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Is Porridge Healthy? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Oatmeal has become a popular “health food” in recent decades, primarily as a sweet or savory porridge and as an ingredient in breakfast cereals and baked goods (oatcakes, oat cookies, and oat bread). 

According to the British Journal of Nutrition [1], oats may help improve diet quality, the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, and satiety (the feeling of fullness). In addition to that, oats are frequently credited with lowering cholesterol, increasing longevity, preventing cancer, and boosting immunity [2]. 

Keep reading, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about porridge and its different types, benefits, and risks. 

The Different Types of Oat Cereals

Oat groats, which are whole, toasted oat grains, are the foundation of all oat products. They are typically processed into more suitable oat products. With the exception of oat bran, all oats are wholegrains. 

The difference between these products is that they have different textures and cooking times depending on how much processing they have undergone.

Porridge oats

The majority of porridge oats we find in stores are rolled oats. These are oat groats that have been steamed and then rolled into flakes. They absorb liquid quickly, reducing cooking time to 5-10 minutes when making porridge, or they can be eaten raw for more texture. The thickness of rolled oats influences their cooking time and texture. Jumbo oats are slightly thicker, have more texture, and may require soaking or cooking before eating [3].

Rolled oats can be used in a variety of recipes: pancakes, baked goods, granola, and even smoothies, in addition to the ever-popular porridge with fresh fruits and nuts toppings, and overnight oats with unsweetened almond milk. 

Instant oats 

Instant oats are oat groats that have been finely rolled and chopped to cook quickly. They are frequently sold in individual sachets or pots, and all you have to do to prepare them is add boiling water and stir. Although they are convenient, they may not keep you satisfied for as long as rolled oats and oatmeal because they are quickly digested and frequently contain added sugar. You can prepare it with low-fat milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, or water to reduce calories and saturated fat, which is especially important if you are trying to lower your cholesterol levels [4].


Steel-cut oatmeal is made from oat groats that have been cut into two to four pieces with a sharp metal blade. These oats are the least processed type of oat cereal and have a nutty flavor and a good chewy texture when cooked. It can be cooked in about 15 minutes but it would take less time if you soak it overnight [5]. 

Stoneground oatmeal, on the other hand, is oat groats that have been ground into small flat pieces. You can use it to coat fish or meat, or in stuffings, crumble toppings, or as a thickening agent for soups, gravy or sauces if finely ground into oat flour. It is creamier than steel-cut oatmeal when made into porridge and can be cooked on the stovetop in about 10 minutes or in the microwave [3].

Oat bran 

The outer layer of oat groats is known as oat bran. It is not wholegrain, but it is high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and is especially full of beta-glucan. It can be added to cereal for extra fibre or used in baking for a nutritional boost [6].

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The Benefits of Porridge

Rich fiber content

Oats have a high concentration of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre. In your gut, beta-glucan partially dissolves in water and forms a thick, gel-like solution, causing you to feel full [6].

The following are some of the potential health benefits of beta-glucan fiber:

  • Reduced total cholesterol levels and LDL [7]
  • Lower blood sugar levels and insulin response [8]
  • Increased feeling of satiety [9]
  • Increased growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract [10]

This oat grain fibre adds bulk to stools, allowing them to move more easily through the bowels and keeping your digestive system regular. If you have constipation, oats might become your new best friend [11]! 

Great source of protein

Oats are regarded as a potential source of low-cost protein with high nutritional value. Oat has a distinct protein composition and a high protein content of 11-15%.

Oat protein differs from other cereal grains not only in structural properties but also in protein fraction distribution [12].

Nutritious composition

Other than their rich composition in fibre and protein, oats are filled with important vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals [6]. In half a cup of dry oats (78g) [13], there are: 

  • Manganese: 63.91%
  • Phosphorus: 13.3%
  • Magnesium: 13.3%
  • Copper: 17.6%
  • Iron: 9.4%
  • Zinc: 13.4%
  • Folate: 3.24%
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 15.5%
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 9.07%
  • Lower calcium, potassium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and vitamin B3 (niacin) levels

Are there any risks to oatmeal?

Following the oatmeal diet would be difficult because it lacks the calories that a person requires to feel energetic. While oatmeal can be a healthy part of your diet, it is not a complete source of nutrients.

Instead, a person should strive to eat a variety of fresh, whole foods while increasing their physical activity [14].

It is highly recommended to check with your doctor before following any dietary plans as they can help you establish healthful targets. 


[1] Clemens, Roger, and B. Jan-Willem van Klinken. “Oats, More than Just a Whole Grain: An Introduction.” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 112, no. S2, 30 Sept. 2014, pp. S1–S3, 10.1017/s0007114514002712.

[2] Nordqvist, Joseph. “Oats: Health Benefits, Facts, Research.” Www.medicalnewstoday.com, 3 Jan. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270680.

[3] “The Wonder of Oats – HEART UK.” Www.heartuk.org.uk, www.heartuk.org.uk/low-cholesterol-foods/the-wonder-of-oats-

[4] “Instant or Traditional Porridge?” Bhf.org.uk, 2016, www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/ask-the-expert/porridge.

[5] “Health Benefits of Steel Cut Oats.” WebMD, www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-steel-cut-oats

[6] “9 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Oat Bran.” Healthline, 5 Mar. 2019, www.healthline.com/nutrition/oat-bran.

[7] Bashir, Khawaja Muhammad, and Jae-Suk Choi. “Clinical and Physiological Perspectives of β-Glucans: The Past, Present, and Future.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 18, no. 9, 5 Sept. 2017, p. 1906, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618555/, 10.3390/ijms18091906.

[8] Zurbau, Andreea, et al. “The Effect of Oat β-Glucan on Postprandial Blood Glucose and Insulin Responses: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 19 Feb. 2021, 10.1038/s41430-021-00875-9.

[9] Rebello, Candida J., et al. “Dietary Fiber and Satiety: The Effects of Oats on Satiety.” Nutrition Reviews, vol. 74, no. 2, 2 Jan. 2016, pp. 131–147, academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/74/2/131/1924832, 10.1093/nutrit/nuv063.

‌[10] Valeur, Jørgen, et al. “Oatmeal Porridge: Impact on Microflora-Associated Characteristics in Healthy Subjects.” The British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 115, no. 1, 14 Jan. 2016, pp. 62–67, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26511097/, 10.1017/S0007114515004213.

[11] healthfuldietitian. “Oats & IBS.” Healthful Dietitian, 2 June 2020, www.healthfuldietitian.co.uk/post/oats-ibs.

‌[12] Rasane, Prasad, et al. “Nutritional Advantages of Oats and Opportunities for Its Processing as Value Added Foods – a Review.” Journal of Food Science and Technology, vol. 52, no. 2, 25 June 2013, pp. 662–675, 10.1007/s13197-013-1072-1.

[13] “FoodData Central.” Fdc.nal.usda.gov, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173904/nutrients. ‌[14] “Oatmeal Diet: Does It Work?” Www.medicalnewstoday.com, 23 July 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322546.