Oatmeal: A Guilt Free Comfort Food

When we think of comfort foods, we conjure up yummy visions of cheesy macaroni, crispy fried chicken or decadent fudge brownies. The common denominator? They’re often fat-filled foods!

And then there’s oatmeal – a piping-hot bowl can give you that same warm, fuzzy feeling – minus the guilt. When made right, this guiltless pleasure has nutrition experts singing an Ode to Oats because of the wealth of goodness packed inside these tiny grains. Take a look.

Oatmeal is:

  • Chock full of soluble fiber
  • Packed with a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • Full of protein, iron and complex carbohydrates

And, even more amazing, oatmeal is thought to help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, control weight, lower high blood pressure, and even shrink the threat of certain cancers!

Sounds great, right? Well, before you start bulking up on oats at every turn, spoon up this BrandAid reality check.


Reality Check

Unless you pick oats straight off the stalk, oatmeal is a processed food, so depending on the amount of processing, its nutritional punch can be compromised. Your best bet will always be the slow-cooking steel-cut oats that are minimally processed and contain only 100 percent wholesome grains – no artificial anything!
Here’s the rub. These oats aren’t called slow cooking for nothin’. They require an inexhaustible 30 minutes of stove-top cooking (and stirring). And, in our fast-paced world, unless you’re a June Cleaver type (not that there’s anything wrong with that), your jam packed schedule might not allow time to spend preparing a major breakfast. It’s an unaffordable luxury that, sadly, has been replaced by heavy traffic and long work commutes!

Translation: Nutritional sacrifices must be made when there’s only an instant to spare for the day’s most important meal!

Case-in-point: Instant Oatmeal

Although, instant oats are more processed than their slow cooking counter parts, they can still be a healthy breakfast option. And, as you probably know by now, not all varieties of instant oatmeal are created equal – not even within the same brand.


Healthy Food Imposter

Quaker Weight Control – Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal

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(Single Serving; calories 160, total fat 3g, sodium 310mg, dietary fiber 6g, sugar 1g)

INGREDIENTS: WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE, MALTODEXTRIN, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, SALT, OAT FLOUR, CALCIUM CARBONATE, GUAR GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, SOY LECITHEN, ACESULFAME POTASSIUM, SUCRALOSE, NIACINAMIDE*, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, REDUCED IRON, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE*, RIBOFLAVIN*, THIAMIN MONONITRATE*, FOLIC ACID.

 

Decoding the Fine Print:

  • There are three artificial sweeteners padding out the ingredients list: maltodextrin, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose – this explains the one gram of sugar on the NFL.
  • Maltodextrin is the third ingredient listed, making it one of the main ingredients. Eek.
  • Other junk ingredients include artificial flavors, caramel coloring and calcium carbonate.

Bottom line, unsuspecting shoppers may think they’re buying a wholesome low-calorie, low-sugar breakfast food– but, it’s only an illusion. With all the chemical additives, this variety of Quaker instant oatmeal is hands down a Healthy Food Imposter!


BestBrands Oatmeal

Quaker Simple Harvest Maple Brown Sugar With Pecans Instant Oatmeal

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(Single Serving; calories 160, total fat 3.5g, sodium 75mg, dietary fiber 4g, sugar 9g)

INGREDIENTS: WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED WHEAT, ROLLED BARLEY, WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED RYE, SUGAR, PECANS, WHOLE FLAXSEED, OAT FLOUR, NATURAL FLAVORS, SALT, MOLASSES. CONTAINS WHEAT AND PECAN

Wondering why this variety, also made by Quaker is a healthy choice? Check it out:

  • The first four ingredients are easily recognizable: a whole grain blend of oats, wheat, barley and rye.
  • It also includes powerhouse ingredients like flaxseed, oat flour and pecans. Although it does contain a small amount of sugar, it isn’t the lab-created, refined make-you-fat kind.
  • There’s also a healthy dose of fiber (4 grams) and protein (4 grams), and its low in sodium.

So, before rushing head-on into gridlock traffic, take an instant for a bowl of oatmeal that has earned our BestBrands stamp of approval!


And remember, when there’s time, indulge in the Brand Doctor’s all-time favorite:

McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal

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(Single Serving; calories 150, total fat 2g, sodium 0mg, dietary fiber 4g, sugar 0g)

INGREDIENTS: 100% WHOLEGRAIN IRISH OATS

Notice there’s only one ingredient – 100 percent whole grains! Nothing is added and nothing is artificial. And, it contains all natural fiber and protein. Top it off with fresh fruit, chopped nuts, a smidge of real butter, and some cinnamon – and you’ve created a real comfort food. Plus, a delicious bowl of nourishment that provides plenty of fuel to jumpstart your day!

Isn’t anything worth having, worth waiting for? We think so.

Remember, when you’re armed with a little eBrandAid know-how, you’re in control at the grocery store.

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In Our Opinion: The information contained in the eBrandAid e-newsletters is strictly based on the opinions of the eBrand Doctors. We have created a set of guidelines that we believe will help shoppers to better understand and decode food labels on products found in most grocery stores. Our mission is to help shoppers find the healthier brands that have the least amount of chemicals and other junk ingredients.

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