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A Comparison of Steel Cut Oats, Old-Fashioned Oats, and Quick Oats

Are Steel-Cut Oats That Much Healthier Than Rolled Oats?

Rolled oats sound healthier for you than quick oats because they're less processed, right? So if steel-cut oats are even less processed than rolled oats, they're the healthiest of them all, right? If you're not even sure what the different types of oats are, the explanation below should clear things up.

To shed some light about which oats are better for you, check out the chart comparison below.

Steel-cut oats Old-fashioned (rolled) oats Quick oats
Description Also called Irish or Scotch oats, these are cut, not rolled. They look like chopped-up rice, take the longest to cook, and have a slightly chewy consistency. Sometimes called rolled oats, these look like flat little ovals. When processing these oats, the kernels are steamed first, and then rolled to flatten them. They take longer to cook than quick oats but are quicker than steel-cut oats. Also called instant oats, these oats are precooked, dried, and then rolled. They cook in a few minutes when added to hot water and have a mushy texture.
Typical Serving Size 1/4 cup dry 1/2 cup dry 1/2 cup dry
Calories 170 190 150
Total Fat 3 g 3.5 g 3 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g 0.5 g 0.5 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 mg 0 mg
Sodium 0 mg 0 mg 0 mg
Carbs 29 g 32 g 27 g
Fiber 5 g 5 g 4 g
Sugars 0 g 1 g 1 g
Protein 7 g 7 g 5 g
Calcium 2% 2% 0%
Iron 10% 15% 10%

Surprised? It looks like they're pretty similar, but one thing that sets them apart is how they compare on the glycemic index. The less-processed steel-cut oats have a much lower glycemic load than higher-processed quick oats. Low-GI foods slow down the rate that glucose (sugar) gets introduced into your body, and in contrast, high-GI foods cause a spike in your blood sugar as well as insulin, causing you to crave more sugary foods when your glucose levels drop. The best option then are the steel-cut oats, with rolled oats a great second choice. They'll keep you feeling fuller longer, which will keep your energy levels up and help you lose weight.

If you're obsessed with this grain, here are some fun tips and recipes to help you enjoy it even more.

Daisy15148035 Daisy15148035 3 years
steel cut is my fav oats ,they take the longest time to cook but they store well in the fridge without getting soggy ,make a big batch at night and reheat in the morning for a quick breakfast ,Great for the kids with some juice and fruit ,this type of oats sticks with me longer ,Im not hungry an hour later
pamelabacan pamelabacan 8 years
i love oats! i could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
I use quick oats. I prefer fast breakfasts as I usually wake up starving.
michlny michlny 8 years
Steel cut oats are the least processed. This doesn't compare vitamins and minerals....that's where the bigger difference would be.
Sophie827 Sophie827 8 years
Well, Shelly bean - they might have double the calories, but they also have double the protein and fibre. They're pretty much the same if you consider the nutritional value you get for each calorie - except that steel cut has calcium.
fashionplate525 fashionplate525 8 years
Oh Alayni, brown sugar and almonds with oatmeal sounds sooo good-I must try that!!!
sideways sideways 8 years
I usually go for instant oats in the morning to make a quick, filing, and healthy breakfast. This way I can take it on the go and avoid making bad choices
originalamy originalamy 8 years
my thought is that because McCann's has more calcium, more protein, more fiber -- it is the healthier choice, despite having more calories but I would LOVE for a nutritionist to tell us what they think!
insanitypepper insanitypepper 8 years
Well, the steel cut oats are a denser food since they aren't pre-cooked or steamed. If you compare them by weight and not by volume, they look a lot more similar to each other.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I choose the steel cut oats because I need all the protein I can get, plus I like the way they taste and the texture they have.
Alayni Alayni 8 years
Steel cut- I eat it every morning with fruit and ground flaxseed or brown sugar and almonds. it's delicious and very filling.
vanillabean vanillabean 8 years
I only like to eat oatmeal when the weather is cold so I am very glad the seasons have changed. I buy the old-fashioned oats and cook it in the microwave. I tried to do steel, but I'm too busy, and the container sat in my cupboard brand new until way past the expiration date.
originalamy originalamy 8 years
McCann's a few times per week but now I'm wondering if I should switch to Bear Naked? Which one is truly better for you? More calcium, fiber and protein in McCann's so I'm guessing that's the winner?
syako syako 8 years
We use rolled. I agree, I'm happy to get to start eating this again now that it's cooler out. Sometimes we'll have oatmeal as a lunch and just add some browned kielbasa to it. It's actually really good and filling.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
I use old fashioned and the Irish oatmeal. I used to hate oatmeal but I've come to really enjoy it now and I have it several times a week.
2muchtv 2muchtv 8 years
How come quick oats have calcium, while Rolled doesn't? I've heard that instant and rolled are about the same nutritionally, but I haven't looked into it, so now I know. I think I'll spend the extra dough and get the steel cut from now on, though. For an oatmeal variation, might I suggest adding buckwheat? It takes longer to prepare (you have to cook it more prior to adding oats), but I love the extra texture it adds. It sits in my tummy longer, also.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
I am so happy winter is coming so I can have all things oatmeal :)
michlny michlny 8 years
Steel cuts is by far the best nutritionally. It's digested the slowest and the least processed. Plus they taste so different -- they have a nutty crunch. Love 'em!
Kellie1982 Kellie1982 8 years
This is good information. I eat oatmeal almost daily, unless I substitute with Kashi cereal because I'm in a hurry. I have been on the Eat Clean diet by Tosca Reno and she always says that oatmeal is an important diet staple for keeping hunger away and fueling the body early in the day. I use the old fashioned rolled oats. It takes a few more minutes that the instant but are healthier. I add fruits like bananas, blueberries, and I always have cinnamon in it.
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