The Difference Between Oats And Oatmeal

Whether it's in the form of a steaming bowl topped with fruits and nuts, or a batch of overnight oats, oatmeal is a well-known and beloved breakfast option across the U.S., and for good reason too. This humble breakfast food can be customized to fit any palette, whether you enjoy classic flavors like cinnamon, maple, and brown sugar or maybe you want to experiment with savory flavors and mix in cheddar, then top it with a fried egg

However you choose to make it, this warm bowl of breakfast comfort is a healthy option for the pickiest of kids or reluctant adults looking for a better breakfast option. According to Healthline, oats are one of the most nutrient-packed grains on the planet and are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They're also a good source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Research has shown that eating oats and oatmeal can help reduce cholesterol levels, help control blood sugar, and help with weight management.

Whether you opt for steel-cut, quick oats, or rolled oats, all three will give you these amazing health benefits, but is there a significant difference between oats and oatmeal?

Oats are processed into oatmeal

While the differences are subtle, raw oats grown in fields and the food most folks refer to as oatmeal are not one and the same. According to They Differ, oats are whole grains that are cylindrical in shape and usually fairly tough, while oatmeal is the processed form of oats. Although the word "processed" often has a bad connotation, most oat processors seek to retain a majority of the grain's healthful properties, so they do as little as possible to make the grains more palatable (via Whole Grain Goodness). Oat groats are the least processed form of oats you can find at the store because only the inedible hull is removed, per Harvard School of Public Health

When you process the oat groats further, oatmeal is the result and there are a few differences between each type of this beloved breakfast food. Steel-cut oats are a version of the whole grain that has been cut into smaller pieces that break down more easily when cooked. Rolled oats are oats that have been softened, usually by steam, and are then pressed between two rollers which creates a flat, flake-like form of oats. This breaks down much of the whole oat's tougher texture, which helps it cook quickly and makes it more digestible. Kitchn says that instant oats are simply another form of rolled oats that have been rolled thinner, are pre-cooked, and typically have a less hearty texture.