Steel Cut Oats Versus Old Fashioned Rolled Oats: Differences in nutritional value and cooking methods
There’s a reason why dietitians talk about oats so much. It’s inexpensive, easy to cook, packed with nutrition, and pairs wonderfully with wholesome fruits, berries, nuts, nut butters, and seeds. Oats are considered a whole grain. It’s minimally processed making it easier to eat while keeping the kernel intact. Therefore, we get to reap the nutritional benefits from the kernel’s outer bran, germ, and inner endosperm. Let’s learn the differences between steel cut and old fashioned oats!
Physical and Textural Differences
In general, oats are harvested, hulled, and roasted. Steel cut oats are oats sliced into little pieces with steel blades. Rolled oats, also called old fashioned oats, are rolled, flattened, and dried into their oval shape. Steel cut oats are chewy and form a creamy bowl of oats while rolled oats are softer in texture.
They have a similar glycemic index (GI), both categorized as a Low GI meaning your blood sugar will not spike quickly after eating it.
Next time you shop for oats, turn the canister around and take a look at the nutrition label. You’ll find only oats listed in the ingredient label (no additives, added sugar, or sodium). One serving size of ¼ cup steel cut oats and ½ cup rolled oats provide the same nutrition: 150 calories, 0 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, and 5 g protein with some iron, potassium, thiamin, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Oats are infamous for its fiber content, but let’s dig in just a bit deeper. Oats are the second best source of beta-glucan fiber next to barley. This fiber is beneficial in making your immune system stronger, lowering cholesterol, and slowing post-meal blood glucose absorption. A fiber-rich diet of oats, other whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds can help reduce the overall risk of diabetes, heart disease, and improve gut health and constipation.
Fiber is prebiotic, meaning it’s food for the bacteria living in your gut. While beneficial, the prebiotic goes through fermentation and can cause gas, bloating, and discomfort, especially if you’re not used to eating oats.
Daily fiber recommendation for women is 25 g and 38 g for men, so getting your day started with oatmeal and eating other fiber food sources throughout the day will help you reach your fiber goals.
Antioxidants are usually associated with fruits, vegetables, and berries, but oats contain them, too! Found on the outer part of the oat are polyphenols called avenanthramides, believed to be anti-inflammatory and antiatherogenic.
Reap the benefits of zinc, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, selenium, iron, and phosphorus. In general, minerals make up 4% of your body weight and contributes as electrolytes, body and fluid regulation, muscle contraction, and nerve health.
In a nutshell, steel cut oats take longer to cook than rolled oats over stovetop. To cook steel cut oats, add ¼ cup dry oats to 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Let it simmer and cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes. For rolled oats, add ½ cup oats into 1 cup of boiling water. Let it simmer and cook covered for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it since it tends to overflow!
Oats can be toasted or blended and used as an additive or flour substitution, which helps boost your fiber intake throughout the day. Use them in oatmeal cookies, granola, as a crumble over desserts, as a coat for proteins, and addition to meatloaf mixture.
Addables for Maximal Nutrition
The polyphenols are more effective in fighting heart disease when paired with vitamin C. Try adding vitamin C sources such as strawberries and kiwi to your oatmeal! Vitamin E is also an antioxidant with heart-healthy benefits, so make it a heartful meal by adding vitamin E-rich peanuts, almonds, and walnuts.
Overall, steel cut and rolled oats provide the same nutrition and health benefits. The major difference is the texture and cooking time, so it comes down to choosing the right oats for you based on your personal preference.
Jane Pelcher, RDN
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist focused on helping everyone love nutrition through cooking! My blogs provide new home cooks with basic cooking skills and grocery shopping tips. Most importantly, I strive to teach the nutrition behind the foods you cook to help you understand how specific foods can better your health and prevent chronic diseases. I hope you embark on this journey with me!