Why eat soaked oats?
Most folks have heard that oats contain beta-glucan, a soluble fibre that helps remove LDL-Cholesterol, but this grain has other great benefits too.
Avena sativa or oats, also contains avenathramides, anti-oxidants that help prevent free radical damage, reducing the risk of a heart-attack or stroke.
Rolled or steel cuts oats provide a low GI (Glycemic Index) complex carbohydrate which the body can slowly convert into simple sugars. This and the high levels of magnesium in oats (235mg Magnesium/100g (59% DV)) help nourish the body and regulate glucose absorption in the intestine, protecting against obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Beta-glucan has also been shown to help neutrophils respond more quickly to an attack on the immune system and enhances their ability ingest foreign bacteria.
Oats like many whole grains, also contain lignans which are thought to play a role in preventing hormone-associated cancers, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
Just one word of warning for those intolerant of gluten or suffering from Coeliac disease. Oats do contain 16% Avenin, a protein similar to the gluten found in wheat. However if oats are prepared in a wheat-free environment some Coeliac sufferers can eat them.
So if you are going to eat oats, why soak them?
Like other seeds, oats contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors to prevent premature germination. Without soaking, sprouting or fermentation these can cause gas and bloating.
Untreated phytic acid combines with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc in the intestinal track and blocks their absorption. So a diet high in unfermented whole grains may led to mineral deficiencies and bone loss.
If you add water, warmth and a slightly acidic environment to Rolled Oats, the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are neutralized. Tannins, complex sugars, gluten and other difficult to digest substances are broken down for easy digestion and best of all vitamin content, particularly B vitamins increases.
Fermentation or souring of grains is part of many ethnic cuisines. Iddli and dosai, our local Indian snacks, are made from fermented rice and urad dahl. In Wales, ‘Llymru’ or flummery is a soured porridge made from oats often served with buttermilk. Bangalore has soured ‘Ragi’ porridge, West Africa soured millet porridge or ‘Ogi’. In European health spas, Bircher muesli with fresh fruit is a common breakfast. To enjoy this healthy boost see our Bircher Muesli recipe here.