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Can Diabetics Eat Oat Porridge?

Nutrient-rich, satisfying, and warming, oat porridge is more than just a breakfast food— it’s a nutritional powerhouse that provides a fantastic start to the day. You can make it with milk, water, or both, depending on your taste! It is versatile to mix it with fruits, seeds, nuts, and spices, make it a smoothie, or simply eat it as it is. You can make it a creamy or chewy texture, whichever you prefer, but one thing is sure: every mouthful comforts many people!

Many make this meal a staple because it’s easy, quick, and nutritious. But can this be really enjoyed by all people? Even people with diabetes? Living with diabetes can be challenging, especially because you need to be mindful of your food. But let’s take one step towards being mindful and start knowing the suitability between diabetes and oat porridge.

Let’s answer your question in this article; we will discuss the benefits, types of oat porridge, whether oat porridge is diabetic friendly, and many more!

Health Benefits of Oat Porridge

So, aside from being adaptable and delicious, oat porridge can be a source of nutrition, giving us a lot of health impact. Take a look:

Heart Health: The high fiber content in oats, especially beta-glucan, has been associated with reduced levels of bad LDL cholesterol, which can promote a healthier heart and lower the risk of heart disease.[1]

Stable Blood Sugar Levels: The complex carbohydrates in oat porridge break down slowly during digestion, which helps prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. This makes it an excellent meal choice for individuals managing diabetes.[2]

Digestive Well-Being: Oat porridge can support healthy digestion and promote regular bowel movements thanks to its high fiber content.[3]

Weight Control: The fiber in oat porridge provides a feeling of fullness and satisfaction, which can help control appetite and assist in maintaining a healthy weight.[4]

Antioxidant-Rich: Oats are packed with antioxidants, including unique compounds called avenanthramides, known for their anti-inflammatory effects and potential to improve blood pressure. [5]

Loaded with Vitamins and Minerals: Oats are a natural source of many essential nutrients, including B vitamins, iron, zinc, and magnesium.[3]

Types of Oat Porridge

The glycemic index (GI) of foods is essential to know which type of oats to consider in your meal plan, so apart from describing the different types of oat porridge, I will also put their corresponding GI. Low GI (55 and below) means they are slower to be absorbed by the body, and High GI (70 and above) represents the body’s faster absorption, increasing blood glucose levels.[6]

  • Rolled Oat Porridge: 57 GI. Rolled oats have considerably low GI, which is a good choice for people with diabetes. This type of oats is made by steaming and rolling. This process helps the oats cook faster by creating a larger surface area. Porridge made from rolled oats has a creamy yet somewhat chewy texture and toasty flavor. [7]
  • Steel-Cut Oat Porridge: 53 GI. People love this type of oats because of their nutty flavor. Unlike rolled oats, they are cut into pieces and cooked more slowly. So, it is the best option for diabetic individuals. [7]
  • Scottish Oat Porridge: 55 GI. Scottish oat porridge is ground into a meal and has a creamier texture compared to steel-cut oats.
  • Overnight Oat Porridge: This porridge is usually made from rolled oats, so its GI is around 55. However, please remember that other ingredients in overnight oats can affect the overall GI.
  • Instant Oat Porridge: 70-80 GI. This type is the most processed, so they have a higher GI. Instant oats are also common, usually marketed in packets with artificial flavoring and sweeteners. So, diabetic patients should be aware of different types when buying.[8]

Will Oat Porridge Spike My Blood Sugar Level?

Oats have a lot of benefits, especially for people with diabetes. It contains fiber and protein, a type of complex carbohydrate. However, there are a lot of factors to consider if oat porridge can spike your blood sugar. Here are some of them.

Types

As I’ve discussed above, there are many types, and one is instant oats. They are more processed than other types and may contain a lot of sugar and added ingredients. In turn, they can spike your blood sugar faster.

Portion Size

Being a diabetic, you are all too familiar with portion control, and big servings of oats can drastically spike blood sugar levels.

What you eat with your oats

The key is not to add a lot of sweeteners and eat your oat porridge in balance; put a little bit of protein, like nuts and seeds, and good fats, like avocado, to slow the process of sugar absorption into your bloodstream.

Method of cooking

Do not overcook your oats. It will break down complex carbs into simpler carbohydrates, which means higher GI. Depending on the type of oats, you may cook the steel-cut for 20 minutes and the rolled oats for 15 minutes. [10]

Porridge Eating Advice for Diabetics

So whenever you eat your oat porridge, opt for the healthier version, like steel-cut or rolled oats. Do not add additional sugars; instead, choose natural ingredients like fruits. The portion may vary according to your doctor’s approval, but the golden rule is 1/2 cup of dry oats with protein and healthy fats. (e.g., nuts, seeds, and Greek yogurt) And remember, monitor your blood sugar before, during, and after every meal.

FAQ

Is rice porridge good for diabetes?

Rice porridge or Congee is commonly known in many Asian countries. It is like oat porridge, but it is made with rice. The types of rice can be white, brown, or glutinous rice.

However, rice can have a high Glycemic Index (white rice, to be exact). This means it is faster for the sugar to be absorbed in the bloodstream.

To answer the question, yes, diabetics can eat rice porridge, but make sure to choose brown rice instead of white, and just like in every meal, serving size should be controlled.

Which oats are the best for diabetes patients?

Steel-cut oats are the only slightly processed oats that are perfect for diabetic patients. They have more fiber, so that they will slow down glucose absorption. Although they may take longer to cook, the benefits will be worthwhile as eating this reduces the chances of rapid blood sugar spikes.[7]

Why does eating oat porridge raise my glucose sometimes?

Eating food can sometimes raise blood sugar levels if you are not conscious of what you eat and not checking your blood sugar levels occasionally. For example, even the healthier oat porridge can quickly raise sugar levels when you don’t eat it in moderation.

The timing of eating carbohydrates, or if you are on diabetic medication, can affect this too. And lastly, if you’ve done any exercise or physical activity within the day. Remember, exercise can have beneficial effects in aiding blood sugar management. 

How much porridge can a person with diabetes have?

It depends on the gender, physical activity, and the individual’s current health status; consult your healthcare provider about this! As a ballpark figure, half a cup of oats does one cup of oat porridge. So this should be around 30 grams, which is a good portion size. But remember to pair your oat porridge with lots of protein and fiber! [9]

Final Thoughts

Oat porridge is a highly nutritious option for those with diabetes due to its fiber-rich content that helps regulate blood sugar levels. However, the type of oats used, portion sizes, and added ingredients significantly impact its health benefits. Select less processed oats like steel-cut or rolled oats, monitor portion sizes, and avoid adding excessive sugar or sweeteners for best results. Incorporating proteins and healthy fats can further slow down sugar absorption, making oat porridge an excellent choice for managing diabetes.

Nonetheless, individual reactions to foods vary, and people with diabetes should continuously monitor their blood sugar levels and consult their healthcare provider for personalized advice. The critical takeaway is to eat oat porridge in moderation and balance. Consider other factors like medication, physical activity, and your doctor’s recommendation. Because with the right approach, oat porridge can be a healthful, enjoyable addition to a diabetic-friendly meal plan.

References:

  1. Bashir KMI, Choi JS. Clinical and Physiological Perspectives of β-Glucans: The Past, Present, and Future. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Sep 5;18(9):1906. doi: 10.3390/ijms18091906. PMID: 28872611; PMCID: PMC5618555.
  2. Hou Q, Li Y, Li L, Cheng G, Sun X, Li S, Tian H. The Metabolic Effects of Oats Intake in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2015 Dec 10;7(12):10369-87. doi: 10.3390/nu7125536. PMID: 26690472; PMCID: PMC4690088.
  3. Paudel D, Dhungana B, Caffe M, Krishnan P. A Review of Health-Beneficial Properties of Oats. Foods. 2021 Oct 26;10(11):2591. doi: 10.3390/foods10112591. PMID: 34828872; PMCID: PMC8625765.
  4. Kristensen M, Jensen MG. Dietary fibres in the regulation of appetite and food intake. Importance of viscosity. Appetite. 2011 Feb;56(1):65-70. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2010.11.147. Epub 2010 Nov 27. PMID: 21115081.
  5. Liu L, Zubik L, Collins FW, Marko M, Meydani M. The antiatherogenic potential of oat phenolic compounds. Atherosclerosis. 2004 Jul;175(1):39-49. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2004.01.044. PMID: 15186945.
  6. Vega-López S, Venn BJ, Slavin JL. Relevance of the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for Body Weight, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients. 2018 Sep 22;10(10):1361. doi: 10.3390/nu10101361. PMID: 30249012; PMCID: PMC6213615.
  7. Johnson, J. (2021, April 29). Rolled vs. steel-cut oats: Which is better? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/rolled-vs-steel-cut-oats
  8. Cherney, K., PhD. (2022, October 27). Best (and Worst) Oatmeal for Type 2 Diabetes. EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/best-oatmeal-type-2-diabetes
  9. FoodData Central. (n.d.-b). https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173904/nutrients
  10.  Oats. (2022, March 2). The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/oats/

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