The Reason Instant Oatmeal Is Slightly Less Nutritious Than Regular Oatmeal

Satisfying, delicious, and good for your health? It's hard to beat oatmeal for breakfast or a quick lunch at your work desk. Oats — and in turn, oatmeal — have many health benefits. Nutritionists rave about how oats can positively affect the whole body: from the heart to the gut. According to WebMD, more protein is found in oatmeal than in many other grains, and it is also full of vitamins and minerals. Magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin B-1 are just a few of the vitamins and minerals that oatmeal can provide (via Medical News Today). Not only that, but oatmeal has antioxidants and fiber, the latter of which is great for gut health. 

For people wanting to keep their cholesterol low, oatmeal can be a natural way to do that because it contains beta-glucan. In addition, oatmeal can even help with weight loss because it is filling, according to Healthline. For people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the soluble fiber found in oats can serve as an aid in managing blood sugar levels, helping to keep the blood sugar levels from rising after a meal.

Incorporating instant oatmeal into a day's routine is an easy health step to take, but are instant oats as good for you as steel-cut oatmeal?

With quickness comes less fiber

For the convenience of instant oatmeal, you will give up some health benefits, reports Mayo Clinic. Instant oatmeal is thinner and smaller, allowing it to cook faster. In comparison, regular oats, or rolled oats, are thicker and have more fiber, while steel-cut oats are the least processed and have the most fiber of the three.

Instant oatmeal often has more sugar and sodium than regular oats — at least, when they are packaged into flavored, individual serving size packets, according to WebMD. For your meal, it's best to start with rolled oats and add your own toppings, such as spices and fruits for sweetness. But be careful not to add too many sweet ingredients, or you'll undo the benefits of eating oatmeal. Mayo Clinic suggests adding dried cranberries and applesauce for sweetness and yogurt, nut butter, or pumpkin seeds for an added protein kick. If you want more fiber, include some chia seeds or ground flax.

For a more indulgent bowl, go above and beyond by using steeped tea to transform your oatmeal. You can even make a savory bowl of Nordic oatmeal. No matter what, enjoy the taste of your oatmeal and all of its health benefits.