Overnight oats | advantages and how to prepare it

Discover why overnight oats have become so fashionable, what this alternative way of preparing oats is and if they have additional health benefits beyond eating them in flakes or porridge.

t is difficult to find a single pantry in our homes that does not have oats inside. The cereal from the Avena sativa plant has become one of the most consumed foods by those people interested in following a healthy diet, and the reasons are varied.

On the one hand, we find oats a very interesting cereal nutritionally due to its good balance of proteins , dietary fiber , fats and carbohydrates . In addition, certain cardioprotective benefits derived from the presence of beta-glucans and great satiety after ingestion are attributed to it . On the other hand, oats also turn out to be very versatile in various culinary preparations based on oat flakes, flours, porridges or porridge and also as the option we are dealing with today: “ overnight oats ” .

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What is overnight oats

The term “ overnight oats ” refers to an alternative way of preparing the usual porridges or porridge with oats without resorting to microwave heat stroke .

Normally, to make porridge, oats are heated using a liquid as a base. This is usually water or milk and serves to soften the texture of the oats and achieve certain desirable organoleptic characteristics, such as a more attractive flavor and aroma. It is also common to mix it with fresh fruit , seeds or nuts to enjoy different combinations and food mixtures. The problem is that sometimes when we heat it in the microwave we overdo it and put all the oatmeal in it.

However, in the case of overnight oats, the technique used is slightly different. This culinary alternative consists of soaking the oats with milk, water or a vegetable drink the night before – hence the word night . This way we will have a breakfast the next morning practically ready to serve and enjoy. Generally, it is consumed cold, but there are those who also heat it later. It is an interesting and practical way to speed up breakfast preparation for those people who have a busier pace of life.

What are the benefits of taking overnight oats?

A study published in the scientific journal European Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed the glycemic and insulin impact of overnight oats soaked in milk compared to different rice cream preparations that included sugar, seeds and nuts. That is, the aim was to know if this format of oat consumption could have extra benefits in relation to the metabolism of its carbohydrates, measuring the response of blood glucose and insulin .

The conclusions of the trial showed interesting data, with insulin and blood glucose measurements being 33% lower in those people who consumed overnight oats compared to those who took cream of rice. These results were replicated both for the consumption of isolated cereals and including different toppings .

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There is not much other scientific literature that has analyzed overnight oats in such detail, so it would be premature to draw solid conclusions regarding its additional benefits. On the other hand, it would be interesting to be able to compare these same effects with oats consumed in different formats – porridge, rolled oats and overnight oats, for example – to be able to know if overnight oats truly present greater advantages than the rest of the typical oat preparations. .

Beta-glucans in oats

It is really not necessary to look for great health benefits in overnight oats, since oats in general have great healthy benefits in themselves that have already been scientifically proven .

Oats stand out mainly for the presence of beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are a type of polysaccharides that are part of soluble fiber and are related to glycemic control, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol reduction in scientific literature  .

In fact, the beta-glucans in oats allow a health claim validated by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and legally approved in the European Union to be used: “oat beta-glucan has been shown to reduce cholesterol.” in the blood. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease.

How to make your overnight oats even better

As we said, at the moment there is no evidence that overnight oats provide great innovations compared to other ways of preparing cereal. However, it could provide some extra benefits if we slightly modify the original recipe. How to do it? It’s simple: combining heat and cold.

Thanks to changes in temperature it is possible to modify the structure of the starch contained in oats. Starch is the main energy reserve molecule in vegetables, and is made up of long glucose chains grouped as amylose and amylopectin.

Well, when starch cools after being heated, it undergoes a process known as “ retrogradation ” in which the starch molecules tend to group together, forming a much more rigid and firm framework known as resistant starch. This compound acts in the body in a similar way to dietary fiber, and benefits such as glycemic control and insulin resistance in people with diabetes are attributed to it .

To carry out this preparation we can take a bowl of oats with milk or our favorite vegetable drink (soy, oats or almond) and place it in the microwave for a few minutes until the cereal softens. In this way, the oats will have been cooked in our favorite liquid and we will obtain a kind of oat porridge. Later we will continue with the established pattern of placing the oats in the refrigerator and letting them rest overnight. A normal refrigeration temperature of around 8ºC will be sufficient. The next morning we will have a fantastic bowl of overnight oats with an extra resistant starch that you can complete with your favorite toppings . Pure food fantasy. Enjoy in a healthy way!

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