Q: Is instant oatmeal healthy?
Oz Says: I prefer the texture of rolled or steel-cut oats, but certain types of instant can be just as good for you — as long as you choose the plain ones, not the flavored kinds that come with extra sugar and calories. Even so, expect them to be a little different from their longer-cooking siblings.
"Instant oats are cut into small pieces and then steamed and flattened so that they cook faster, but the nutrients remain mostly the same," says Caroline Passerrello, RD, a Pittsburgh-based dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
This smaller size may give them a slightly higher glycemic index, which means your body digests them faster, causing a bigger rise in blood sugar, but the difference is minor.
Add flavor with fruit and spices, or give yourself a nice warm wake-up with combos such as cocoa powder and vanilla extract, canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice, or dried apples and ground ginger. For an extra fill-you-up factor, mix in protein-rich foods like nuts, milk, or yogurt.
The Faster Route to Slow-Cooked Oats
Cook a few batches of oatmeal at a time: Pour into lightly greased muffin tins and freeze for about 5 hours. Transfer the oatmeal pucks to a freezer bag. In the morning, put 2 into a bowl and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes.
Make breakfast while you sleep: Mix equal parts oats and milk and put in the fridge at night; no cooking needed. In the A.M., eat it cold or hot with your favorite toppings.
This story originally appeared in the January/February 2017 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.
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