With so many health buzzwords out there, sorting out the fact from the fiction can feel harder than deciding whether Ross and Rachel were actually on a break.
You may have heard of eating organic products, but do you know what that actually means? Are there any real health benefits to choosing organic products, like the oats that we include in our breakfast bars? We’ve got all the answers to your questions and more (well, maybe not the one about Ross and Rachel—we’ll leave that one up to you).
First Of All: What Does Organic Really Mean?
In the past, the only way to get organic foods was by heading to a specialty market and spending exorbitant amounts of money. Luckily, nowadays, organic foods are far more readily available and cheaper now than they’ve ever been before. But what makes them special?
The word organic is more about the way that the food is farmed than the actual food itself. Mostly, organic foods are whole food products like fruits, vegetables, and grains, as well as things like meat and dairy. They are farmed with a focus on specific goals, including:
- Enhancing the quality of the soil and the water
- Reducing pollution
- Promoting a self-sustaining system that puts as much back into the environment as it takes
In addition, organic farming stays away from certain chemicals and practices, like irradiation and genetic engineering. This keeps the food as close to nature as possible and keeps potential allergies and other unintended byproducts out of the final product. Organic farming is basically kicking out all that gross chemical stuff that you really don’t want to eat.
Overall, organic foods tend to be safer for the consumer and the environment. They may also be even more nutritious than their chemically farmed companions and often taste even better! So… why wouldn’t you go for organic versions of your favorite foods?
Those that make the grade earn the “USDA Organic” label so that you can look specifically for organic foods and be confident that you’re really getting what you’re paying for.
Where Do Oats Come From?
Oats don’t just magically appear in your bowl, although sometimes we wish that they would. Just like everything else, they have to be grown and produced. Unfortunately, you can’t just grab a raw oat off the plant and enjoy—we promise, you really wouldn’t enjoy it.
Oats are grown in a field, similar to wheat or barley. After they’re harvested from the field, they go through a multi-step process to make sure that they are safe and ready for you to eat. These steps are known as cleaning, dehulling, and kilning.
The cleaning step starts by removing any material from the oat that doesn’t belong there, which is especially important to maintain their gluten-free status. Even a small amount of debris can trigger an allergic response, which is why this step can’t be skipped. Even if people choose to eat oats for an optional gluten-free lifestyle rather than a health condition, removing any potential contaminants is vital.
Once they are thoroughly cleaned, the oat plant goes on to be dehulled. Essentially, dehulling the oat means removing its tough, outer husk, which is inedible to humans (it does make a great component of animal feed, though!). What is left behind is the oat itself, which is sometimes called a “groat.”
Once the oats have been exposed, they can be kilned, which helps keep them shelf-stable and ready for eating whenever you want. It’s the final step in the process from farm to fork (or spoon or bar).
When you know just how much goes into creating the oats that you enjoy so much, eating organic makes a whole lot more sense. There’s simply too much potential for chemicals to enter into the equation before entering into your body if not, and we’re pretty down for avoiding toxic chemicals.
Are Oats Good For You?
Oatmeal, and oats in general, is one of the most classic breakfast options out there. It’s enjoyed not only all across the United States but all around the world, from the U.K. to Russia. But just because something is well-loved doesn’t make it healthy or good for you.
The good news is, oats are both well-loved and great for you! They are jam-packed with plenty of healthy carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This is one superstar breakfast.
Nutrition does depend a bit on the type of oats you eat and how they’re processed. For instance, organic and steel-cut oats are far more nutritious than the “quick” oats you can find in a bag. They also aren’t full of extra, unnecessary sugar and preservatives. It’s all about making healthy choices (and if you need some help with that, that’s what we’re here for).
Overall, though, eating whole grains is pretty much good all around. They can help reduce the risk of diabetes, lower our cholesterol level, and ultimately work to prevent cardiovascular disease. Oats can also have anti-inflammatory properties, both inside our bodies and out. Some people even choose to take oatmeal baths when they have an allergic reaction, and they are a common component of many “sensitive skin” products on the market. We’ll stick to breakfast, though.
Oats are a natural source of loads of different vitamins and minerals that are essential to your body working right, like vitamins B and E, as well as antioxidants and phytochemicals that can promote further anti-inflammatory properties. They really are one of the most nutrient-rich foods you can choose to eat.
Let’s Talk Fiber
Another nutritional benefit of eating oats, and especially organic oats, is the fiber content. In fact, for many people, the high fiber content is actually what attracts them to oats in the first place.
Oats essentially scrub our GI system from top to bottom. As they travel through the body and are broken down, they provide a wide variety of benefits. For instance, in the small intestine and stomach, the fiber from the oats can help slow down the processing and absorption of all the foods it comes in contact with.
As it does this, it makes you feel fuller for longer and can actually relax the body’s natural insulin response. When they reach the large intestine, the broken down fiber can work as food for the bacteria in the gut and promote healthier bathroom habits (you know what we mean).
The specific type of fiber that oats have is known as beta-glucan. According to various studies, this type of fiber has been uniquely linked to a reduction in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and lower cholesterol.
And, speaking of bathroom habits, oats have also been tied to a reduced risk of constipation. When included in a regular diet, they help increase regularity and bulk up the stool. Tummy troubles, goodbye—we’ll take our serving of oats, please!
Oats As A Weight Loss Tool
If you’re trying to watch your weight, oats can be a tool to help make the process easier.
The biggest way that oats do that is by using their high fiber content, specifically beta-glucan, to create a feeling of fullness, unlike many other healthy foods out there. When you feel more full, you’re less likely to make bad choices than when you’re under the influence of hunger. This naturally means a lower calorie intake, which leads to weight loss (often without really need to try!).
The beta-glucan doesn’t stop there. It also can stimulate the body to release peptide YY (more commonly referred to as PYY), which increases the feeling of satiety even more and can help decrease the risk of developing obesity. Basically, you’ll be feeling full.
Oats, whether in a bowl of oatmeal or one of our breakfast bars, can and should be a part of any weight loss plan. They’re also naturally gluten-free! How’s that for a killer breakfast ingredient?
What To Watch Out For
One of the easiest traps to fall into is relying on quick oats, especially those that come in the packets. While they are incredibly convenient, these little packets full of peaches and cream and maple flavoring are also full of sugar and preservatives. While it’s a little more time consuming to make up a batch of steel-cut oats (unless you do it the night before), it more than pays that back in nutritional value.
The same is true for some protein bars that contain oats (but not ours!). Just because there are oats present doesn’t make them a good, healthy choice. We kept this in mind when creating our bars and used no refined sugar or dairy. Other bars don’t follow our strict guidelines and can pack their bars with extra sugar to make them taste more like candy and less like a health food item. Stick with the cool kids, though, and you’ll be fine (and by cool kids, we mean us, obviously).
There are plenty of health benefits that come with eating organic oats. Including them in your diet, whether that’s having a warm bowl of them in the morning or grabbing one of our breakfast bars, is one of the best things you can do for your health and your tastebuds all in one. From your GI system to your blood sugar, oats can not only maintain but also improve the health and functioning of your entire body. So hop on board with this kick-ass ingredient today!