits of Raw Honey
All the health benefits of honey, how to select the best kind, and
creative ways to add honey to meals, drinks, and snacks.
By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD 2022
Honey is an all-natural and readily available option for improving upper respiratory tract infection (URI) symptoms. Several studies have demonstrated that honey possesses significant health benefits—the tasty treat often referred to as liquid gold.
Here's a look at the research on the health-protective powers of honey, how to shop for the best varieties, and ways to incorporate this sweetener into meals, snacks, and drinks.
Treats Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URI)
Honey may serve as an inexpensive alternative to antibiotics. For example, in a review published in 2020 in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, Oxford University researchers looked at 14 previously published studies on honey's effectiveness in relieving URI symptoms.
The researchers found that honey improved both cough frequency and severity compared to usual treatments—like over-the-counter (OTC) medications and antibiotics. Concern over antimicrobial resistance, which is partly linked to overprescribing antibiotics for URIs, prompted the analysis.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when viruses, bacteria, or fungi stop responding to medications (such as antibiotics) for treatment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That's a great concern because it limits the treatment options for URIs and other illnesses.
Likewise, another study published in 2017 in UIC Today found that honey may hold the key to curbing antimicrobial resistance. The University of Illinois at Chicago scientists discovered that an antimicrobial compound made by honeybees could become the basis for new antibiotics.
Fights Metabolic Syndrome
Honey may help people with metabolic syndrome (MetS). Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. According to the National Library of Medicine, to be diagnosed with MetS, you must have at least three of five conditions:
A waistline between 35 to 40 inches
High blood pressure
High levels of triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood
Low HDL, or "good," cholesterol (helps remove cholesterol from your arteries)
High blood sugar
Luckily, honey may help to improve those conditions. An article published in 2018 in the journal Nutrients reviews the protective effects of honey for metabolic syndrome. The article describes the following ways honey may be beneficial for people who have MetS:
Keeps blood sugar low: First, honey has a lower glycemic index than sugar, so it doesn't trigger a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels and helps enhance insulin sensitivity. Honey has also been shown to prevent excessive weight gain, although it should be consumed in moderation.
Improves lipid metabolism: Honey lowers the level of triglycerides in the blood and total cholesterol and LDL, or "bad," cholesterol, while increasing HDL cholesterol. Cholesterol is a substance in your body, according to the National Library of Medicine. If you have too much cholesterol, it can build up and cause heart problems.
Reduces oxidative stress: According to the 2018 Nutrients article, honey's antioxidative properties also help reduce oxidative stress, a mechanism in metabolic syndrome. In a nutshell, oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body's ability to counter their harmful effects, according to another article published in 2017 in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity.
For those reasons, the 2018 Nutrients article concludes that there is strong potential for honey to be integrated into the management of MetS, both preventatively and therapeutically.
Prevents Artery Hardening
Honey may have the ability to combat artery hardening, also known as atherosclerosis.
According to an article published in 2019 in Nutrients, honey contains over 180 substances—including natural sugars and many vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. In addition to its ability to counter oxidative stress, honey's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds are the key factors responsible for its protective benefits against artery hardening.
Supports a Healthy Gut
A 2017 review published in the journal Integrative Medicine Insights note honey's use in complementary medicine.
The review states that honey possesses prebiotic properties. Prebiotics help ferments beneficial gut bacteria, including bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. The researchers link that shift to stronger immune function and enhanced mental well-being.
In addition to its natural sugar and antioxidants, honey contains some nutrients, according to an article published in 2017 in the journal Pharmacognosy Research.
For example, while the amounts are small per serving, 31 minerals have been found in honey—including phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
In short, honey won't supply a large percentage of nutrients in your diet, but it's certainly not empty calories. Plus, researchers are still learning about the functional benefits of its complex makeup.
Different Kinds of Honey
One of the best ways to learn about the makeup of your honey and how it's been handled: Talk to the beekeeper, for example, at your local farmer's market. If that's not possible, always read the ingredients to be sure the honey hasn't been cut with other additives.
In a 2018 study from Molecules: A Journal of Synthetic Chemistry and Natural Product Chemistry, researchers demonstrated that buckwheat honey has the strongest antioxidant activity. And in general, dark honey showed better antioxidant activity than light varieties, except for goldenrod honey, which ranked high.
One note: You should never give honey of any kind to children under 12 months due to the risk of Clostridium botulinum spores. They can multiply in a baby's immature digestive system and cause serious illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Ways To Enjoy Honey
Honey can be enjoyed as is, straight from the spoon, or incorporated into various recipes. To relish the tasty treat, try some of the following ideas:
Use honey to sweeten tea and coffee, or whip it into a smoothie.
Whisk honey into homemade vinaigrette dressings and sauces.
Drizzle honey over oatmeal or overnight oats, pancakes, fresh fruit or chia seeds.
Stir honey into energy balls made with a nut or seed butter and add-ins like oats, dried fruit, spices, and chopped dark chocolate.
Use honey to make kale chips or to glaze carrots, beets, walnuts, or cashews.
You can also trade sugar for honey in some baked goods. Replace one cup of sugar with one-half to two-thirds cup of honey, and reduce the liquid in the recipe. You can even use honey to sweeten ginger or lemon juice.
A Quick Review
Honey has many beneficial properties like treating infections, fighting metabolic syndrome, preventing artery hardening, and supporting a healthy gut.
It's possible that honey may become an alternative to antibiotics. Honey also contains some valuable nutrients and there are many different ways to enjoy it. Honey can be a beneficial addition to your diet.
Go for Raw Honey, which is the only truly Beneficial Honey - others don't come anywhere close to it!
Note: You will find All References supplied on the Link Pages.
Some amazing Benefits here hey? Why not consider replacing those Breakfast Cereals that are highly processed (devitalized) and lacking in Nutrients and laden with Sugar and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and Preservatives with a Nourishing Wholesome serve of Oats with Dates or Honey? Or Homemade Muesli, lightly baked using low heat to retain Nutrients, or even make some Homemade Muesli Bars with these three ingredients, some coconut, chopped cashews or almonds, apple juice, powdered milk and cinnamon for breakfast, lunch or healthy snacks? You make them with low heat in a Dehydrator, and even add some Pepitas to the mix
if you like. Happy munching!
You can even top your serve of Oats with some delicious Slices of Banana, that also has an excellent nutrient profile.
Notice: The only ones really benefitting from Breakfast Cereals are Cheapskate Manufacturers who make maximum profits from our ignorance to Marketing Ploys - there's NO True Nutrients in there, but they are happy for you to believe it. And look at the Prices! Be Activists at Home - Come against Fake Foods!!!
I should add here that DATES are a rich source of POTASSIUM which is so often lacking in people who have issues with constipation. You need More Fruit in your Diet (Not Fruit Juice) rather than Laxettes which should be short term anyway. Please note: the Potassium should be taken in Food Form, not Tablets, because due to high doses, that could upset your Electrolytes. Dates and Prunes are high in Potassium and Magnesium which naturally Tones the peristalsis to get things moving. Vital: If you take Prunes, make sure to have a glass of clean water.
We need to come to recognise that the majority of cereals are devoid of Nutrients, except for a few artificial Vitamins that aren't really good for us - especially Folic Acid, which is a Chemical that has been known to give many people health issues. The real Vitamin is Folate, which is Natural.
"Be friends with Nature and Nature will be friends with You!"