Oats contain the soluble fibre beta-glucan; a compound said to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Studies show that as little as 3 grammes of beta-glucan is sufficient to reduce blood cholesterol by up to 10%, with a measurable effect after a minimum of 6 weeks.
So how many oats do you need to eat to get your 3g daily dose? You need around 100g. that’s about 3 packets of Oat-So-Simple, 10 decent oatcakes (of the type featured below) or 6 slices of oat bread. That’s going some. However, oats can be eaten as part of your daily meals in a variety of tasty options (not just porridge) and combined with other foodstuffs known for their cholesterol lowering properties such as soya, nuts and Benecol or variant products.
I’ve been trying a few of these products out. As it turns out there does seem to be a leaning towards Nairn’s products but this is in no way an endorsement of any particular brand. Tesco do a range of own-brand products for instance at around the same price point (and as an aside I find their yoghurt sterol shots nicer than Benecol).
First up are Nairn’s oatcakes. I have been eating these for a few years with fish pate, mushed up tuna and salad cream, humus etc. They are great with cheese but I avoid cheese as much as I can. The rough oatcakes are nicer than the smoother milled oatcakes you can get which have a rather odd smell to them. A big drink is definitely recommended to accompany these as they can get very claggy and mouth-drying very quickly.
You could I guess accompany the oatcakes with Alpro’s Oat Original drink, but I found it pretty watery. Better than Alpro’s almond milk in my opinion which has quite a strange plasticky afertaste, but not as good as Oat Dream which is actually very nice on cereal (especially crunchy nut cornflakes – but that might be more to do with the cereal and less to do with the liquid). Oat Dream is more expensive than Oat Original, but you get what you pay for. However, to be frank after I tried a few of these alternatives to milk, I have gone back to dairy.
Next up are Nairn’s gluten free Breakfast Biscuit Breaks. They come in packs of three and again need to be accompanied by a drink – great with a cup of tea or coffee. They contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and no hydrogenated fat. We got a load of packs courtesy of Gems At Work at our office so I got the chance to try the apricot and berry flavours for free.
The apricot flavour was my favourite and it was good to see ‘5% apricots’ in the list of ingredients. They reminded me a lot of Hobnobs before they got superseded by the classic Chocolate Hobnobs.
I think most people have tried the instant pots of porridge that you can get for around 50p, but I prefer to use proper milk and use the Oat So Simple sachets instead. One word of caution about these is that they do seem to contain a lot of sugar and the amount of ‘bits’ of non-oat ingredients such as dried apple or berries seems to vary greatly from packet to packet.
Here’s a summary of my intensive testing:
- Golden Syrup – probably a close favourite with Apple and Cherry flavour. Very sweet but extremely tasty and reminding me of my dad’s home cooking which used a lot of Golden Syrup
- Apple and Cherry – a close fave with the above flavour. Lots of delicious chunks of dried fruit.
- Summer Berries – suffers from too many raspberry pips making tooth brushing essential afterwards.
- Pecan and Maple – not a great flavour in my opinion, tastes kind of boring if that’s possible.
- Blueberry and Banana – I’m not usually a big fan of ‘artificial’ banana flavour but this works really well with the blueberries. They disintegrate into the porridge with a bit of mixing turning it a kind of odd purple colour reminiscent of coffee shop muffins.
- Apple and Blueberry – again with the blueberries, but less I feel as the mix doesn’t change colour. The bits of apple are tasty though.
For breakfast I also tried some oat muesli. Again it’s gluten free if that’s your fad (and it is a fad, unless you’re one of these 1 in a 1000(?) people who have a proper condition). There are lots of sultanas in it (20%), sunflower seeds (10%), flaxseed (5%), dried cranberries (5%) and 0% sugar (apart from a little with the dried cranberries).
The oats are lovely and soft in cold milk and it makes a welcome change to eat this than have to wait around 2mins for the porridge to cook and then realise you didn’t put enough milk in and have to try and stir the lumps out of it. The packet had a suggestion on it to try the muesli with hot milk, but I didn’t. I recently tried hot milk with Shreddies and cornflakes and it has put me off using hot milk for anything but making porridge.
Anyway, that’s my first ‘healthy eating’ post, unless you count the Caeser’s salad post. It’s something I should do more of I guess.