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Is oatmeal good for people with diabetes?

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Oatmeal is often touted as a great breakfast option, and you may have been told that oatmeal is especially good for people with diabetes.

But is it really true? Is oatmeal a good choice when it comes to diabetes management, or will it wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels?

This article explains why oatmeal is often recommended for diabetics, how oatmeal generally affects blood sugar levels (including the science behind it), and what types of oatmeal, if any, are available. Let’s take a look at whether you should add oatmeal to your diet. daily routine.

bowl of oatmeal on the table

Key Point

  • Rich in fiber and nutrients, oatmeal is often recommended for diabetics because it may slow the absorption of sugar and prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • Research supports the consumption of oatmeal to manage type 2 diabetes, showing that it may reduce postprandial blood sugar spikes and reduce insulin requirements.
  • The type of oatmeal is important, and steel-cut oats are the least processed and have a lower glycemic index, making them better suited for blood sugar control compared to more processed varieties like instant oats.
  • Because individual reactions to oatmeal vary, people with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar levels after eating this food to determine its impact and make dietary adjustments as needed.

table of contents

What are the health benefits of oats?

Oatmeal is made by cooking rolled or steel-cut oats in a warm liquid, such as water or milk. A bowl of hot oatmeal is like a warm hug and is loved by most people for its flavor, nutritional value, and health benefits.

Oats are rich in nutrients like Dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble), phosphorus, thiamin, magnesium, and zinc.

Water-soluble dietary fiber is known for its gelling effect. Lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels Reduces the risk of heart disease by slowing digestion and absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. This gelling property also contributes to oats’ ability to manage hunger, which can also aid in weight management by keeping you feeling fuller longer after a meal.

Soluble fiber also slows down absorption of sugar It is excreted from the gastrointestinal tract and prevents the rise in blood sugar and insulin levels after meals.

Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, supports digestive health by increasing stool volume.

(If you are not used to consuming large amounts of fiber, try consuming this food slowly. drink a lot of water To prevent constipation. )

What does the science say about oats and diabetes?

All the science supports eating oatmeal for people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. However, very little research is available regarding type 1 diabetes and oatmeal.

A large study that followed 75,000 adults for 14 years found that eating the soluble fiber found in oats lowers blood sugar levels, potentially lowering blood sugar levels. Risk of developing diabetes.

2020 Review of 8 studies Approximately 470,000 participants investigated the effects of oats on diabetes management, revealing significant benefits. It turns out that regular consumption of oats can not only reduce postprandial blood sugar spikes, but also potentially reduce the need for insulin in people with type 2 diabetes.

The study further suggests that, beyond immediate blood sugar control, oats may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and even reduce all-cause mortality, leading to lower diabetes and overall The value of oats in a balanced diet for health is highlighted.

Although the currently available research is very promising, researchers continue to recommend clinical trials to confirm the benefits of oats.

Is oatmeal a carbohydrate?

One of the main reasons why it’s a little difficult to understand whether oatmeal is good for people living with diabetes is because oatmeal is a carbohydrate (a “carbohydrate”) For the most part, it’s all about keeping your carbohydrate intake under control and keeping your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.

Carbohydrates are the main nutrients that are converted to glucose, causing immediate changes in blood sugar levels. (Proteins and fats can also affect blood sugar, but their effects are generally slower and less direct than carbohydrates.)

When we think of carbohydrates, we often think of bread, candy, and soda, but in reality, most foods contain carbohydrates and have some effect on blood sugar levels.

And the same applies to oats. Oats contain very limited natural sugars, but since they are primarily made up of carbohydrates, they do have some impact on blood sugar levels.

Which oatmeal is best for people with diabetes?

Oatmeal is made from many different types of oatmeal, but not all are created equal when it comes to managing blood sugar levels.

In general, the type of oats you choose for your oatmeal should be the least processed and have a relatively low glycemic index (GI).

What we can learn from the glycemic index of foods Immediately affects blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and want to suppress the rise in blood sugar levels, it is ideal to choose foods with a low GI value.

Pure glucose (sugar) has a GI value of 100. Oatmeal made with rolled oats or steel cut oats has a GI of 100. GI 48-53On the other hand, oatmeal made from more processed oats, such as instant oats, has G.I.76.

steel cut oats

This means it’s the least processed type of oatmeal and retains all the fiber and other nutrients that make oatmeal healthy.

It consists only of oats cut in half. This type of oat has more fiber than other types of oats, making it ideal from a blood sugar level standpoint.

Keep in mind that steel-cut oats may take a little longer to cook and will have a slightly different texture and flavor than other types of oatmeal. Generally, the cooking time for steel cut based oatmeal is 20 hours. Let it sit for about 30 minutes and you’ll have a chewy porridge.

One serving (1/4 cup, dry) of steel cut oats contains::

  • Calories: 150
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 2.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 27 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 4 grams

Rolled oats (old fashioned oats)

These oats are steamed and flattened, making them easier to cook but slightly reducing their fiber and vitamin content. While still good from a blood sugar standpoint, some people may experience a higher blood sugar rise than steel cut oats.

Because it’s processed, it only takes 2 to 5 minutes to cook oatmeal with rolled oats. Rolled oats can also be used in place of flour in a variety of other dishes.

What’s in 1 serving (1/2 cup, dried) of rolled oats?:

  • Calories: 150
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 27 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 4 grams

instant oats or quick oats

These oats are rolled oats that have been further processed. The plain version has about the same nutritional value as rolled oats, but has a higher glycemic index.

From a blood sugar perspective, this means that quick oats have the most dramatic impact on blood sugar levels of the three types of oats.

It’s also important to read nutrition labels, as packets of instant oats often contain other ingredients such as sugar and fruit.

One serving of plain instant oats (1 pack, dry) contains::

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 21 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 3 grams

Effects of oatmeal on blood sugar levels

Whether oatmeal spikes your blood sugar levels depends on the type of oatmeal you choose and how your body reacts to it.

We are all different and each person reacts differently when eating certain types of foods. This is why it’s important to measure your blood sugar levels after meals using a glucose meter or continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to learn how you react to different types of foods.

read When should you test your blood sugar levels? Learn more about when and how often to check.

Registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist ariel warren suggests aiming for blood sugar levels below 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L) 1 to 2 hours after finishing a meal.

If you want a more moderate goal, aim for less than 180 mg/dL (10 mmol/L) 1 to 2 hours after a meal. (Ask your health care provider to make sure these goals are safe and appropriate for you.)

If your blood sugar is above 140 to 180 mg/dL (7.8 to 10 mmol/L) 1 to 2 hours after you finish eating oatmeal, this food may not be a good option for you. Or you can try it. Depending on how you manage your diabetes, reduce your portion size or change your insulin dose.

Avoiding added sweeteners like maple syrup and consuming oatmeal with healthy fats and proteins like nut butters, eggs, and Greek yogurt can help keep blood sugar levels more stable.

Certain conditions, such as gastroparesis (a condition that causes delayed stomach emptying), can also make it a bit difficult to enjoy high-fiber foods like oatmeal.

Oatmeal is generally considered a good food for diabetics, but other symptoms and overall health should be considered.

How to manage blood sugar levels when eating oatmeal

To establish how oatmeal affects blood sugar levels and optimize blood sugar management from there, no matter what type of diabetes you have or how you manage your blood sugar levels. need to adapt.

non-insulin dependent diabetes

If you don’t manage your diabetes with insulin and rely on diet and exercise, metformin, and other oral or injectable diabetes medications, your options for lowering blood sugar levels after meals are limited.

If you observe your blood sugar levels above 140-180 mg/dL (7.8-10 mmol/L) 1-2 hours after enjoying your oatmeal, try eating less or going for a walk after eating. please try.Even a short walk can be a good option lower blood sugar levels.

If your blood sugar spikes and stays high no matter what you do, you may want to reconsider whether oatmeal should be your daily breakfast option.

insulin dependent diabetes

When managing diabetes with insulin, you should first focus on calculating the appropriate insulin dose for your diet. You also need to consider when you give your insulin and how quickly what you eat is converted to glucose in your bloodstream.

When it comes to calculating insulin doses, carb counting is considered the gold standard for successful blood sugar management.

Learning how to count carbohydrates can be a little scary at first, but your endocrinologist should be able to refer you to a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) if you need a little help.

Finally: Should people with diabetes eat oatmeal?

Just as there is no one best “diabetic diet,” there is no single food that works for everyone, and that includes oatmeal.

Oatmeal has many great health benefits, and studies have shown that oatmeal is beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes as well as prediabetes.

But ultimately we’re all different and your blood sugar response to eating oatmeal may be different than mine, so know what works for you. That is important.

This means that you should measure your blood sugar levels before and after eating oatmeal to understand how oatmeal affects your blood sugar levels.

Do it a few times and you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether oatmeal is a good choice for your daily breakfast or something you just enjoy every once in a while.

Always contact your diabetes care team with any questions or concerns.

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