The Benefits of Eating Overnight Oats, An Age-Old Scandanavian Breakfast
Megan Fahey, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian, Functional Medicine Nutritionist and Registered Yoga Teacher. She holds her Masters of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Bastyr University, where she was trained to artfully blend eastern and western healing modalities.
I usually start off my day with a bowl of delicious oatmeal topped with almonds, berries, dates, and cinnamon. As a Norwegian, oatmeal is a food with long traditions; it's been eaten daily for generations—dating as far back as the Vikings.
Oats offer a profile of complex carbohydrates, protein, and essential fatty acids. Containing beta-glucan fiber and some resistant starch, oats are an excellent prebiotic food, feeding the good bacteria to promote a healthy gut flora.Beta-glucan itself has been studied for a wide range of health benefits, including its effects on the immune system.
Oats, as well as other grains, legumes, and nuts contain a high amount of phytic acid. In cereal grains, phytic acid is found in the outermost shell.
In our digestive tract, phytic acid binds to minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc, which make them indigestible in the body.
It also acts as an inhibitor for important digestive enzymes such as pepsin, amylase, and trypsin. A diet high in phytic acid will therefore make it more challenging for the body to optimally absorb and utilize the nutrients present.
The solution: soaking
Before I go to bed, I prepare my breakfast for the next day by mixing oats, rice milk, and salt in a small dish or jar. You can also use water, almond milk, or coconut milk instead.
To add more protein, I always put in a handful of almonds, too. I store it at room temperature, but you can also put it in the fridge. Overnight, the oats and almonds swell in size and the phytic acid is reduced.
The next morning you can either choose to eat the oatmeal raw or to heat it up. I personally prefer to heat it up a bit; if not, you can simply top with fruit and spices and eat.
Soaking is not a fancy new method but an old tradition for preparing grains—it's similar to techniques like sprouting and fermenting.
Oatmeal for One
- ¾ cup oatmeal
- 1 cup rice milk
- ⅓ teaspoon sea salt
- A handful of chopped almonds
1. Mix together, cover, and let sit overnight.
2. The next morning: Enjoy raw or heat up. I personally prefer to heat it up a bit, as it helps reduce the phytic acid content even more. Before eating, add in:
- 2 dates, chopped small
- A small handful of raw cocoa nibs
- ½ fresh blueberries
- ⅓ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
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