The Power of Organic Oats and the Importance of Fiber
Written by Registered Dietitian, Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RDN
Oats reign supreme when it comes to whole grains for a litany of reasons. Oats can lessen blood sugar spikes when compared to other breakfast cereals thanks to the fiber, thus leading to better health and blood sugar management.
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate, meaning it doesn’t contribute to calories in the diet. It is dense, like the roughage or bulk found in plants, fruit, beans and whole grains, that ultimately passes through the body thanks to its density and bulkiness. For that reason, people seek fiber for digestion in healthy snacks like Kate’s Real Food and in fruits and veggies because of its abilities to relieve constipation.
Unlocking the Unique Health Benefits of Organic Oats
The health benefits of organic oats are quite impressive. Oats are a great source of fiber and contain lots of energizing B vitamins. Other whole grains like quinoa, barley, brown rice, and rye also contain fiber and similar vitamins to oats like iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils are also packed with fiber too. Some of these foods have soluble fiber while others have insoluble fiber.
How Oats Aid in Digestion, Weight Management, and Heart Health
Oats stand out amongst other high-fiber foods because they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in fluids whereas insoluble fiber remains intact when mixed with fluids (like saliva, water and gastric acid) so it absorbs that fluid and provides bulk, helping to keep you regular.
You’re getting both the soluble fiber benefits such as cholesterol and heart health management and insoluble fiber benefits such as satiety and constipation relief when you dig into your overnight oats, or munch on the organic oats in Kate’s Real Food Bars. When you can, choose healthy snack bars with organic oats and incorporate fiber-rich snacks into your diet to even further help reap these health benefits.
What makes oats' nutrition profile unique is that they are rich in beta-glucan, which is a highly viscous soluble fiber. This helps to reduce our body's insulin response and blood sugar spikes after a meal. The soluble fiber helps increase the viscosity of the food in the stomach which positively delays the absorption of the oat, leading to longer bouts of satiety and lesser blood sugar spikes too.
In addition to its help with the digestive system, weight management, and blood sugar control, there are a slew of health benefits when it comes to consuming fiber. For example, the fiber found in conventional and organic oats , flaxseeds, nuts (all found in Kate’s Real Food), beans, fruits, and vegetables help to vacate the body of bad cholesterol, known as LDL cholesterol.
In fact, fiber helps to remove unwanted sticky cholesterol through stool. This mechanism has a positive effect on heart health because cholesterol levels can decrease and won’t have the ability to negatively impact the heart, blood flow, and blood pressure.
Comprehensive clinical research has found that dietary fiber is key in the prevention of heart disease. That’s because dietary fiber reduces total serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol concentrations, helping to reduce the incidence of mortality from cardiovascular disease. Therefore, it is possible to lower cholesterol with a fiber-rich diet.
Studies have also shown that high fiber intake is associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure. Foods rich in fiber, like whole grains oats, can contribute to better blood vessel wall health and elasticity, leading to better blood flow and blood volume. Plus, in research high fiber foods have been found to contain beneficial nutrients that are broken down into nitric oxide, which may improve blood pressure through blood vessel expansion and vasodilation.
Research has pinpointed that the intake of whole grains, like oats, when compared to refined grains, have the ability to help with weight loss efforts. That’s because the fiber in oats may help reduce excess food consumption and energy intake throughout the day.
The fiber provides satiety, making snacking and overeating less likely to occur. Plus, the viscous fibers in oats have been shown to slow gastric emptying possibly contributing to enhanced feelings of fullness and satiety. These physiological mechanisms have been helpful for those looking to achieve weight management goals with fiber intake.
Increasing Your Daily Fiber Intake: Recommendations and Considerations
The long list of benefits of fiber for heart health has continued to prove itself again and again in research. Unfortunately, as a whole, Americans are not eating enough fiber, getting close to 15g a day. Only 5% of the population are meeting the recommended intake. Those that do not meet the recommended daily fiber intake are challenged to maintain bowel regularity, blood sugar management, and can have a higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease down the road.
The dietary reference intakes recommend 25g for adult women and 38g for adult men through food and not through supplementation. Children are recommended to eat the amount of fiber by adding their age plus 5g fiber per day. Healthy children and adults have the potential to achieve adequate fiber intakes through a varied diet, rich in whole grains, like oats, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
It’s possible to overdo your fiber intake if your body isn’t used to this type of tough-to-digest carbohydrate, so the best way to increase daily fiber intake is to add a few grams of fiber each day to your diet and assess how your digestive system responds. By slowly incorporating more, you can improve your digestion with fiber rich foods, like cauliflower, broccoli, beans, and oats.
Incorporating Fiber-Rich Foods and Gluten-Free Oats into Your Diet
While oats are naturally gluten-free, oftentimes gluten-free oats can get contaminated in the manufacturing and assembly process. So make sure to look out for labels that say “certified gluten-free” to ensure there is no cross contamination with other gluten containing products, like wheat, barley, or rye.
Eating enough fiber, coming from both soluble and insoluble fiber, can lower blood cholesterol levels, normalize blood sugar, reduce the risk of colon cancer and insulin levels and can even treat cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
A diet that is rounded in fiber is usually filled with other micro and macronutrients that are helpful in maintaining adequate health. Incorporating Kate’s Real Food Bars into your diet as a healthy snack will give your health a boost because it has fiber coming from not just the organic oats, but from other ingredients too like almonds, peanut butter, mango, and flaxseeds too.
Leveraging High Fiber Snacks and Protein Bars for a Healthier Lifestyle
The bars are great to help meet your fiber intake by breaking it into pieces, putting it on top of fresh yogurt with mixed berries, eating it after your lunch as a quick pick me up, or even enjoying it as a snack before or after your workout.
You can eat it alongside a colorful and crunchy salad for lunch or even crumble it on top of chia seed pudding in the morning to help enhance your diet with other fiber-rich foods. Choose high fiber snacks when possible and ensure you are always drinking lots of water to continue to move your digestive system along and keep you healthy as can be.