Not just great during pregnancy (plus beyond), this superfood benefits babies and even men who fear infertility…


We’re not kidding, oats are really a superfood.

We’re not talking about gooey instant oats, either, or sugar-filled instant cereal, which both highly processed and un-super. This whole-grain goodie — rolled oats and steel-cut oats — comes in many brands and many forms, some of which are organic. You can put oats in bread, muffins, cakes, even as a cereal-coating for prawns (doused in salted-egg sauce). But just what can high-fibre oats do for you?

1. Boosts sperm count

Oats — as well as other whole grains — are high in manganese, one of the minerals vital for healthy testes. A shortage of manganese is linked to low sperm count and infertility, among other things.

2. Boosts baby-making

Oats are packed with immunity-boosting vitamins (B, E and A), as well as minerals like manganese and selenium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. Besides enhancing your kid’s resistance to illness, calcium and potassium are also used in building his bones. Plus, one of the B vitamins — folic acid — is crucial for pregnant women as it reduces the risk of spina bifida, under-development of the brain and other disorders.

We mentioned that oats contains lots of fibre, right? So, you’re not going to need to worry too much about getting “backed up” when you’re pregnant.

3. Boosts energy

Packed with slow-releasing complex carbohydrates, as well as soluble and insoluble fibre, vital B vitamins, iron and other minerals, oats are an easy way to fuel up for a long day at work. Low in Glycaemic Index, it provides a longer-lasting boost if you’re planning a big workout! And since the soluble fibre in whole oats (that is, not the instant variety) is beta-glucan, you’ll feel full for longer.

What doesn’t this superfood do? It boosts nutrition, improves your “plumbing”, and even ramps up breastmilk supply. Read on…


4. Boosts bowel movements

The fibre (including lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose) in oats eases constipation. Enough said.

5. Boosts heart health

We mentioned beta-glucans before: They also lower cholesterol and help regulate the insulin/blood-glucose balance after a meal, and therefore, keep type 2 diabetes under better control. Oats also have antioxidants called avenanthramides that are said to regulate blood pressure and reduce the chances of heart disease.

6. Boosts breastmilk supply

All the blood-pressure stuff we just talked about? They also help nursing mums, seriously. The lower your BP and stress levels, the easier it is for you to produce breastmilk.

7. Boosts baby’s nutrition

All the above — the vitamins, the fibre, the minerals, the slow-release carbohydrates, the fibre — are great for baby once he starts to wean.

8. Boosts your (and bubba’s) skin health

The antioxidant avenanthramides in oats is great for those who itch because of eczema, psoriasis (dermatitis in general) and chickenpox. Oatmeal also lessens redness and irritation, especially from excessive sun exposure. To make a simple cleanser that does not strip moisture from your (or bubba’s) skin ― thanks to saponins in oats ― mix ground oatmeal with water (or goat’s milk, it’s up to you). Some of the proteins also aid in building the skin barrier function. Last but not least, you can use it as a decent scrub for your skin if you leave the oat grind fairly coarse.


Easy ways to incorporate oats in your — and your kid’s — lives

1) Oats as a porridge

Cook a pot on the weekend, and store in the fridge. When you want some, heat in a microwave (or steam it, if you don’t mind it watery).

* Stovetop “rolled” oats: Prepare twice the volume of water to your oats (1 cup water to a half cup of oats, etc). Bring water to a boil, then add oats (for less pasty results). Cook till it looks soft (10 to 20 minutes).

* Stovetop “steel-cut” oats: Three parts water to one part oats. Bring water to a boil, then add oats and cook till it looks soft (20 to 30 minutes).

* Microwave “rolled” oats: Two parts water to one part oats. Dump in microwave, but keep an eye on it, so your oatmeal doesn’t erupt.

* Slow-cooker “steel-cut” oats: 3:1 proportions, pop in slow-cooker, add some salt if you like.

* Overnight “rolled” oats: 1:1 proportions, put oats in, put a liquid in (water and a touch of salt, milk, nut milk, broth, even juice…). Some people add nuts and spice at this stage or throw it in just before you eat.

Then add anything you like to it!

* Want savoury oats? Cook your oats in chicken or vegetable stock, finish with shallot oil and add an egg and some cheese. Or stir in bits of bacon or shredded chicken (then add chives or shallots). Toss in some pork or fish floss, maybe some pickles. Think of it as something like congee or “chok”.

* Want sweet oats? Add fruit, chocolate bits, honey, jam (yeah, just stir it in). Add nuts and chia seeds for more fibre and crunch.

Oats for babies

We suggest you either grind it in a food processor before cooking (and then whisk as you cook), or boil it for longer, with more water, so it becomes softer (then blend it). And if it’s the first “solid” feed you’re trying with baby, refrain from adding salt or fruits — but go ahead and add in breastmilk or formula if you like. If your baby likes it, slowly start to add some blended veggies or fruit, just like you would any weaning food. And yes, it’s probably healthier than rice.

2) Oats as an add-on

* Grind the oats and use the rough flour to supplement your pastry baking.

* Add oatmeal leftovers to any recipe that uses oats — cookies, pancakes, cakes, muffins, waffles, pastries. Just remember to subtract some of the liquid from the recipe.

* Add toasted oats to your otherwise sugary breakfast cereal.

* Add oats to smoothies before you blend.

* Include oats in the coating for fried chicken or other battered yummies…

* Use oats in roast chicken stuffing, grilled stuffed capsicums and tomatoes, in casseroles..

Photos: iStock

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