pregnant mother

Eating Oats During Pregnancy: Is it Safe or Harmful?

Meet Priya, a soon-to-be mom who loves her morning breakfast. She’s having nausea and tiredness from being in her 3rd trimester and she is looking for easy breakfast options that can cook quickly! She’s been wondering if oats are a good choice during her pregnancy. She heard that oats are a great breakfast option, but then she saw on Google that oats are processed. Priya wants to know if she should eat oats and if there’s a specific type she should choose.

To help Priya and other expecting moms, we spoke to Aastha Grover, a lactation consultant and nutritionist with over five years of experience. Here’s what she shared about the role of eating oats during pregnancy.

What Are Oats? 

Oats are a type of cereal grain from the plant Avena sativa. They are a nutritious whole grain food known for their versatility and health benefits. Here are some important points about oats:

  1. Nutritional Profile : Oats are packed with carbohydrates, especially dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble) that aids digestion and keeps you full. They also have protein, fat, vitamins (like B vitamins), minerals (such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc), and antioxidants.

  2. Types of Oats :

    • Whole Oats : These include oat groats, the whole, unbroken grains.

    • Steel-Cut Oats : Oat groats cut into pieces using steel blades.

    • Rolled Oats : Also known as old-fashioned oats, these are steamed and rolled into flakes.

    • Instant Oats : Pre-cooked and dried rolled oats, quick and easy to prepare.

  3. Versatility : Oats can be enjoyed in many ways, such as:

    • Cooked as oatmeal or porridge for a warm breakfast.

    • Added to smoothies.

    • Used as a topping for yogurt, salads, or fruit.

    • Ground into flour for pancakes or as a thickener for soups and curry.

type of oats

Benefits of Eating Oats During Pregnancy.

Eating oats during pregnancy offers several benefits:

  1. Nutrient Density : Oats are full of essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins (B vitamins, vitamin E), minerals (iron, magnesium, zinc), and antioxidants. These nutrients are important for both mom and baby.

  2. Digestive Health : The soluble fiber in oats helps with digestion and prevents constipation, a common issue during pregnancy. According to a study published in the "Journal of Nutrition," dietary fiber from oats can significantly improve digestive health .

  3. Blood Sugar Regulation : Soluble fiber helps keep blood sugar levels steady, reducing the risk of gestational diabetes. Research in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" shows that the beta-glucan in oats helps regulate blood sugar levels .

  4. Heart Health : Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that can lower cholesterol levels, supporting heart health for both mom and baby. Studies have shown that consuming oats can lead to a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels, thus promoting cardiovascular health .

  5. Weight Management : Oats are filling and can help moms-to-be feel satisfied longer, aiding in weight management. The "British Journal of Nutrition" found that oats help control appetite and manage weight effectively during pregnancy .

  6. Morning Sickness Relief : Oats are bland and easy to digest, making them a good option for those experiencing morning sickness or nausea.

  7. Energy Boost : The complex carbohydrates in oats provide a steady energy release, helping moms stay energized throughout the day. The "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" highlights that oats provide a slow and sustained energy release, crucial for maintaining energy levels during pregnancy .

  8. Immune Support : Oats have antioxidants like vitamin E and selenium that support the immune system, protecting against infections and illnesses.

  9. Bone Health : Oats are a good source of calcium, essential for the baby's bone and teeth development and the mother's bone health.

  10. Reduces Blood Pressure: Oats are high in antioxidants and polyphenols which may help in reducing the blood pressure. This is very beneficial in pregnancy when mothers have upto 50% more blood pumping in their body. 

     

Which type of oats are best to eat in pregnancy?

Rolled and steel cut oats are the best to eat in pregnancy as they are high in fiber, antioxidants and low in glycemic index. They however take longer to cook! Stay away from any type of instant oats, packaged or flavoured oats as they are low on nutritional value and high in salt. 


How to prepare oats when you are pregnant?

Here are some easy and tasty ways Priya and other moms-to-be can include oats in their daily meals, with an Indian twist:

  • Oats Idli : Mix oats flour with semolina, yogurt, and a bit of water to make a batter. Steam this batter to make soft, fluffy idlis.

  • Oats Upma : Roast oats and cook them with vegetables, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and spices for a nutritious and tasty upma.

  • Oats Khichdi : Combine oats with lentils and vegetables to make a hearty and wholesome khichdi.

  • Oats Chilla : Prepare a batter with oats flour, besan (gram flour), chopped vegetables, and spices. Cook on a tawa to make delicious chillas.

  • Oats Ladoo : Mix roasted oats with jaggery, nuts, and ghee to make healthy and energy-boosting ladoos.

  • Oats and Vegetable Soup : Add oats to your favorite vegetable soup as a thickener and nutrient booster.


oats recipes for pregnancy

In Conclusion:

Incorporating oats into a balanced diet during pregnancy can contribute to maternal health, fetal development, and overall well-being. Oats are considered safe in pregnancy unless you have a gluten allergy. However, it's always best to consult with your OBGYN or a dietitian for personalized dietary advice during pregnancy.


How do you include oats in your diet? Do you have any favorite oats recipes? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below! 


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