October 01, 2015

Are steel-cut oats better than rolled oats?

Q: Are steel-cut oats healthier than rolled oats?

A: In terms of nutrition, steel-cut and rolled oats are pretty much the same. Both are whole grains, which are good for your heart and overall health. Both are low in fat, cholesterol-free and good sources of fiber. Equal-size serving weights of steel-cut and rolled oats have identical calories and protein.

Steel-cut and rolled oats are both derived from raw oat kernels (groats). Their biggest difference is in the way they're processed afterward.

Steel-cut oats are cut into smaller pieces with a sharp blade. You might also see these labeled as Irish oatmeal. Scottish oatmeal, on the other hand, is traditionally stone-ground, resulting in bits and pieces of various sizes.

Both steel-cut and stone-ground oats take longer to cook than do rolled oats — about 20 to 30 minutes — and result in a chewier texture. They may also take a bit longer to digest, which may make you feel a bit fuller than a similar portion of rolled oats.

Steel-cut oats and rolled oats

Steel-cut oats, top, are cut into smaller pieces. Rolled oats, bottom, have been steamed and rolled into thin flakes.

 

Rolled oats — regular or old-fashioned — are oat groats that have been steamed and then rolled into thin flakes. This process gives the oats a longer shelf life and quicker cooking time — around five minutes. Quick or instant rolled oats have been steamed longer or rolled into even...