When you think of breakfast, the first option that may come to mind is some oatmeal. Unlike other grains, oats are high in fiber and are a preferred preventive treatment for blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases.

Oatmeal is versatile, inexpensive, and healthy. You can be full in no time without feeling bloated. Here’s what you need to know about oatmeal glycemic index.

Types of Oats

Whole Grain Oats

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Whole grain oats, also known as oat groats are high in nutrition and are minimally-processed. They do not have the inedible hull and have a chewy texture, which makes them ideal for breakfast. Also, they take longer to cook as opposed to other oats.

Scottish Oats

Scottish oats also called oatmeal are from Scotland. They are irregular and stone-ground, which makes them easier to cook.

Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are whole oat groats cut into tiny pieces with a metal blade. They have a broader surface, which makes them absorb water and cook for only 20 minutes.

Rolled Oats

Rolled oats go through a steaming process which makes them soft. They manufacturer turns them into flakes and packs them. Furthermore, these oats have a longer shelf life that doesn’t affect their nutritional content. You can cook them for ten minutes. Rolled oats retain their shape when cooked, unlike other oats.

Instant Oats

Instant oats go through the same process as rolled oats, but take a long time which means they are halfway ready. Quick oats are less chewy and creamier in texture. All you need is to add hot water to a bowl of instant oats and let it stand for some minutes.

Quick oats have emulsifiers, skim milk powder, and preservatives to keep them creamy. You’ll also find that these oats have a mushy texture and change shape when cooked.

What is the Glycemic Index?

Glycemic index measures how a specific food increases your blood glucose. It’s a measure used for carbohydrates, as these are the only foods that can convert into glucose. There are simple and complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are easy to digest while complex carbohydrates take a longer time to metabolize. Moreover, GI compares a specific food to a reference food, like pure glucose or white bread.

If a particular food has a glycemic index of 50, it means that it can cause a blood sugar spike to be as high as 50% as compared to eating pure glucose. Foods with a lower GI are healthier as they don’t raise blood glucose levels.

It’s critical to note that the glycemic index of food differs when it’s eaten alone than when it’s mixed with other foods. If you eat a high GI food, you can mix it with those with a low glycemic index to balance out the effect.

Moreover, most nutritious foods have a higher glycemic index than foods with less nutritional value.The oatmeal glycemic index is higher than that of chocolate. When using the glycemic index, you need to balance the basic nutrition principles. Also, eat foods with few nutrients with moderation.

What is Glycemic Load?

A glycemic load is a number that you get when you multiply the grams of digestible carbs in a single serving of food by its Glycemic Index value and dividing it by 100.

Why Should You Eat Foods With Low Glycemic Index?

After eating carbohydrates, the body breaks the food into sugar, which causes a spike in blood sugar levels. The process triggers the pancreas to release insulin that cells absorb as blood glucose for future use.

While this may work for healthy people, individuals with type 2 diabetes, the cells become resistant to insulin which makes it difficult to control their blood sugar levels. You need to eat foods with a low GI to regulate your blood sugar.

Does Oatmeal Have a Low Glycemic Index?

Although oats are healthy, some are more nutritious than others are. The varieties undergo processing which results in different tastes, textures, and cooking times. Instant oatmeal is different from oatmeal made from whole grain oats.

Most instant oatmeal blends have a mixture of flours and oats, while some brands add sugar and strip all the fibers away. Instant oatmeal is a highly processed food has a high glycemic index. Instant oatmeal glycemic index stands at 83, which is higher than the average glycemic index.

Are There any Risks of Eating Oatmeal?

While there are some risks of eating oatmeal, there are certain things you should be aware of
when eating oats.

These include:

  • High in carbs
  • Oats contain carbohydrates, and you need to eat it in moderation.
  • Extra Ingredients

Some oats have added ingredients which can be harmful to people suffering from diabetes 2, particularly for those with added sugars. It’s essential to check the labels and only consume whole grain rolled oats.

Dangerous For People with Gastroparesis

Oats may worsen the symptoms of gastroparesis, and you may need to avoid oats if you have
this condition.


Oats have wheat gluten which could lead to possible allergies. Look for gluten-free oats if you
have wheat allergies.

What Other Options Should You Consider?

Foods with a low glycemic index are slowly absorbed and reduce blood sugar spikes after meals. The GI can change depending on the cooking methods, processing used, and the type of grain. Processed foods like instant oatmeal have a higher glycemic index

Also, grains that lack bran and germ are less healthy as they have minimal fiber. Fiber is essential as it helps lower the risk of heart disease and controls blood sugar levels.


Rolled and Steel-Cut Oats

You can find low GI foods that can help prevent this. The American Diabetes Association recommend steel-cut oats, ground oatmeal, and oat bran as they have a GI value that doesn’t exceed 55.

Rolled and steel-cut oats contain more fiber as processing doesn’t strip it away. Moreover, they have a lower GI which releases energy slowly throughout the morning. These two types of oats have less added sugars than instant oatmeal which makes them a healthier alternative.

You can sweeten your oats by adding fresh fruit like an apple, pear, banana, or fresh berries. Alternatively, you can add some honey to encourage your kids to eat oats.

Oat bran

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Oat bran is highly absorbent as it contains a soluble fiber called beta-glucans. You’ll need to leave the cereal to soak for some time before eating as you need to eat as much beta-glucans to help balance your blood sugar levels.

Beta-glucans slowly release the carbohydrates you eat and lower cholesterol. This leaves you feeling full and satisfied. Oats have 6.6% beta-glucans.

Ways to Incorporate Oats into Meals

  • Use rolled oats for crumbing chicken
  • Add oats to your favorite smoothies
  • Cook some rolled oats and add berries and yogurt
  • Make porridge using milk, rolled oats, cinnamon, and grated apple
  • Add oats to granola bars, loaves, or muffins

Natural Muesli

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Natural muesli is made of rolled oats and contains dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. It's low-glycemic and an excellent breakfast alternative. The University of Sydney estimates that Muesli has a GI of 40. Look for brands of muesli that do not have added sugar.


Kellogg’s manufactures all-bran, and it’s a high-fiber made of wheat bran. Wheat bran is low-glycemic as it contains little to no sugar. The University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics estimate that All-Bran has a GI of 42.

Special K Original

This is another cereal with a low GI. It has rice, wheat, and lightly toasted flakes. According to the University of Wisconsin Health, Special K has a glycemic index of 54. The manufacturer states that the variety has four grams of sugar per a cup of serving.

Rye or Barley

Wholegrain rye bread when combined with a protein-rich food make an excellent choice for breakfast. You can find whole rye bread which is dense and denser than wheat bread. Rye also modifies genetic expression away from insulin resistance, which reverses the indicators of metabolic syndrome.

Wholegrain pearl barley has lots of beta-glucans and soluble fiber, making it a top cereal option. It’s chewy and boils like brown rice.


Oats can be a healthier option for anyone looking for versatile and inexpensive breakfast food. However, you need to differentiate between the various types of oats and only choose whole grain oats that are rich in fiber and help stabilize sugar levels.

Remember that using the glycemic index to determine which foods are healthy can be deceiving. Some foods are high in GI, but do offer nutritional value while others have a lower GI, but lack any nutritional benefits.

Moreover, foods with a higher glycemic index when combined with certain foods may help lower their GI. It’s essential to eat a well-balanced diet and not use the GI as the only determinant.

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