Lately, I’m hearing a lot about overnight oats, mostly because someone I knew started consuming them regularly for health reasons. Oats are known to help in lowering LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. This I knew, probably you too but how healthy overnight oats is, you and I need to know. Firstly, let’s find out exactly what overnight oats is. By the time you finish reading this, you’ll be able to decide if this is for you.
What is Overnight Oats
Basically, overnight oats are a no-cook method of making oatmeal. Oatmeals are prepared by cooking oats with liquid on a stove-top or in the microwave whereas, for overnight oats, you just soak oats with liquid.
During the soaking process, oats will absorb the liquid and soften them. In a few hours, a bowl of oatmeal ready for you. The word “overnight” likely named so because you simply soak oats overnight and conveniently eat them in the morning. How long do you need to soak the oats? I’ll explain this in a bit, further below. For now, the big question is,
What Makes Overnight Oats Healthy
Oats are already a healthy food choice and overnight oats may make them even better for health. Yes? No, not completely. I’ll tell you why.
In an earlier article where I wrote about healthy granola bars, I’ve explained why are oats healthy. Not only are oats a good source of quality protein, but they also contain healthy fats and dietary fibre. What’s more important is that oats give you complex carbohydrates.
Why is complex carbohydrates important? They are an important source of energy, better than simple carbs. Commonly found in grains, nuts and seeds, complex carbohydrates take longer to break down and digest in your body hence releasing energy slowly. This gives you prolonged energy between meals if not throughout the day.
Curious to know what food is simple carbs? Fruits, milk and milk products. Also, in processed sugar such as soft drinks and candies.
Oats give you high amounts of minerals and vitamins including manganese, phosphorous, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium and thiamine (vitamin B1).
Now that you know oats are healthy, let’s find out what makes soaked oats commonly called overnight oats a healthy breakfast choice.
1. Increased Digestability
Soaking oats is a longer and slower process than cooking them and this helps the starches break down and reduce natural phytic acid. For this reason, it makes the soaked oats easier to digest compared to cooked oats.
On top of that, the natural phytic acids in oats are reduced allowing your body to easily absorb and utilises the oats’ nutrients more efficiently.
2. Promote Healthy Gut
Oats contain good amounts of resistant starch and cooking or heating may destroy most of it. Hence, soaking oats is more ideal.
What is resistant starch and why is it good for you? Resistant starch is a carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestines and ferments in the large intestines. Meaning your body will not digest them but will pass through your digestive system and end up in the colon. Here, it will be fermented by the bacteria. This helps promote a healthy gut microbiome which improves your overall well being (1).
Your gut health is important because it affects your immune system, heart and brain health, and digestive system.
On the topic of resistant starch, this leads to another reason to consume overnight oats.
3. May Aid Weight Loss
Resistant starch has fewer calories than regular starch. The higher the resistant starch content in food, the fewer calories it will have. Moreover, they tend to digest slower. This means you will feel fuller with lower calories and have fewer food cravings. Good for weight watchers.
By now, you would have understood how healthy overnight oats is. Besides health, here are another 2 reasons why you should consider having them.
Spend less, save time. Oats are not overly expensive and because they are filling, you don’t need to eat as much in a serving. Also, there is no need to snack between meals. You’ll only need to spend 5 minutes to soak your oats at night. In the morning, breakfast is ready. No cooking means no mess, hassle-free.
Delicious versatile breakfast. What? A cold breakfast cannot be delicious. I get this. In the beginning, I was reluctant trying but after reading about its health benefits, I decided to give it a try. Surprisingly, I actually liked them cold, immediately out from the fridge. You must at least give it one try. On top of that, there is no fixed recipe for overnight oats. You’re free to add toppings you desire such as nuts, seeds, fresh or dried fruits. Limitless ideas for everyday breakfast.
So, why are overnight oats bad for you?
Oats contain phytic acid, which hinders the absorption of minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium. Explain further, phytic acid binds minerals in the digestive tract, making them less available to our bodies. This is why phytic acid is often considered an anti-nutrient.
It is good to know soaking oats can reduce phytic acid. However, this does not mean eliminated because it’s still in the content of your jar or container of soaked oats.
From what I have gathered, some people recommended draining the liquid from the oats but hey, there isn’t any liquid left because all have been absorbed. And some recommended rinsing the soaked oats. I’m absolutely not doing that because I’ll be rinsing all the nutrients away.
Well, phytic acid is NOT all bad. It has benefits too.
When phytic acid binds minerals in the gut, it prevents the formation of free radicals, hence making it an antioxidant. Free radicals cause a number of diseases including cancer and heart disease.
On top of that, phytic acid seems to bind heavy metal such as lead and cadmium. This helps prevent their accumulation in your body.
We often hear about the benefits of high fibre foods but did you know too much fibre has its effects? That’s correct.
Too much fibre can cause bloating, gas and constipation. These may happen if you eat more than 70g of fibre in a day. I say “if” because each individual’s body reacts differently thus one having the said effect does not mean you’ll have it too.
It is recommended that young women eat 25g of fibre a day and young men 38g.
When you start a fibre-rich diet, begin with a small amount and see how your body reacts. Afterwhich, you increase or reduce the amount accordingly. If you happen to consume too much fibre, increasing your fluid intake and excising can ease the discomfort.
How to Prepare Overnight Oats
You may have had oatmeals before but never overnight oats. This is the time to try.
Firstly, what type of oats to use for overnight oats? There are several types of oat including steel-cut, rolled oats, quick-cook and instant. The differences between them are mostly the texture, shape and cooking time. Personally, I go for rolled oats as they give me a chewier texture. Quick-cook and instant oats are too mushy for my liking.
When soaking oats, the ratio guideline is 1 part oats to 1 part liquid. You can add more liquid to suit your preference.
Here is a basic overnight oats recipe, actually no recipe required, which’s simple and easy to make at home. Just follow the 3 steps.
Step 1. Soak Your Oats the Night Before
Combine equal parts rolled oats and liquid in a jar or container. Mix well and refrigerate overnight.
The suggested serving for one, use ½ cup oats and ½ cup water.
Normally, I use a 1:1½ ratio because I like them thinner.
Instead of water, you can use milk but I go for either apple juice or orange juice and sometimes diluted honey water.
Step 2. Choose Your Toppings
In the morning, give the oats a good stir. If you feel more liquid is needed, add more at this point.
Next, stir in your sweeteners and/or spice up your oats with raw honey or maple syrup and ground cinnamon is a must for me.
Lastly, add your favourite toppings such as nuts, seeds, dried or fresh fruits. These will give you more texture and extra crunch plus the natural sweetness from the fruits. For example, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and apricots or apples and bananas. The list goes on…
Step 3. Dig in
What are you waiting for? Dig in and enjoy while it’s still cold.
Maybe, you like to add a spoonful of yoghurt before digging in. Yes, it is extra cooling. Recommended.
Wait, you don’t like cold overnight oats? Hmm…
Can you make overnight oats hot?
Of course, you can enjoy them warm. Simply microwave your jar of oats without covering for about 30-60 seconds and stir halfway through, before topping. Ensure your jar or container is microwave-safe.
How Long Will Overnight Oats Last in the Fridge
Overnight oats typically last for up to 5 days in the fridge. This makes them an excellent breakfast meal prep. Make a batch on Sunday night and you get to enjoy a healthy breakfast without fuss on weekdays.
if you’re using milk as the soaking liquid, be mindful to check the expiry date. Actually, I do not recommend using milk and I don’t for this reason. Also, I find them too milky. Perhaps, you can make a different variation for certain days and consume those soaked with milk sooner than later.
In a Nutshell
Oats, for a very long time, is known to be healthy especially in reducing cholesterol and support heart health. Many people consume oatmeal for these reasons and this makes overnight oats become increasingly popular.
I am not a cold breakfast person but overnight oats, surprisingly, I can accept and like for several reasons.
Firstly, knowing how healthy overnight oats is, is enough for me to accept.
Secondly, I like the no-cook no mess method which is very convenient for the morning rush.
Thirdly, I have to admit the chilled oatmeal breakfast (for a change) is a refreshing start for the day. Although I don’t eat this every morning, it adds variety to my daily breakfast ideas.
I hope this article has given you a clear picture of what overnight oats is and enough information to decide if it’s for you. Besides the health aspect, convenience is a favourable reason for consuming them. Also, this breakfast will have you full all morning long.
So, what say you? Will you be trying this cold healthy oatmeal? Tell us in the comments section below. If you’ve been consuming oatmeal, share with us how you eat differently.
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Learn more: From me Nuttylog
Consider Muesli for Convenience
What is muesli? The basic ingredients of muesli mix are rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, sort of all-in-one. Therefore, you can soak muesli as you do oats. This is much more convenient as all ingredients are in the muesli mix except for fresh fruits which you’ll have to add in the morning.
Read more about muesli here – how healthy it is and ways to eat muesli.
Let’s Get Started Straight Away
For US Shoppers, Shop on Amazon. There are plenty of choices but choose carefully.
I found a few worth taking a closer look ↓
Organic muesli with no added sugar. The sweetness comes from the raisins.
Should you prefer to make your own blend, buy organic rolled oats and add toppings of your choice.
Try the variety pack to find out which combination you like best.
For my fellow Malaysian, shop on Shopee. There’s a wide selection of oats and muesli with good reviews.
I normally buy Australian Rolled Oats from a neighbourhood outlet. For you, I found on Shopee from Maxinmart. Click here to take a closer look.
Before started making my own muesli, I used to buy Emco Muesli. Check this out, on Shopee from Emco Malaysia.
Happy shopping and thanks for reading.
Me YourHealthy Corner – Stay in Good Health, Healthy Eating Habits
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Medical Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional, and this post should not be taken as medical advice. Please do your own research. The material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.