Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Are raw oats better than cooked oats?

Q. My family has squabbled about oats for some time. Some members say that to get the biggest health benefit from oats you need to eat them raw, at room temperature, and moistened with water. Others say they should be cooked. Does cooking take something beneficial out of oats? Can you bring us some peace at breakfast time?

A. Eating a bowl of uncooked oats "moistened with water" doesn't sound all that appetizing. And I am not sure it makes sense from a nutrition perspective. Normal cooking takes little away from oats. In fact, cooking helps release some nutrients that your body can't extract from raw oats.

If you enjoy raw oats moistened with water, by all means eat them that way. But if you prefer cooked oats, made perhaps with part low-fat milk and topped with some chopped strawberries and apple, you aren't sacrificing anything and may, in fact, be gaining something extra.

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