A bowl of plain oatmeal can be an unappetizing, sticky mess, but it doesn't have to be. In addition to the many nutritional and health benefits you get from eating oats for breakfast, there are many tasty ways to use oatmeal to make a healthy and tasty morning meal. Oats are also inexpensive, which increases their value in your healthy eating plan.
Nutrients in Oats
A 1-cup serving of cooked oats supplies 2 milligrams of iron, which is 12 percent of the 18 milligrams women need each day. Iron helps you make red blood cells, which distribute oxygen throughout your body. You'll get 2 milligrams of zinc from a cup of cooked oats, as well. That's 30 percent of the 8 milligrams you need on a daily basis. Zinc is necessary for your senses of smell, taste and sight. Oats supply small amounts of potassium, calcium and folate, too.
A 1-cup serving of cooked oats delivers 4 grams of fiber. That's 16 percent of the minimum 25 grams of fiber you should include as part of your daily diet. Fiber promotes normal digestion, and it also has powerful effects on your overall health. A 1997 article published in "Circulation" reports that eating high-fiber foods, such as oats, lowers your cholesterol. That can translate to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Oats also contain antioxidants called polyphenols. The specific polyphenols in oats might lower your risk of certain types of cancer, according to a 2009 article published in "Nutrition Reviews." The same article notes that the antioxidants in oats might reduce skin inflammation, itching and irritation.
Sweet Breakfast Combinations
A simple way to create a tasty breakfast is to add sweet ingredients to a bowl of cooked oatmeal. Stir in finely chopped apples, cinnamon and apple pie spice for a morning meal that tastes similar to apple pie. Add chopped walnuts, fresh blueberries and cinnamon for another sweet combination. Whisk oats into your favorite pancake or waffle recipe, top the cooked breakfast with all-fruit jam and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Make a yogurt sundae by topping plain low-fat Greek yogurt with oats, fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. For an indulgent, but highly nutritious breakfast, sprinkle a bowl of cooked oats with shaved dark chocolate and then stir in fresh blueberries and banana slices. Top the entire thing with ground spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Savory Breakfast Combinations
Add a sprinkle of garlic powder and black pepper to your oats when you cook them. Top the cooked oats with a poached egg and sprinkle the whole breakfast with fresh scallions and parsley. Make a creative twist on a breakfast burrito by topping cooked oats with scrambled eggs, onions, green bell pepper and fresh tomato salsa. If you still want the tortilla, roll the combination inside a whole-wheat one to add a boost of fiber to your morning meal. If you more time in the morning, try sauteing mushrooms and onions in olive oil, and then stir in cooked oats and top the combination with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Cereals, Oats, Regular and Quick and Instant, Unenriched, Cooked With Water (Includes Boiling and Microwaving), With Salt
- Nutrition Reviews: Potential Health Benefits of Avenanthramides of Oats
- Circulation: Fiber, Lipids and Coronary Heart Disease
- The Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes; Pamela Rice Hahn
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Iron
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Zinc
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.