Ask a Dietitian: Why Is Everyone Hating on Oatmeal?

Hi Jess, lately I‘ve noticed videos on social media with conflicting information about oats. I wonder if I should reconsider my go-to breakfast of oatmeal. What’s your take on this?

Thanks to a recent TikTok trend, oatmeal is in the spotlight again, but not in the way I expected it to be. Rather than being celebrated as a breakfast hero, the recent narrative questions oatmeal's status as the heart healthy breakfast choice.

Let’s set the record straight quickly; oats are not the enemy here. It’s always disheartening to see long-standing dietary favorites being labeled as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, especially when they’ve been part of our diets for so long.

So what’s all the fuss about?

Most of the uproar is around how oats might contribute to blood glucose spikes. Remember that a temporary rise in blood sugar after meals is an entirely normal physiological response. I appreciate that some individuals – such as those with diabetes – need to keep an eye out. But for the general population worrying over this seems to be doing more harm than good. Let’s highlight a few of the top benefits of oats.

Top benefits of oats

Heart health

Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber. This plays a crucial role in reducing LDL cholesterol levels, also known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol as this can build up in your arteries. Less LDL cholesterol can therefore lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Sustained energy

Oatmeal is a valuable source of complex carbohydrates, which means it takes slower to digest and releases glucose slowly into the bloodstream. This helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and provides a steady source of energy throughout the morning.

Digestive health

Oats are packed with fiber, supporting healthy digestion and promoting regular bowel movements (therefore helping prevent constipation). Beta-glucan acts as a prebiotic, feeding the ‘good’ bacteria in our gut, and nourishing a healthy microbiome.

Beneficial nutrients

Oats contain a whole bunch of nutrients including fiber, vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus. Not only that, oats are a notable source of plant-based protein, an excellent option for anyone looking to increase their intake.

How to upgrade your oatmeal

To slow the release of sugar spikes, it’s beneficial to pair your oats with protein and fats too. Here are some top upgrades to your oats:

  • Top with fresh fruit such as bananas, or even stewed fruit like apples.
  • Add nuts, such as almonds, or a drizzle of peanut butter.
  • Sprinkle seeds. Chia and pumpkin seeds work great.
  • Add a handful of cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips.
  • Make with cacao powder or cinnamon.


Navigating the sea of conflicting advice on social media can leave people seriously confused. Oatmeal isn’t ‘bad’ for you. It offers a whole variety of benefits, including supporting heart and digestive health and providing essential nutrients.

Keep in mind that one-size-fits-all nutrition advice isn’t effective. We should approach recommendations from social media ‘influencers’, who may not be accredited nutritionists with caution. Ultimately, we are all individuals. If oatmeal works for you as a great start to your day (as it does for me) there’s no need to cut it out of your diet.

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