There are many health benefits of eating oats and if you are already aware of this and have gone out to buy oats, then you can be excused for a little confusion; why are there three types of oats and which type is best?
What are they and what if I pick the wrong one for me?
First the raw oats are cleaned and sieved and then the outer hulls are removed by being thrown and tumbled in a machine. That way there are no bits of dirt for you to chew on when you are taking a mouthful of porridge. After having air blown at them to remove the loose hulls, the oats are then roasted.
The three different types of oats you will then see are the result of the differences in the next process.
Steel Cut Oats
Why buy steel cut oats? These are the ones that usually need the longest cooking, about 30 minutes. So why bother with steel cut? Aside from the previous process described, the thing about steel cut oats is that they are cut down and then that it is it. No more processing. So therefore you get the maximum amounts of nutrients. If you see Scotch or Irish oats these are just Steel Cut Oats under a different name.
Steamed, flattened, rolled and toasted, rolled oats have a reduced cooking time of 15 minutes compared to the 30 minutes of Steel Oats. But what does it do to the nutritional value of the oats? There will be less dietary fibre and a small amount of reduction of the nutrients due to the steaming. You will get the same nutrients just in slightly smaller amounts.
With instant oats the oats are cut down into smaller pieces before steaming and pressing like rolled oats. The smaller size means much quicker cooking times although the texture may or may not be to your liking. Like rolled oats there is a certain amount of reduction in nutrients, but a much quicker cooking time.
So, we have three lots of oats in different packages next to each other on the shelf. Which do you pick? Perhaps you pick the steel cut because frankly you can’t stand the idea of having less nutrients than should be in there. That would be the choice for you if you are prepared to wait another 15 minutes every time you cook them, because nutrition is more important to you than anything else.
Why might you pick the rolled oats over the instant oats? The advantage of the instant oats is clearly the very reduced cooking time. If you are someone who is always in a hurry, extremely busy or who just is plain impatient, then the ease and regularity of the instant oats is the choice for you.
If you are someone who doesn’t a slight reduction in nutritional amounts, favours a reduced cooking time, but does not like the texture of instant oats, then rolled oats are your perfect choice.