Is Oat Bran A Nutritious And A Low Carb Oatmeal?

Is Oat Bran A Nutritious And A Low Carb Oatmeal?

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. Because of the high fiber content, oat bran can be a low carb oatmeal when it is prepared properly.

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)
Calories 69 na
Carbohydrate 18.5 g
Fiber 4.3 g 17%
Net Carb 14.1
Protein 4.8 g
Thiamine 0.3 mg 22%
Folate 14.6 mcg 4%
Betaine 5.5 mg
Choline 9 mg <1%
Saturated fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated fat 0.7 mg
Polyunsaturated fat 0.8 mg
Iron 1.5 mg 8%
Magnesium 65 mg 16%
Phosphorus 206 mg 20%
Potassium 158 mg 5%
Selenium 12.7 mcg 18%

What is a Net Carb?

When we consider whether foods have carbs, it is important to realize that not all carbohydrates absorb and turn into sugar in the body.  Fiber does not absorb, yet fiber carb is part of the nutrition facts on food labels.  Oats have carb or carbohydrates; that’s a fact.  However, they are lower in net carb and further, slowly digestible carbs.

How do I find out net carbs? Net carb amount is a calculation you can do:  simply subtract the fiber from the carbohydrate count. Net carb is a slowly digested or non-digested form of carb. Total carbs are misleading on labels in this way.

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.

Is oatmeal a carb?  No single food is purely carbohydrate, unless it is highly processed.  Oatmeal that is made with oat bran is a balance of healthy fats, fiber, protein, and slowly digestible carbohydrate.

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. This further answers the question about oatmeal carbohydrate amounts.  It is a low net carb and low glycemic index food, making it suitable for most people, even on low carb diets.

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 keto 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.

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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:

  • IL-8
  • NF-κB
  • TNF-α

Beneficial bacteria amounts also improved in the colon.

Oat bran improved innate immune response to infection in animal studies [R] [R].

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.

{Please note that this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.}

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 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. It also has 9 grams of protein per serving; unheard of for hot cereal recipes! It can be a great meal for keto diets on exercise days too.

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 in oat bran anywhere recipes call for flour ingredients. These can be part of many low carb keto recipes too.  They can add some variety and flavor into recipes that call for almond flour as well.

Ideas:

  • Add to your smoothies for a nutrient boost
  • Mix into plain yogurt for breakfast
  • 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
  • Use half almond flour and half oat bran flour for improved recipe texture

Low Carb Oatmeal Recipe

Keep in mind, this recipe can be one of your low carb recipes because it is low NET carb.  Because of the low glycemic index and high protein content, it will be slow to digest, making it ideal for keto oatmeal and keto breakfasts.  Leave out the raspberries if you want it to be sugar free.  Chia seeds and hemp seeds give the recipe extra vitamin E, antioxidants, and fiber.  Coconut milk gives this recipe a very quickly digested fat for exercise fuel. Almond butter gives this a little extra healthy fat and protein boost.

You can also substitute peanut butter for almond butter if you wish.  Unsweetened, shredded coconut can be added for more texture and flavor.

Bowl of low carb oatmeal with fresh raspberries and cinnamon by The Healthy RD
Print Recipe
5 from 8 votes

Low Carb Oatmeal

This high protein, low net carb cereal is packed with nutrition to fuel your day.  Adjust flavors and spices to your taste preferences.  CPTG essential oil is a nice add-in that may help speed up glucose metabolism as well!
Prep Time1 min
Cook Time2 mins
Total Time3 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 435kcal
Author: Healthy RD

Ingredients

Instructions

  • 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.  
    Bowl of low carb oatmeal with fresh raspberries and cinnamon by The Healthy RD

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 435kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 577mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin C: 6.7% | Calcium: 17.4% | Iron: 25.9%

* Nutrition facts will vary slightly depending on ingredient add-ins.

Other oat recipes that are healthy:

Precautions

Oat bran is a safe food and can be a healthy part of many meal plans. You should discuss with your doctor or dietitian before changing anything in your diet and health routine.

Summary

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.

8 Comments
    1. The texture and nutrition will be different and the cooking time will be different. I suggest using cream of oats for this recipe. Thanks for reading my post!

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