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Oats for Diabetes: Health Benefits, Glycemic Index, and Recipes

Oats for Diabetes

cereal and oats for diabetes patients heart healthy grains

Oats for diabetes patients have a special role because of their low glycemic index, easy-to-make recipes, and stable blood glucose with little fluctuations.

Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body has difficulty in either producing or using insulin. Among the two types of diabetes, type 2 diabetes is generally more common.

Diabetes management includes diabetic education, medicine, dietary therapy, physical activity, and glucose monitoring. For all patients with type 2 diabetes, lifestyle modification, including diet control, is recommended as the first step.

People who have diabetes need to monitor their carbohydrate intake carefully. They must be careful of carbohydrate-rich diets, as these quickly break down into sugars which might raise blood glucose and insulin levels.

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This is one of the reasons why diabetics mostly look for carb-free cereals. So, it means whatever food you eat, has a direct impact on blood sugar levels. Eating high-fiber meals that are low in fat and simple sugars will help you maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Research suggests that diabetic patients must consume more than the normal recommended amount of fiber which is 14 g/1000 kcal.

Oatmeal has a slew of health benefits and may be a fantastic go-to snack for diabetics if portion sizes are kept in check. Cooked oatmeal has about 30 grams of carbs per cup, making it a good breakfast option for diabetics.

Health benefits of oats for diabetes patients

Oats might be a high-carb food, but they offer many health benefits for diabetics.

Oats have a Low Glycemic Index (GI)

The glycemic index is a value that is used to indicate how much a food raises blood glucose levels.  Foods with a high GI are bad for diabetics as they might cause a quick increase in sugar levels. Oats are one of those foods which have a low glycemic index (below 55) which makes them an excellent cereal choice for diabetics.

According to results published in the journal Nutrients in 2015, a meta-analysis of 16 studies on type 2 diabetes patients found that including oats in your diet helped reduce HbA1C, fasting blood glucose, and LDL cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes when compared to control groups. [Ref]

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Oats are High in Fiber

People often do not monitor their fiber intake, and mostly they do not know what fiber is and what benefits it can provide. Dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber plays a great role in managing blood glucose levels. It slows the breakdown of sugars and prevents a gradual increase in sugar levels.

The American Diabetes Foundation recommends that adults should consume about 25 to 30 grams of dietary fiber daily but sadly most people are not even close to these values.

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Oats are high in fiber that’s why they are a good choice for diabetics. Adding oats to the diet can help you get a sufficient amount of dietary fiber.

One study suggests that oats are classified as a different kind of whole grain because they are high in soluble fiber, β-glucan, and some micronutrients. The study concludes that the beneficial impact of oats on blood sugar and cholesterol levels is due to β-glucans found in oats.

These delay gastric emptying and slow down the absorption of carbohydrates which maintain feelings of satiety. [Ref]

Oats help in weight maintenance:

Obesity is closely related to diabetes and there is an increased risk among obese people to be diabetic too. So, if you are at risk of getting diabetes you need to maintain your weight. Weight reduction greatly reduces the risk of diabetes and also increases insulin sensitivity.

Oats are high in fiber, which maintains satiety, which might help control overeating among obese people.

One study that assessed the effects of oatmeal consumption on satiety concluded that lunch intakes were lowest after consuming oatmeal in breakfast in overweight participants. [Ref]

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Oats have anti-inflammatory properties

Another reason to consume oats is their anti-inflammatory property. Inflammation is the body’s natural defense mechanism. When you’re hurt or sick, your body releases inflammatory cells to aid in your recovery.

Too much inflammation, on the other hand, can be caused by some kind of disease (such as type 2 diabetes) or by long-term stress, poor food, and a sedentary lifestyle. Ongoing (chronic) inflammation puts undue strain on your organs, resulting in consequences such as heart and brain disorders.

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If there is inflammation along with diabetes, it increases disease progression and also raises the risk of other chronic conditions. Oats contain a compound called avenanthramide, which has an anti-inflammatory effect.

One study in which 22 patients with type 2 diabetes consumed an oats-enriched diet for 8 weeks concluded that oats consumption led to decreased microparticles in blood platelets that could contribute to high blood sugar levels and inflammation. [Ref]

Oats increase Insulin Sensitivity

Some studies suggest that oatmeal consumption might temporarily increase insulin sensitivity. One study suggests that a person who consumed oatmeal had increased insulin sensitivity and better glucose response. [Ref]

But this effect is only temporary and further research is needed in this regard.

Best Oatmeal Recipes for Diabetics

oats for diabetes patients breakfast
oats for diabetes patients breakfast

It is very easy to consume oatmeal but still get your blood sugar levels raised because mostly diabetics consume oatmeal with toppings that have a high GI.

Adding fruits or sugary snacks to your oatmeal will ultimately raise your sugar levels. Oatmeal can be made more nutritious and healthy in the following ways:

Choose less refined forms of oats such as Irish oatmeal which is less refined and more wholesome. Avoid instant oatmeal as contains added sweeteners.

Serve it with eggs, nut butter, or Greek yogurt as a protein or healthy fat. Adding 1–2 teaspoons of chopped walnuts or almonds can help balance your blood sugar by adding protein and healthy fat.

Add cinnamon to your bowl of oatmeal as it is rich in antioxidants, it may help in reducing blood glucose levels and improving insulin sensitivity.

oats for diabetes patients

You can add Berries to your oatmeal for a sweet taste. Berries also have a low glycemic index. This might give you a sweet taste while keeping your sugar levels normal

Use unsweetened low-fat or soy milk in your oatmeal preparation.

Do not add dried fruits because they are high in calories and have a high glycemic index

What do you think?

Written by Diabetes Doctor

I am an Internist practicing medicine for the last fifteen years. Over the years, I have learned that medicine is not about prescribing pills. True medical practice is helping people.
I do prescribe pills as well but the best results I get are when I motivate people to overcome their problems with little changes in their lifestyles.
Since most of my patients are obese, have diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, I am writing at dibesity.com when free.
Dibesity, I know the correct word is diabesity. Ignore this! Be with us.

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