Oats - what's the difference?

Updated: Oct 18, 2020



Nutritionally speaking, all types of oats are great because of their particular type of fiber (water-soluble fiber), which leads to a nice feeling of fullness, can help with the regulation of blood sugar, and lowers the harmful LDL cholesterol – reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

In addition to all of these great benefits, when oat fiber reaches the large intestine, it is metabolized by the good bacteria that live there, who then decrease inflammation and promote good gastrointestinal health. All in all, oats are one of nature’s most perfect foods.

Steel cut oats are particularly great because they are only very minimally processed. To get steel cut oats, the oat kernel (called a groat) is cut into two or three pieces with a sharp blade. They are not steamed and rolled, like old fashioned (regular) oats. They take longer to digest and absorb than regular (old fashioned), quick, or instant oats. That is a good thing: the longer they hang around in our intestines, the more good they can do.

Steel cuts oats also have a lower glycemic index than rolled oats. Glycemic index refers to how much a food raises your blood sugar. Eating lower glycemic index foods not only manage your blood sugar, but also help stave off hunger pangs.

Some people (like I used to) stay away from steel cut oats because they take more time to cook than old fashioned rolled/instant oats.


Now that I have an instant pot (4 minutes to make perfectly cooked steel cut oats!), I eat them more often. I love adding nuts, seeds, and berries to make sure I get a good dose of my anti-inflammatory Omega 3s, along with slow-release proteins. This breakfast keeps me full for many many hours!

If you do not have an instant pot, and do not have time for the 30-minute cooking time in the morning, you can try making “Overnight Steel Cut Oats” – you prepare them the night before and eat them the next day without even needing to cook them (what??).

There are many recipes online for these, so be sure to check some out.


I alternate between steel cut oats and my go-to protein shake (see earlier post on this) for my weekday breakfasts!