Porridge is a hot cereal similar to oatmeal. While oatmeal often consists of crushed, rolled, cut or coarsely ground oats, porridge consists of any type of crushed grain, including oats, wheat, rice or barley. Eating porridge on a regular basis can offer numerous health benefits.
Oats were a staple food of the Irish throughout our history. Vast quantities of oatmeal were consumed in the form of porridge. With the introduction of the potato in the late sixteenth century, the prevalence of oatmeal porridge declined.
During the 20th century porridge became an increasingly popular dish on the Irish breakfast menu. Fast forward into the 21st century and Oatmeal in the form of porridge has regained its well-deserved title as a nourishing and healthy breakfast. It can even be found on restaurant menus as a gourmet breakfast option; described as homemade creamy porridge with cinnamon, fresh berries and honey, or as creamy hot oats with a generous splash of Irish whiskey. Either way, what we’ve known for many years is that porridge is simply delicious and can offer a different breakfast every morning depending on what toppings you add.
So… Why Are Oats So Good for You?
Oats are high in energy, but low in fat, so they are one of the best ways to start the day. An average bowl of porridge made with water is only 171 calories.
Prolonged Energy Release
Oats have a high content of complex carbohydrates and soluble fibre, which means they release their energy slowly, so after a bowl of porridge, you should find no need to snack between meals.
Oatmeal and porridge oats are two of the few wholegrain foods that come out of the package as 100 percent whole grain.
‘Wholegrain’ refers to the entire edible part of the grain, which includes the germ, endosperm and nutrient- rich bran. Refined grains are lower in fibre and other nutrients because the bran and germ are typically removed.
Oats are a low-GI food. The lower the GI rating, the better the food is for blood sugar levels. Unlike sugary breakfast cereals, porridge doesn’t send blood sugar levels soaring, only to come crashing down an hour later. This is particularly important for people with diabetes.
Instead, foods with a low GI index, like porridge and oatmeal, help the body to keep energy levels steady, and keep the hunger pangs at bay for much longer. As such, low GI foods are great for weight loss, as they keep you feeling fuller for longer, so you’ll want to eat less.
Oats and Cholesterol
Oats can help to lower cholesterol, and may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, when taken as part of a low fat diet.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by the liver and other cells in the body, which is used to break down and digest fat. Cholesterol also comes from dairy products, beef, poultry and seafood. When the body has more cholesterol than it needs, cholesterol levels in the blood can rise, and over time, may damage or clog the arteries.
Oats act like tiny sponges, actually soaking up cholesterol and carrying it out of the bloodstream.
Oats are high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals including calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, thiamine and vitamins B1 and E.
Oats contain more soluble fibre than any other grain. Soluble Fibre is essential for healthy digestion, helping both to maintain a healthy bowel function.
Oats contain folic acid, which is essential for healthy foetal development.