Oat bran is fibrous, but don’t let that scare you away; it can taste great. Oat bran nutrition is off the charts and it won’t spike your blood sugar like many grain options. I personally love cream of oats variety of oat bran, which is a tasty sub for the less-nutritious cream of wheat. It is easy to make low carb oatmeal recipes with it too! Learn why you can include oat bran even if you are limiting carbohydrates.
History of Oats
Oats (Avina sativa) are a type of grass seed that are thought to originally be from West Asia and first eaten around 2000 B.C. Oats were probably only eaten as weed seeds that far back.
Oats took a long time to get popular because people generally weren’t as first fond of the taste. This is probably because they are higher fat content than other grains, and are more susceptible to spoiling.
People in northern Europe, such as Scandinavia and Scotland, grew more oats than other countries because it is a crop that does better in colder weather. Oats gradually gained more popularity across the world. Most oats on the market today are heated to reduce spoiling, so tastes are much improved!
What is Oat Bran?
Oat bran is the fibrous, protective coating of the oat seed that is packed with nutrition. The fiber of oat bran is softer than that of wheat or other grains because its fiber content is more soluble.
Soluble fibers soak up water more easily than non-soluble fibers. Therefore, it has a smoother, more palatable texture than wheat bran.
Oat Bran Nutrition
Oat bran is a very rich source of magnesium. This is important because magnesium is a critical nutrient that so many people lack. It is also a good source of other minerals, including phosphorus and selenium. Oats are one of the highest food sources of thiamine (vitamin B1).
Oat bran fiber is very unique in structure as you will also learn below. It is slowly digestible and even reduces glucose levels. Oats are the only food to contain a powerful antioxidant called avenanthramide, which gives oats unique health benefits.
Oat bran nutrition contents per 1 oz and percent daily value of the Recommended Daily Intake:
|Nutrient||Amount||Percent DV (RDI)|
|Saturated fat||0.2 g|
|Monounsaturated fat||0.7 mg|
|Polyunsaturated fat||0.8 mg|
What is a Net Carb?
Net carb simply subtracts the fiber, which is a slowly digested or non-digested form of carb, from the total carbs. To find out net carbs of oat bran, simply take the total carb of 18.4 g and subtract the fiber content of 4.3 and you get net carb amount of 18.1 grams.
Oat Bran Glycemic index
Oat bran has a glycemic index of 50, making it a low glycemic index food. This means it does not spike blood sugar quickly after a meal.
Is Oat Bran Gluten Free?
Are oats gluten free? Oats with less than 20 parts per billion of gluten can technically be considered gluten free and do not seem to cause symptoms in most patients with celiac disease.
When choosing oats and oat bran, make sure to find labels that say gluten free, as some oats can be contaminated with other grains with gluten.
If you have celiac disease, a small percentage of you may still have sensitivity to gluten-free oats. Why? According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, oat contain avenin, a protein that is similar to gluten in structure that activates immune cells.
Generally, people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity can tolerate gluten-free oats.
Beta Glucan in Oat Bran
Beta glucan is a viscous or soluble type of fiber found in things like oats, yeast, bacteria, mushrooms, and algae. Oat bran is the most concentrated place of beta glucan in oats. It is a type of fiber that has a lot of research supporting health benefits.
Beta glucan content of oat bran is between 15-40% of the total weight, making it very concentrated in this healthy fiber.
Oat Bran Health Benefits
Can Be a Healthy, Low Carb Oatmeal
Eating oat bran on a low carb diet can fit in well, even if following a keto diet. How is this possible?
While oat bran is not technically low carb on its own, it can be if prepared correctly. See below for some recipe options.
You will soon find out that oat bran acts low carb in the body as well; it reduces blood sugar spikes and insulin levels!
While some experts extol the keto diet and others scoff at it, keto has its health benefits and can be useful for some health conditions. Always seek advice from a health professional first.
Based on research, oat bran can be a great add in as a low carb oatmeal because of its metabolic benefits.
Additionally, many athletes who follow a keto diet include carbohydrate sources before exercise and still remain in ketosis as well. These keto diets include the targeted keto diet and cyclical ketogenic diet.
Personally, keto isn’t for me because I’m already very lean with a high metabolism, but I am mindful of having healthy carbs and including low net carbs.
Oat Bran Heart Benefits
A compilation study of 14 clinical trials concluded that oat bran reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, after-meal glucose spikes, hemoglobin A1C, and insulin levels.
Another similar study of 28 clinical trials concluded that adding 3 grams or more of oat beta glucan per day robustly reduces LDL cholesterol.
Oat bran reduces harmful cholesterol by complex mechanisms in the food structure. It may also help increase fat breakdown, or lipolysis, as well.
Oat bran may also have heart health benefits because it may:
- Reduce immune cell (monocyte) stickiness in the artery walls
- May reduce release of proinflammatory compounds in immune cells
LDL cholesterol can improve on average 23 percent when including oat bran in your diet as shown by numerous clinical research studies.
Oat Bran Digestive Health Benefits
Butyrate is a type of fat that is known to help improve digestive health. Oat bran may increase the body’s butyrate level s in the digestive tract.
Adding fiber-rich foods to the diet like oat bran can reduce constipation as well as laxatives, according to recent research. The majority of people find constipation relief when adding more fiber to their diet. Fiber-rich foods can also reduce diarrhea symptoms in some people!
Be careful to also increase fluids in your diet when you increase fiber. Make sure to also increase fiber in your diet gradually to avoid side effects.
Oat bran, a type of prebiotic, may improve the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract as well.
Make sure to also stay active and eat a well-balanced diet to have the best digestive health.
Oat Bran Improves Diabetes
14 studies have shown that oat bran is useful to manage diabetes. That’s pretty strong evidence.
Oat bran reduces the body’s insulin response to meals and also suppressed gene sets related to insulin levels in a small clinical study. This is a good thing because insulin spikes are linked to heart disease and diabetes complications, along with cancer risks.
Eating oat bran before a meal may also reduces the glucose spike from foods.
Cancer Risk Reduction
Foods high in soluble fiber, such as oat bran, may reduce chances of estrogen receptor negative breast cancer.
Oat bran contains an anti-inflammatory compounds called avenanthramides, which may reduce growth of colon cancer cells as shown in cell studies.
Foods like oat bran that increase butyrate levels in the digestive tract may reduce colon cancer risk.
While research remains preliminary in this area, oats may have a protective effect against cancer.
May Support Weight Loss
Although no single food or ingredient can work alone for weight loss, nutrient-dense foods with low glycemic index often support weight loss. Oat bran is no exception.
A long term study showed that people with diabetes eating 100 grams of oat bran per day for a year had more weight loss than those who didn’t.
Oat Bran for Immune Benefits
Most of the research so far on oats and immunity has been in animal studies, but oat beta glucan looks promising for healthy immunity.
Oat bran is 15-40% beta glucan content. Beta glucan may help immune function.
The beta glucan from oats was able to improve resistance to viruses after a swim test in mice.
Inflammation markers were reduced with inclusion of oat bran in a study of pigs.
This includes reduced gene levels of in the colon and cecum:
Beneficial bacteria amounts also improved in the colon.
May Improve Exercise Endurance
Oat bran given pre-exercise reduced time to exhaustion and reduced inflammation in a study of mice.
Research in this area remains preliminary.
Best Oats for Health
It is best to choose oats that have no added sugar or added salts. Some convenience oatmeal or instant oatmeal brands add a whopping 12 grams of sugar per tiny serving!
Choose the following healthy oat options:
- Oat bran
- Cream of oats
- Steel cut oats
- Old-fashioned rolled oats.
- Oat groats
- Sprouted oats
- Fermented oats
Oat groats are simply the whole oat seed with the hull removed.
Wheat Bran Versus Oat Bran
Nutritionally, the two are quite different.
Oat bran has more protein, soluble fiber, fat, thiamine, and folate than wheat bran. Wheat bran has more insoluble fiber, niacin, and vitamin B6. Both are quite high in magnesium. For those with gluten sensitivity, oat bran is a much better choice.
Oat bran is more likely able to increase the growth of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, in the digestive tract because it is more easily fermented.
The texture of oat bran is much more creamy when cooked as a cereal than wheat bran. This makes it a very good add-in for recipes and a great substitute for more processed grains.
Oat Bran Forms
Many companies sell oat bran, including gluten-free oat brans.
It can be coarsely ground or finely ground, as is the case for cream of oats.
Cream of oats is a relatively new product from a company called Montana Gluten Free. It is a finely ground oat bran. I simply fell in love with it because it is so tasty like Cream of Wheat.
I no longer can eat Cream of Wheat because I’m sensitive to gluten, so I was delighted to find this comfort food. It is same in taste and texture, but so much more nutritious!
Buy Oat Bran
Healthy Oatmeal Brands
Gluten-free oat and oat bran options are available at Montana Gluten Free. They also do NOT spray their crops with Round Up (glyphosate). This herbicide now implicated in cancer risk. They also offer organic options.
You can also find oat bran at many online retailers like Amazon and in most grocery stores today.
Oat Bran Recipes
You can easily sub out oat bran or cream of oats into ANY of your baking recipes to improve health.
- Add to your smoothies for a nutrient boost
- Sub out unhealthy white flour with oat bran
- Use instead of wheat bran for a gluten-free option
- Make a quick power breakfast using the following recipe!
- Oat bran flour can be a nice baking flour because it draws moisture to it
Low Carb Oatmeal
Low Carb Oatmeal
- 1/4 cup Cream of Oats
- 1 Tbsp Chia seeds or hemp hearts
- 1 Tbsp Flaxseed, ground
- 1 Tbsp Almond butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla optional
- 1 drop CPTG cinnamon essential oil optional
- 1 pinch Himalayan salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp raspberries optional
- 1 dash cinnamon, ground optional
- In a small saucepan, mix together cream of oats, chia seeds or hemp hearts, flaxseed, almond butter, unsweetened coconut milk, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat to simmer and remove from heat when mixture thickens. Add in vanilla and CPTG cinnamon drop. Top with raspberries and ground cinnamon if desired.
* Nutrition facts will vary slightly depending on ingredient add-ins.
Other oat recipes that are healthy:
Oat bran is a safe food. You should discuss with your doctor or dietitian before changing anything in your diet and health routine.
Oat bran is very nutritious and may improve your health, including cholesterol, diabetes, and may help manage weight. Oat bran can make a great low carb oatmeal ingredient in recipes and can replace unhealthy processed flours.
Gluten free oat bran is suitable for people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity and most people with celiac disease.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 20 years, has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. Has researched supplements and plants as medicine throughout her career. Loves helping people gain function and vitality by tackling root causes of illness.