The Forgotten Superfood That's Right Under Your Nose
Aussies are being lured by exotic and faddish superfoods but missing one that's right under their noses, or in their kitchen cupboards. The OatSmart Winter Research by the Uncle Tobys team has found that two-thirds of Aussies (65%) have their pantries stocked with this forgotten superfood, but overlook oats' natural goodness in favour of fashionable foods and celebrity diet trends.
The craze for superfoods often sees Aussies open their purses and hand over extra dollars at the checkout for extravagant additions to their diets, but they need look no further than the humble oat. One of Earth's natural superfoods, oats, are high in fibre, a wholegrain, low in sodium and a natural source of energy, making them a powerful way to boost breakfasts instantly. Half of Aussies (49%) would tuck in more if they knew about superfood properties, but over three-quarters (79%) of Aussies are confused about what makes foods super and unable to identify these health-helping ingredients.
Uncle Tobys ambassador and respected nutritionist Catherine Saxelby comments, 'Superfoods have worked their way up the healthy eating agenda, with many Australians looking for quick fixes to improve their diet. However, a lack of understanding of superfoods can be a danger to a balanced diet, with more and more people thinking that consuming a little of a so called -wonder food' means they can eat what they like at other times. It's important that people get back to basics to look at how they can benefit their health and including Uncle Tobys Traditional Oats in their everyday diet is a great way to start."
Nilani Sritharan, Regional Nutrition Manager: Asia & Oceania comments, 'Uncle Tobys oats are a great way to start the day. Oats are a hearty and nutritious breakfast that provides 100% natural energy, contain beta glucan, a fibre that helps lower cholesterol reabsorption and helps aid digestion."
Question: How can we prepare oats for breakfast?
Catherine Saxelby: Simple – just follow the instructions on the pack of traditional rolled oats. Generally you use one cup of oats to roughly two cups of liquid. The liquid can be all water, all milk or half water, half milk which is what I like to use. Once mixed and simmering on your stove, check how it looks and add a little more liquid if it looks too dry. I don't like really thick porridge so I find you can top up the water and somehow the porridge absorbs it to make a smooth creamy texture.
Question: What are the main benefits from oats that make them a superfood?
Catherine Saxelby: Oats are one of my top 20 super foods. Really they're the grain with everything. They are high in beta-glucan, a soluble fibre that prevents breakdown products of cholesterol from re-entering the system via the intestine. The result is less cholesterol being made in the body.
They're low GI, so their carbohydrate is slowly absorbed into your system, giving you energy for hours after eating. And helping you keep diabetes at bay. Plus it's a good alternative if you can't eat wheat.
Finally they have that wholegrain goodness with lots of nutrition - you can top up your B vitamins, especially thiamin and niacin, as well as minerals like phosphorus, potassium and magnesium (which helps steady the rhythm of the heart).
Question: What are the advantages of a diet high in protein?
Catherine Saxelby: A higher protein intake is currently considered an advantage for weight loss. Protein is filling and satiating so the theory goes that you'll feel fuller for longer when you eat more protein from meat, eggs, fish, chicken or cheese. Meat, fish and chicken also provide sources of iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3s (from grass-fed animals) in a form that's well-absorbed into the body – better than from vegetables or grains.
Question: There are a large variety of Uncle Toby's Oats, which is best for breakfast?
Catherine Saxelby: I like to use the traditional red box of Uncle Tobys oats as I feel it's a healthier, less processed choice than the instant oats or flakes. It's not that time- consuming to prepare – it takes only a minute longer to cook. I get the porridge going on the stove first thing in the morning then boil the kettle and make a cuppa.
If you're really pushed for time, you can get the oats ready in the saucepan add the liquid and leave it overnight to soak so it's ready to cook in the morning. That cuts down on the cooking time.
However I know some people just can't do that or only have a microwave so the quick cook type is fine. And a much healthier option than refined cereals. Handy when you're out camping too!
Question: What other dishes can oats be used in?
Catherine Saxelby: Oats can be used in so many recipes. I'm a big fan of muesli which I make myself at home using rolled oats as the base and mixing in chopped nuts, dried fruit, seeds like chia or flaxseed, oat bran – really whatever I have hanging around in my cupboard. You can also make up a Bircher muesli by soaking rolled oats the night before and grating over a fresh apple the next morning. Or adding in other diced fresh fruit. I have a nice recipe on my website at www.foodwatch.com.au
Oats do a top job in crumble toppings eg apple crumble or apple and rhubarb crumble.
And they are great added into muffins, slices and even to thicken and bind meatloaf.
For more great oats recipes jump on the Uncle Tobys website www.uncletobys.com.au/oats-recipes
Question: What are superfoods?
Catherine Saxelby: I rate something a super food because it's nutrient-rich, natural and won't overload you with excess kilojoules.
Here's what I look for in deciding whether a food is -super' or not. It should have one or more of these 8 qualities:
1. Be rich in vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fat or fibre compared to its kilojoule/calorie count (have a high nutrient density). They stand out from the rest!
2. Have 25 per cent or more of the recommended intake of two or more nutrients in a serve OR be outstanding rich in one nutrient, having 50 per cent or more of its recommended intake for the day.
3. In addition to the normal nutrients, contain significant quantities of what could be regarded as health-promoting and/or protective substances such as phytonutrients or other substances not usually found in foods in its class.
4. Be minimally processed without being enriched.
5. Provide essential nutrients without overloading the body with salt, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar or other compounds linked to poor health.
6. Have research linking it to a potential reduced risk of illness or poor health.
7. Be easily available and affordable
8. Have medicinal or healing qualities which have been acknowledged by traditional medicine - effects beyond nutrition (think of the folklore behind garlic or ginger).
Question: Oats are the -original' superfood; what are some other superfoods?
Catherine Saxelby: VEGETABLES
Broccoli (and other Cruciferous such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
Spinach (and its cousin silverbeet aka Swiss chard)
Bok Choy (and other Asian greens)
Grapefruit (and other citrus like oranges, lemons, mandarins or tangellos)
Blueberries (and other berries, not forgetting frozen mixed berries)
NUTS AND SEEDS
HERBS AND SPICES
Oregano, thyme, basil and similar hardy green herbs
Question: How can we use oats to help manage our weight?
Catherine Saxelby: Oats are a filling and sustaining food. They fill you up without overloading you with excess fat or sugar which is ideal if you're trying to lose a little weight or prevent weight gain creeping on over winter.
Oats are high in fibre which helps make you feel full and assists your digestion and regularity.
Oats are also rich in a type of fibre known as beta-glucan which can bind to and sweep cholesterol out of the body.
One serve of traditional rolled oats with 2/3 cup skim milk (weighing 40g) supplies: 11.1g protein, 3.7g fat(of which only 0.9g is saturated fat), 30.8g carb (of which 8.5g are sugars – mainly from milk), 3.9g dietary fibre and 88- kilojoules. [Figures from UT pack]
Question: What's it important to remember when watching what we're eating?
Catherine Saxelby: Eat moderate portions especially of -treat' foods or desserts
Cook and serve large serves of vegetables and salads for their nutrition, fibre for digestive health and to fill you up for just a few kilojoules.
Make sure half your grains are wholegrain eg rolled oats, grainy bread, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat.
Interview by Brooke Hunter