Can diabetics eat oatmeal?

Question: Can diabetics eat oatmeal?

Answer: Yes! Oats are a fantastic grain which offer a slew of health benefits. They contain a special type of fiber called beta-glucan. Beta glucan is a soluble fiber that's been shown to be beneficial in lowering one's blood cholesterol levels. (Remember those Cheerios commercial about lowering cholesterol? That's the beta glucan at work) This benefit is extremely helpful for those with diabetes since, as you may know, having diabetes increases one's risk of heart disease. And, lowering high cholesterol levels helps reduce one's risk of heart disease. Including oats as a regular part of your diet can help ward off one of the negative health risks associated with diabetes.

A steaming bowl of oatmeal for breakfast can be a great way to start the day. But, steer clear of those flavored little packets; they contain a good deal of added sugar. Stick to the bulk stuff in the big canisters or, if you really need the convenience of the little packets, just stick to the plain ones. But, that doesn't mean you have to eat it plain. You can make your own flavored oatmeal easily. But, first things first, to boost the nutrition content of your meal even more, prepare your oatmeal with lowfat or skim milk instead of water. Use the same amount of milk as the label says to use for water, and if you don't have time for stove top cooking and stirring, pop the bowl in the microwave and cook on HIGH for 1 minute at a time, stirring after each minute until it reaches the consistency you like.

Flavor, flavor, flavor. Oatmeal is so neutral, it can be embellished in a number of ways. You can add your favorite spices -- cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or others. You can add a bit of vanilla too. Nuts also make a deliciously nutritious addition to oatmeal -- just stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons before or after cooking. Fresh and frozen fruits also make flavorful additions. A spoonful of raisins or dried cranberries are great, so are frozen berries, or diced fresh apples, pears, or bananas. While frozen fruit is best added before cooking, the other fruits can be added before or after cooking, whichever you prefer.

But oats aren't just for breakfast. You can use oats in place of bread crumbs when making meatloaf or meatballs to up the fiber content. You can also grind up oats to make oat flour and use it in place of some of the flour in baking.

NOTE: As with any food, the body's response and blood glucose levels vary from person to person. Depending on how your body reacts, you may need to accordingly adjust portion sizes. If you have questions about including oatmeal in your diet, be sure to discuss them If with your physician or certified diabetes educator.

If you receive a new medication be sure to ask your pharmacist or physician about potential food interactions. If they exist, you may have to remove that food item from your diet.


About Heidi McIndoo

Heidi McIndoo, MS is a registered dietitian who has been counseling women, men, and children about healthy eating for twenty years. She firmly believes food should be enjoyed and all foods can fit into a healthy diet -- it's just a matter of how much and how often.

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