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February 15, 2016 | 2 minute read

Is steel-cut oatmeal more nutritious than other kinds of oatmeal?

Q: Is steel-cut oatmeal more nutritious than other kinds of oatmeal?

A: Despite its super-nutritious image, steel-cut oats are similar in nutrition to other forms of oatmeal that don’t contain added sugar or sodium. All forms of oatmeal are whole-grain, containing the same vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber (including the soluble fiber shown to lower blood cholesterol). Both steel-cut and rolled oats are relatively slow to raise blood sugar and therefore classified as low in glycemic index (GI), an estimate of how a carbohydrate food affects blood sugar. Traditional oatmeal is referred to as rolled oats, because the whole-grain oats are softened by steam and flattened on rollers to form flakes. Steel-cut oats, also known as Irish or Scotch oatmeal, are oats cut by steel blades into small pieces without being flattened. Quick-cooking (one-minute) and instant oatmeal are steamed, cut and flattened in progressively smaller pieces to cook more quickly.

Most of these basic kinds of oatmeal differ mainly in cooking time and texture. Steel-cut takes longest to cook and has a heartier, chewier texture. Quick-cooking oatmeal is 100 percent oats and has zero sodium. A serving of instant oatmeal may seem lower in fiber than other forms when you check label information, but that’s only because a packet usually makes a smaller serving. Instant oatmeal does have added salt with one packet having about the same amount of sodium as in 20 potato chips, almost one-tenth of the most sodium you should have in one day. Moreover, many varieties of instant oatmeal contain almost three packets of added sugar (12 grams). A few varieties of flavored instant oatmeal use zero-calorie sweeteners instead of sugar, and some add gums or soy protein isolate to add additional fiber or protein. Make sure to check Nutrition Facts panel information at the store to see what’s in oatmeal so you can compare the added sugar and sodium among the options.

4 comments on “Is steel-cut oatmeal more nutritious than other kinds of oatmeal?

  1. lorraine amy douglas on

    I am a cancer surviver and am having no success in finding a fiber that will enable me to have a bowel movememt. I have tried steel cut oats with the fiber methycellulose and that doesn’t work either . I have very bad side effects. I need help very soon or I don’t know what I will do. I am desperate please help me. Thank you

    • Sheena on

      Hi Lorraine,
      Take a look at AICR’s library of delicious recipes by visiting our Healthy Recipe Page. Each recipe includes a nutrition analysis including fiber content which you may find helpful. Our recipe are specially crafted to support cancer prevention and survival.

    • Sheena on

      Hi Dick, great question! Oats are naturally gluten free, however they may come in contact with gluten-containing grains (like wheat, rye and barley) at the farm, in storage or during processing or transportation. There are several brands of oats and oatmeal that are labeled as Gluten-Free Oats (and are required to meet FDA’s regulation of gluten-free) and those that are Certified Gluten-Free Oats (certified by a third-party to ensure that effective quality measures have been taken throughout the manufacturing process).


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