The Benefits of Oatmeal: Raw Vs Cooked

Hi all! Coach Mindy here!

It is well known that whole grain oats are very nutritious. They contain a wide assortment of vitamins, proteins, minerals, fibers, and antioxidants. Oatmeal is beneficial no matter how it’s prepared. But which way is better? Let’s first look at the ways oatmeal is prepared.

The most popular ways of preparing oats are either cooked in a microwave or stove top or soaking the oats in a liquid to create overnight oats. The clear difference is one is cooked and one is raw, but which one is more healthy?

Let’s look at the advantages of cooked oats vs. overnight oats. While both methods are beneficial, it appears that overnight oats tips the scales. And the reason is a process called fermentation. When oats are allowed to soak overnight, or for an extended amount of time, the grain will start to ferment which enhances all the health benefits of the oats. Accessible nutritional value is advanced, valuable gut bacteria is incorporated, and digestion is improved when oats are allowed to ferment.

While not everyone agrees on which methods they prefer, they both have their advantages. Cooked oats serve as a hot comfort food in the cold winter months and have less calories per volume. The reason cooked oats have less calories is because of the water content. Just ½ cup of raw oats turns into 1 cup when cooked. So obviously, 1 cup of raw oats will be twice the amount of calories and carbohydrates. However, cooking oats reduces up to 25% of available nutrients and actually creates a substance found in many plant based foods, inositol hexaphosphate or Phytic Acid. This anti-nutrient binds to other minerals you are consuming and blocks absorption. Our bodies do not have the enzymes necessary to break down these phytates. Soaking the oats significantly reduces their phytate levels. Cooking does, however, open up accessibility to other nutrients all while reducing the quantity of others. The amount of heat used in cooking can greatly affect the quality of nutrients so if you prefer cooked oats, cook them at a lower heat for a shorter amount of time to magnify the number of nutrients.

Overnight oats are raw oats that are soaked overnight. You can use just about any liquid you prefer: Water, milk, dairy free milk, coconut milk or water, juice, or even yogurt. I like to use unsweetened vanilla almond milk. When you soak the oats overnight, they become softened and more easily digestible.

Here is a basic overnight oats recipe:

  • Oats (be sure to use rolled oats, not quick oats or steel cut)
  • Liquid (milk or water) of choice
  • Chia seeds (optional)
  • Yogurt (optional)
  • Extracts (optional – vanilla, almond, lemon, etc)
  • Sweetener (optional – sugar, artificial sweeteners, stevia, monkfuit, honey, maple syrup)
  • Toppings (optional – fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, coconut, cinnamon, nut butters, the sky’s the limit)

To make the overnight oats you need a jar, bowl or a cup big enough to hold all the contents. Your ratio will be 1 part oats +1 part liquid. (Example ½ cup oats to ½ cup water is one serving) Then you will add in your other ingredients except for toppings. The amount is dependent upon your preference but remember that the calories can add up so be sure to measure in order to track appropriately.

Mix thoroughly and place in your refrigerator to store at least 2 hrs or overnight. The next morning you can heat for a bit if you prefer your oats warm, you can also let it sit out to room temperature, or eat cold. Don’t forget to add your toppings before you dig in!

Here are a couple of my favorite ways to have my overnight oats:

Apple Pie:

  • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • Greek yogurt
  • Ground cinnamon.
  • Top with chopped apples, pecans, and maple syrup.


Almond Joy

  • Light coconut milk
  • Almond extract
  • Greek yogurt
  • Sweetener of choice
  • Top with shredded coconut and dark chocolate chips


Dreamsicle

  • ½ orange juice (I use reduced sugar)
  • ½ unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • Orange zest
  • Chia seeds
  • Toppings maple syrup and sometimes I like to mix it up with some walnuts and dried cranberries


Lemon Bar

  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Greek yogurt
  • Vanilla extract
  • Lemon zest
  • Poppyseeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Top with crushed reduced fat graham crackers

All of these recipes are completely customizable. You can search the internet for others or make your own. The possibilities are endless.

Happy Tracking!