The topic of oat consumption has always confused me. Moreover, many of my gym clients ask me about its consumability. I hope this discussion brings some clarity.
Whole oats have a hard outer husk that must be removed before it’s ready for human consumption. Hulled oats are known as ‘groats’. Oat groats are the whole oat grain without the husk. Although they come with the outer bran intact they can be eaten at this stage. They are, however, processed into steel cut, rolled, or instant oats.
Steel cut oats are made by passing groats through steel cutters that chop each one into three or four pieces. Since they still contain the whole grain including the oat bran they are very nutritious.
Rolled oats are made by steaming groats and flattening them with a roller. Oats when processed lose a lot of their nutrition.
Instant oats are made similarly to rolled oats. They are, however, steamed longer and rolled more thinly. It means the processing continues unabated. The more you process a food the less nutritious it becomes.
If you are consuming oats, you are most likely eating the rolled or instant ones. In these processed oats the bran is removed. The bran contains a great deal of nutrition. Steel-cut oats and oat groats are the least processed, and so should be most preferred.