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To determine which oatmeal is the healthiest and the tastiest on the market, I put dozens of brands to the test. I tasted budget-friendly Trader Joe's and Whole Foods 365 offerings as well as specialty oatmeals from brands like Wildway and Purely Elizabeth—and of course good ol' Quaker and McCann's. To keep the comparisons as fair as possible, all the oatmeals I tested and vetted are the brands' original, unflavored varieties. I cooked all of them on the stove (when possible) as opposed to the microwave.
Once I honed in on the most-delicious (least gruel-like) oatmeal, NAO Nutrition founder and holistic nutritionist Nikki Ostrower, MS, evaluated the ingredients on the labels. The end result? A definitive list of the healthiest oatmeals.
While all the oatmeals and hot cereals on this list are good for you, Ostrower has a few key takeaways to keep in mind. "Nutritionally, it doesn’t matter if it’s steel-cut or rolled, but I try to stay away from the instant, which aren't as nutrient-dense," she says. In general, she chose organic and non-GMO, but you should choose the one you actually like to eat. (Mornings are hard enough as it is.) "The protein and fiber content is pretty similar across the board, so the important thing is to go for one that tastes good so you actually eat it!" she says. After all, those extra superfoods like chia and hemp don't matter if the box is going to sit on your shelf.
Keep scrolling for the five healthiest oatmeals, plus a breakdown of the different types of oatmeals, how to best prepare them, and answers to all your pressing oatmeal FAQs. Grab your bowls—here are the 5 tastiest, most nutritious oatmeals out there.
A Ranking of the 5 Healthiest Oatmeals
1. Nature's Path Organic Hot Oatmeal: Original
The biggest thing I learned through taste-testing oatmeal is that it's all about texture—which, unfortunately, is a very personal preference. Some of the brands with superfoods, like chia seeds and hemp, are pretty crunchy. Rolled oats tend to be fluffy in texture, which I (personally) like more than steel-cut oats, which are heartier.
This one from Nature's Path is made from rolled oats and had the fluffiest texture of any I tried—and I loved it. Ostrower is a big fan too: "Nature's Path is organic and non-GMO—a big win in my book," she says. "I always advise looking for organic, because then you can guarantee it’s not sprayed with any herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides, and it’s not genetically engineered."
The only ingredients listed are organic rolled oats and sea salt—simple, but still pulling in eight grams of protein and six grams of fiber per serving. (The average oatmeal has six grams of protein and five grams of fiber.) Nature's Path was the clear winner when it came to taste and nutrition, but it's by no means the only good oatmeal out there.
2. Purely Elizabeth Original Ancient Grain Oatmeal
Made with gluten-free oats, flax seeds, quinoa flakes, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and puffed amaranth (all organic), Purely Elizabeth features one of the most nutrient-dense oatmeals on the market. "It's loaded with protein, heart-healthy fatty acids, fiber, vitamin B6, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium," our expert rattled off—meaning a lot of health benefits in one bowl.
The flavor profile is more complex than your average oatmeal—the seeds give a satisfying crunch and savory slant, but the texture is still on the fluffy side. Purely Elizabeth's 6-Grain Ancient Cereal was also part of the taste-test, but it was a bit too grainy. (Plus, Ostrower points out that while the 6-Grain variety is a cereal, it's not technically an oatmeal.)
3. Qi'a Superfood Chia, Buckwheat, & Hemp Cereal
Like the Purely Elizabeth oatmeal, this cereal from Qi'a (a subdivision of Nature's Path Organic), is loaded with superfood extras.
Real talk: It looks a lot like bird seed. But while the texture is crunchy, the savory blend isn't too overwhelming. Many oatmeals serve as a bland base for add-ins like fruit and sweeteners, but this one is satisfying all on its own.
While it's definitely a winning breakfast choice, it slides in at number three for being not as nutrient-dense as the Purely Elizabeth oatmeal or as tasty as the Nature's Path Organic. Still, Ostrower is a fan. "Again, this one isn't technically oatmeal, but it has omega-3 fatty acids, which act as a powerful anti-inflammatory and brain food," she says. "It also has zero sugar and salt, and is gluten-free."
4. McCann's Quick & Easy Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal
McCann's is a massive oatmeal brand—you probably grew up with it in your house (and maybe in your grandparents' kitchen, too)—and for good reason. This is exactly what oatmeal should taste like.
Light in texture, it doesn't have that stuck-in-your-mouth feeling of other oatmeals. And since the only ingredient is literally rolled oats, it serves as a good base for whatever toppings you're into.
While it's non-GMO, it isn't organic—a major consideration for Ostrower. Also, she isn't a fan of the "ready in five minutes" thing. "It's a little more processed, which means the body breaks it down more rapidly," she says. "For people who have blood sugar issues or are diabetic, they'll want to go for something slower-cooked." That rules out "instant" oatmeals, too.
5. Wildway Grain-Free Instant Hot Cereal
With walnuts, ground flaxseed, cashews, coconut flour, pecans, dried dates, and vanilla bean, this cereal tastes delicious. It's got some sweetness (thanks to the coconut flour, dates, and vanilla bean), while the cashews make it super-creamy.
Ostrower points out that it has seven grams of protein and eight grams of fiber—more than the average oatmeal. But there is one thing on the label that she takes issue with: the sugar content. "There are five grams in here, while the other brands hardly have any," she says. That said, this hot cereal is sweet enough that you can skip adding extras like fruit and honey, if that's your regular habit.
What types of oatmeal (and oats) are there?
Now that you’re up to speed on the healthiest oatmeals out there, below, Serena Poon, a celebrity chef, nutritionist, and reiki master, breaks down the different types of oatmeal (from least to most processed) and how to prepare them.
Oat groats are essentially the basis of all the other types of oats, which means they’re the least processed and most nutritious. “They are oat plants that have been cleaned, hulled, and heated and are a whole grain with the bran, germ, and endosperm,” Poon says. But, because they’re not as processed, she adds that they are the most laborious type of oatmeal to prepare. To do so, she recommends cooking them on the stovetop with boiling water for about 30 minutes.
Steel Cut Oats
Next you have steel cut oats, also known as Irish oats, which Poon explains are essentially the same as oat groats except they’ve been cut up into smaller pieces. She adds that they have a stronger, chewier texture than rolled oats and take less time to prepare (about 20 minutes on the stove) compared to oat groats.
Steel cut oats which are then stone ground are called Scottish oats, Poon says. They’re traditionally used to make porridge, she adds, and are prepared the same way as oatmeals and hot cereals on the stovetop for about 10 minutes.
Rolled oats are perhaps the most popular type of oats you’ll find at the grocery store. Poon explains rolled oats are oat groats that are steamed and flatted, making them quicker to cook. And, compared to other types of oats, they win in the versatility department because you can prepare them in different ways including on the stovetop, as overnight oats, or by adding them to baked goods.
Rolled oats that are partially cooked are considered instant oats. Poon says this allows them to be prepared very easily and quickly by mixing boiling water with the packet of instant oats and stirring until you reach the desired consistency. But, because they are processed they contain less protein and fiber than the other oat options.
Oat bran, Poon says, is not technically a whole grain. It is made from oat groat’s ground up outer casing, and is high in soluble fiber. Because it’s been broken down more than any other oat type, Poon says these are the quickest to cook. In just three minutes, you’ll have a hot, creamy cereal ready to eat.
The Best Oat Types To Use by Preparation Method
If you’re an overnight oats enthusiast (first of all, same), Poon says rolled oats are the best oat type to use. “These oats absorb the liquid well and will expand into a soft and creamy meal overnight,” she says. “Add rolled oats to a jar, pour nut milk overtop, and then sprinkle in spices such as cinnamon or cardamom.” She adds that you can also use instant oats to make overnight oats. However, they offer less nutritional value and the consistency may not be ideal. So rolled oats are your best bet.
If you’re more of a porridge type of person, which Poon describes is basically a creamier version of oatmeal, then Scottish oats is the way to go as that is what is traditionally used to make porridge.
Like to stick to the basics? Steel cut oats are Poon’s preferred oat for a traditional bowl of oatmeal. “They are highly nutritious, but do not take as long to prepare as oat groats,” she says. “Steel cut oats also provide a more rigid texture than rolled oats.”
Yes, you can use oats in baking, too. “This adds not only texture and flavor, but also the health benefits that come along with using the whole grain,” Poon says. For this preparation method, she recommends swapping some flour for rolled oats in recipes.
Is organic oatmeal better than regular oatmeal?
Like Ostrower mentioned earlier, opting for organic oatmeal ensures that the oats are not sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. “Glyphosate is a commonly used herbicide on oat plants,” Poon says. “This herbicide is labeled probably carcinogenicby the World Health Organization—though the EPA says there is no risk of concern to human health—and also may impact your microbiome and antibiotic resistance.” So, yes organic oatmeal is definitely the better choice.
Are raw oats more nutritious than cooked oatmeal?
Although you can technically eat raw oats, Poon doesn’t recommend it. “They are difficult on the digestive system and may cause issues,” she says. “Raw oats also contain phytic acid, which can interfere with the absorption of some nutrients.” By cooking or soaking the oats, you’re eliminating these potential consequences.
Is packaged oatmeal healthy?
The short answer is yes, packaged oatmeals can be healthy (see our top five healthiest oatmeals above). However, Poon notes that not all packaged oatmeals are created equal. Be wary of sugar content. “Many packaged oatmeal options are pre-sweetened,” she says. “Eating a diet that is high in added sugar can lead to inflammation, cognitive disorders, and chronic disease, so it’s best to limit sugar as much as possible.”
Do organic oats taste different from ordinary oats?
It depends. “Some people do have sensitive enough palates that they can taste a slight chemical aftertaste in conventional products,” Poon says. “Oats that are certified organic often mean that they were harvested and processed with greater care than a conventional product, which lends to increased quality and flavor.”
What can I do/add to make oatmeal less bland tasting?
The good news is there are tons of ingredients you can put in oatmeal to jazz it up. Think of oatmeal as a blank canvas. In particular, Poon recommends playing with overnight oats. Adding nut milk (opt for one without sugar or additives) gives the oatmeal a rich and nutty flavor, she says. Then you can get creative with toppings such as nuts and berries, both which add flavor and nutritional value. And if you need extra sweetness, Poon suggests adding a small amount of maple syrup, honey, or agave.
How can I improve the taste of oatmeal and keep it healthy?
To keep your oatmeal healthy, Poon says the most important things are to opt for oatmeal types that are organic and least processed and don’t contain any sugar, artificial flavors, or additives. Once you’ve got that down, you can pretty much add whatever toppings suit your fancy. For instance, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, Poon says you can experiment with savory versions of oatmeal toppings such as sea salt, eggs, avocados, and vegetables.
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"Steel-cut oats are the least processed [type of oats] and the best option health-wise," says Kylie Ivanir, MS, RD, a registered dietitian with Within Nutrition. "The fibers in them are very healthy for the gut, hormones, satiety, and weight loss."What is the best oat for breakfast? ›
If rating the best types of oats, the truth is that all oats are pretty good options, with the exception of flavoured varieties that contain added sugars. Overall, steel-cut or whole traditional oats are slighter better thanks to the fact they will be digested more slowly than varieties that are more processed.What is the safest oatmeal? ›
"Oat groats are the healthiest way to eat oats. Quick oats, rolled oats and steel-cut oats all start out as oat groats," says Gentile. "Oat groats are whole oat kernels that have been cleaned and treated with heat and moisture. This increases shelf life, flavor development, phenolic content, and antioxidant activity.Is instant oatmeal as good as regular oatmeal? ›
In fact, in the USDA nutrient database, instant oatmeal possesses the same nutritional profile as regular or quick-cooking oatmeal. The only difference lies in the glycemic index, which is a measurement of how quickly a food increases your blood sugar within a two-hour period.What is better than oatmeal for breakfast? ›
Quinoa is a great oatmeal alternative as it has rich protein and fiber contents, which help keep you satiated and slow the rise of your blood sugar post-meal. One cup of cooked quinoa packs about 40 grams of carbs, 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of dietary fiber and 3 grams of healthy fats.Which is better overnight oats or oatmeal? ›
This allows oatmeal to swell up and seep the liquid in their every pore thus making them a wholesome and satiating breakfast meal by itself. The bottom line is that overnight oats are better than regular oats nutritionally and even otherwise.Is Quaker Instant oatmeal healthy? ›
One of the healthiest instant oatmeals out there with no added sugars, colors, or artificial flavors, preservatives or sweeteners. At only 100 calories and loaded with heart healthy whole oats and fiber, it's great to eat a few times a week to make weight loss goals.What are 5 types of oats? ›
- Oat Groats. ...
- Steel-Cut or Irish Oats. ...
- Scottish Oats. ...
- Rolled or Old-Fashioned Oats. ...
- Quick-Cooking Oats. ...
- Instant Oats.
|#1||Oats, Old Fashioned Quaker||150 Calories|
|#2||Oats, Quick 1-Minute Quaker||150 Calories|
|#3||Oatmeal Quaker Oats||150 Calories|
|#4||Instant Oats, Natural Whole Grain Quaker Oats||150 Calories|
If you are particularly trying to shed kilos, steel-cut oats are better as they contain a high amount of fiber. The fiber content in it can keep you fuller for a longer time and control cravings for unhealthy food items. Eating fiber-rich food also improves the count of healthy gut bacteria.
Oatmeal's high fiber content and prebiotic qualities may benefit your body in more ways than one. Making oatmeal a regular part of your menu can potentially lower your disease risk, help your gut health thrive, make bowel movements easier and keep you feeling fuller for longer.What happens when you eat oatmeal everyday for a month? ›
No More Worrying about Calories
Now the scale looked a lot less menacing. A cup of oats delivered 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber to help lower body weight, improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. It also provided health-building minerals such as phosphorus and magnesium.
Eggs = More Protein
According to USDA, a breakfast with 2 medium eggs will yield approximately 13g Protein and 1.1g Carbs whereas a bowl of oatmeal will give you 2.4 g Protein and 12g Carbs. So if Protein is your priority for breakfast then the clear choice is Eggs.
Steel-cut oats, also known as Irish or coarse oats, are the least processed form.Which oatmeal is best for lowering cholesterol? ›
Whole-grain oats: Best bet for lowering cholesterol.What oatmeal is good for diabetics? ›
Steel-cut oats are best for type 2 diabetes because they are the least-processed version of oat groats. “Rolled oats have a higher GI than steel-cut oats as they actually have been partially cooked, making them increase your blood sugar faster,” says Kaufman.Is peanut butter good for you? ›
Peanut butter is loaded with so many good, health-promoting nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, iron, selenium and vitamin B6. Research shows that people who regularly eat nuts and nut butter, including peanut butter, are less likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes.What kind of oatmeal is good for high blood pressure? ›
Soluble fiber-rich whole oats may be an effective dietary therapy in the prevention and adjunct treatment of hypertension.Is instant oatmeal better with milk or water? ›
Simple tip #1: Make oatmeal with milk (or a non-dairy alternative) versus water. Not only does oatmeal made with water taste way less delicious, but you're also missing out on the extra protein staying power that milk will add to the breakfast. Water will also make the oats more gummy instead of creamy.Are Cheerios as good as oatmeal? ›
A bowl of Cheerios has more fiber (4 grams) than a packet of instant oatmeal (3 g), though both are made of whole oats. Just like oatmeal, whole-oat cold cereals whittle down your LDL cholesterol because they contain beta-glucans--soluble dietary fiber that traps cholesterol-laden bile in your intestines.
A bowl of oatmeal with a side of eggs makes for a wonderful healthy breakfast. It's got the perfect balance of macronutrients, it's energizing and super filling.Do oats spike blood sugar? ›
For many people with diabetes, consuming oatmeal doesn't have a lot of cons. Eating oatmeal can spike blood sugar levels if you choose instant oatmeal, laden with added sugar, or consume too much at one time. Oatmeal can have negative effects for those who also have gastroparesis, which is delayed gastric emptying.Is eating oatmeal at night good for you? ›
Oatmeal is one of the best foods to help get your body ready for bed. It's full of melatonin, the sleep hormone and its complex carbohydrates will help get the boosted tryptophan to the brain.Why soak your oats overnight? ›
When you soak oats overnight, it's almost like you're cooking them, but the process is much longer and slower, and it's done without heat. Soaking helps the starches break down and reduces the natural phytic acid, which may help your body utilize the oats' nutrients much more efficiently.Should I soak oatmeal? ›
Soaking not only softens the oats, but it also makes them more tender, quicker to cook, and easier to digest. In a side-by-side comparison, we found that unsoaked oats lacked that fluffy, creamy texture soaked oats provide. So, from here on out, we'll be soaking. Once they're soaked, it's time to cook.Is maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal healthy? ›
Is maple and brown sugar oatmeal healthy? The sugars in the maple syrup are a much healthier form of sugar than your refined granulated sugar. However, if you want to make this oatmeal even healthier, you can limit the amount of brown sugar you add in.Is Brown Sugar Oatmeal good for you? ›
Oatmeal's long-time compadre is a no-go if you're trying to clean up your diet. Brown sugar adds zero nutritional value—just lots of empty calories that will ratchet up your blood sugar. If you need to add a sweetener besides fresh fruit, opt for a natural one like maple syrup or honey.Is eating instant oatmeal every morning good for you? ›
Is instant oatmeal a healthy choice? Oats are one of the healthiest grains you can choose, so they can be a healthy choice. They are high in fiber, which can reduce bad cholesterol and help you stay full longer. They also enhance the body's immune response and stabilize blood sugar; plus, they're gluten-free.Which oats is best for stomach? ›
According to Burak, steel-cut oats are beneficial to your gut health because they act as prebiotics and contain soluble and insoluble fiber, which are both good for your gut.Which oats is best for skin? ›
Ground oatmeal can work as an exfoliant, sloughing away dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. People may also use oatmeal for cleansing, moisturizing, and reducing inflammation. Doctors typically recommend that people use colloidal oatmeal for their skin. This type of oatmeal is a finely ground powder.
If followed properly, the oatmeal diet can help you in your overall weight loss plan. The meal plans are low-calorie and low-fat and include healthy food choices. Oatmeal itself can help you lose weight because it will help you feel full longer than other foods.Is peanut butter good for weight loss? ›
Peanut butter is a high-fiber food that promotes healthy weight loss. It keeps you full for a long time, stimulates metabolic system, and has a low glycemic index, which allows you to achieve your weight loss goals .Who should not eat oatmeal? ›
Many people with celiac disease are told to avoid eating oats because they might be contaminated with wheat, rye, or barley, which contain gluten. But in people who haven't had any symptoms for at least 6 months, eating moderate amounts of pure, non-contaminated oats seems to be safe.Is cinnamon in oatmeal good for you? ›
Is Cinnamon Oatmeal Healthy? Yes! Eating cinnamon and oats in the morning is a great way start to your day. Oatmeal is heart-healthy, rich in carbohydrates to boost your energy for the day.What happens if I eat eggs everyday? ›
Eggs are also a great source of heart-healthy nutrients like potassium, folate and B vitamins. Some research suggests that up to two eggs per day actually improves heart health. As with anything, moderation is important, especially if you enjoy eggs daily.Can you live on oatmeal? ›
Oatmeal is a good option for breakfast because it can help a person to feel full for a long time. However, it does not provide the nutrients that a person needs on a daily basis.How much oatmeal should I eat a day to lower cholesterol? ›
But besides just being an Instagram-worthy bowl of goodness, oatmeal offers a particularly impressive benefit. Eating just one and one-half cups of cooked oatmeal a day can lower your cholesterol by 5 to 8%. Oatmeal contains soluble and insoluble fiber – two types that your body needs.Is half a cup of oatmeal enough for breakfast? ›
But in general, stick to a half-cup of dry rolled oats as one serving size. The number of calories in a cup of oatmeal this size comes out to 150 calories, leaving about another 150 for your toppings for a filling breakfast that doesn't turn into a calorie bomb.What is a good substitute for oatmeal? ›
- Brown Rice. Despite the rising popularity of ancient grains like quinoa, you can't beat a classic like brown rice. ...
- Quinoa. ...
- Buckwheat. ...
- Chia Seeds. ...
- Millet. ...
- Buckwheat and Chia Breakfast Bowl. ...
- Quinoa and Coconut Breakfast Bowl. ...
- Millet and Spiced Pumpkin Seed Cereal.
Yes, it is good to eat oatmeal every day considering its nutritional profile and health benefits, including weight control and heart-healthy effect. As a breakfast food and mid-meal snack, oatmeal is potentially a better option than the majority of foods available in the market.
Whether it's steel-cut or rolled, quick-cooking or instant, oatmeal is good for you, experts say—with a few caveats. Oatmeal is rich in fiber, which promotes fullness, eases the insulin response, and benefits gut health.Is eating oatmeal in the morning good for you? ›
Along with these positive benefits, research shows this popular breakfast can even support weight-loss and weight-management efforts. According to a 2021 review published in Foods, oat beta-glucan has positive effects on hyperglycemia, lowering blood lipid levels and reducing weight.Is oatmeal good for you every morning? ›
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT: Not only for weight loss, but even for those who wish to gain or lose weight, oats is a great breakfast option. They contain healthy fats, fiber, protein and carbohydrates, which is necessary for a wholesome breakfast meal.Is oatmeal healthier with milk or water? ›
Milk is rich in fats, calcium, and Vitamin D that complements the nutrients in oats. Thus oats cooked in milk have benefits over oats cooked in water. Milk has fats, calcium, and Vitamin D that is normally absent in processed oats.Is Quaker oatmeal better with water or milk? ›
Simple tip #1: Make oatmeal with milk (or a non-dairy alternative) versus water. Not only does oatmeal made with water taste way less delicious, but you're also missing out on the extra protein staying power that milk will add to the breakfast. Water will also make the oats more gummy instead of creamy.What is better for breakfast oatmeal or eggs? ›
Eggs = More Protein
According to USDA, a breakfast with 2 medium eggs will yield approximately 13g Protein and 1.1g Carbs whereas a bowl of oatmeal will give you 2.4 g Protein and 12g Carbs. So if Protein is your priority for breakfast then the clear choice is Eggs.
"By eating oatmeal every day, you can lower your total cholesterol level, reduce the 'bad' LDL cholesterol, and increase your 'good' HDL cholesterol levels," says Megan Byrd, RD. Byrd recommends even adding oatmeal into your treats, like her favored Oatmeal Protein Cookies recipe.What will happen if you start eating oats every day? ›
Daily consumption of oatmeal helps improve metabolism, accelerating weight loss. Breakfast based on oatmeal over a long time period allows us to refrain from excess calorie intake. The slow carbohydrates contained in it, allow us to regulate appetite and anxiety and maintain normal blood sugar levels.What should I eat with my oatmeal in the morning? ›
To sweeten oatmeal without going overboard on refined sugar, try these additions: Fresh fruit: berries, bananas, apples, peaches, mango, or pears. Spices: cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or nutmeg. Natural sweeteners: a dash of maple syrup or honey.
Additionally, Quaker provides so many flavor choices, as well as better-for-you options to meet people's preferences, like plain and reduced sugar, so there's no need to skip out or think that instant oats aren't healthy. Instant oats are definitely a great way for consumers to enjoy a healthy breakfast.
Oatmeal's long-time compadre is a no-go if you're trying to clean up your diet. Brown sugar adds zero nutritional value—just lots of empty calories that will ratchet up your blood sugar.What's the difference between oatmeal and oats? ›
Technically, oats refers to the whole grains themselves, and oatmeal to the porridge-like dish often made from them, and/or to the processed form of the whole grains—but now, the terms are often used interchangeably.How much oatmeal should I eat a day? ›
One cup of cooked oatmeal is a healthy serving size, says Jessica Crandall Snyder, RDN, CDCES, the CEO of Vital RD in Centennial, Colorado.Can eating oatmeal everyday lower cholesterol? ›
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.