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Rolled Oats or Steel cut oats? Here’s How You Can Choose

Oats are one of the most common breakfast foods across the world. There is nothing more calming than a bowl of warm vanilla cinnamon oatmeal to cosy up to each morning. Harvested from the Avena Sativa cereal plant in the Poaceae grass family of crops, Oats are cereal grains that are well-prized for their high nutritional content and ease of cooking. Once harvested, they are milled, steamed, heated and cooled in kilns to extract the flavours. At JIWA, we source authentic Australian oat groats which are further processed to the different varieties like rolled, steel cut or flakes, and more.
Apart from breakfast bowls, Oats are common in animal food, and even skincare products.
Oats are rich in fibre, protein, and low-fat carbohydrates. This makes them a common choice for those looking for weight management and hunger-controlling foods.

Kinds of Oats

This Fibre storehouse comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, and you could often find yourself confused at the grocery store about which one to pick. From steel-cut to rolled oats to instant oats or even Oatmeal or Oats flour, each has a similar nutrition profile and varied uses.
Most of all the Oats start out as groats, which are just Oat kernels without the tough outer shell called the hull.

Different kinds of Oats find a variety of use in everyday meals.While rolled oats make for a great dessert topping, oats flour is ideal for gluten-free baking, and oatmeal could be used as a thickener for soup and casseroles.

The most common varieties in use are Rolled Oats, Instant oats, Oats flour and steel-cut oats.
  1. Steel Cut Oats

    These are typically cut using steel cutters (hence the name), from whole oat groats. Also called Scottish Oats, these look like coarse Oatmeal and are basically 2-3 pieces cut from whole Oats, looking like bits of rice.

    The larger the size of oats, the longer they take to cook, so this variety typically takes the longest, and they are also least processed out of all Oat varieties. This makes them nutrition dense than the other varieties.
    Steel cut oats have a chewy mouthfeel and can be used in traditional Oatmeal, or in stews as well. They make for great stuffings for meatloaves and other bakes as they absorb less moisture, so from baking to stovetop cooking, these are great if you want a mouthful of oats nutrition. You can buy steel cut oats online easily with a lot of options to choose from, but natural Australian ones are the best choice.

  2. Rolled oats

    A common confusion is: are steel cut oats the same as rolled oats?

    Slightly more processed than the steel cut variety, rolled oats are quicker to cook, and smoother too. Steel cut oats are moistened with steam and then rolled between heavy rollers to make flat flakes of oats, hence the name!|

    Rolled oats find versatile usage in cookies, muffins, smoothies, and are also great for giving a crunchy crust to fresh breads, flapjacks or granola.Buy rolled oats online or from supermarkets to make your breakfasts crunchy, munchy and healthy.

  3. Instant oats

    Oat groats are cooked, dried, cut, and rolled really thin to make this fastest cooking variety. Instant oats are usually mushy, and so have a select audience. They absorb water really well, and cook almost instantly when warm water or milk is added to them, probably why they are called instant or quick oats!

    These are available as is, or even as flavoured oats with vanilla, or other sweet flavourings to make breakfast porridge seem like cakewalk. Are quick oats healthy then? The answer is in the label- pick ones which have no added sugars, and you are good to go.

  4. Oats Flour
    Most processed form of oats, Oats Flour is made by grinding and passing the oats through a fine sieve multiple times. A nutty and nutritious variety, this gluten-free flour can be used for baking, or even for making Indian Halwa with jaggery or sugar.

Nutritional Profile & Benefits of Steel Cut Oats and Rolled Oats

Oats are nutrition packed whole grains and provide a wholesome goodness to every meal. Their high fibre content helps reduce the risk of several diseases like some forms of cancer, coronary heart issues and others.

Increasing the fibre content in your daily meals by as low as 10gms can result in a direct 10% reduction in your chances of getting colorectal cancer.

Including wholegrains like oats in your meals in good quantities can even help replace hypertension medication by managing blood pressure levels. This is connected with the avenanthramides and other antioxidants present in each serving of oats.

According to a Cambridge University Study, Oats are really helpful in keeping the feeling of satiety for longer. Which means that on consuming food made with Oats, you are likely to feel fuller for longer, and hunger pangs are kept at bay. The fibre content of oats help in smooth functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and thus prevent constipation too.

This is directly linked to cardiovascular, metabolic and digestive health. The resultant health benefits are reduced risks of chronic diseases and obesity.

And for all those who believe in the beauty regimes with homemade “nuskhe”, Oats are your skin's best friend for anti-inflammation and reducing itching. So go ahead and make some skin food with good ol’ instant oats.

The Nutrition from Oats is a wide subject in itself, but these nutrients top the list:

  1. Vitamin B & E- Present in oats in the form of Thiamin, Riboflavin, and Niacin, this vitamin helps release the energy from carbohydrates. Vitamin B6 helps in metabolising proteins and in the smooth functioning of the nervous system. It is also needed to produce Haemoglobin, which carries oxygen to different parts of the body.
    So from a healthy Nervous system to great skin and eyes, Oats take care of all of this and more.

  2. Fibre- Mainly a natural ‘broom’ for the body, fibre helps in maintaining good digestive system health. Oats are a rich source of fibre, regardless of the variety you choose.

  3. Carbohydrate- Oats contain soluble carbohydrates that can easily be converted into glucose to provide energy to the body.

  4. Protein- These body building & repair nutrients are present in plenty in Oats of all kinds, and are imperative for proper growth of the body and repair of tissues and muscles. They are responsible for all the vital structure repair in the human body.

  5. Fat- Often misconstrued, fats are a great source of energy for the body if taken moderately. They help to store the fat soluble vitamins and transport them to various parts of the body.

  6. Sodium, Calcium & other minerals- From building strong bones and teeth, to transmit nerve impulses, minerals are essential for the proper functioning of the body. Oats carry a good amount of these minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, zinc etc.

  7. Iron and folic acid-Oats have oxygen-rich vitamins and minerals that prevent neural tube defects in early pregnancy. They also help carry oxygen across the body.

Steel cut oats vs rolled oats- How to Choose?

While every variety of Oats is great for a nutrition packed diet, the benefits of each may vary, depending on how it is processed. Let’s simplify the Steel cut or rolled oats dilemma based on three different parameters.


Each variety of Oats carries roughly the same amount of nutrition. Steel cut oats are less processed than the rolled variety, so they are more packed with nutrients, but the difference is very slight. The extra pressing largely affects the texture of the oatmeal cooking, but not so much the nutrition.

Health benefits

Fibre- Steel cut oats are less processed and so have more fibre than the instant oats variety, even though by a small percentage. This fibre is great to regulate good bowel movement and encourage perfect digestion.

Glycemic Index- Steel cut oats are slowly absorbed and digested by the body than rolled or instant oats and thus have a lower glycemic index. The resultant benefit is a better control over blood sugar levels. Instant oats are often processed with added sweeteners so are best avoided for people looking for low sugar alternatives.

Cooking and Usage

This is one of the categoric differentiating points in the choice of oats. Comparing rolled oats versus steel cut oats, if you like a chewier mouthfeel- steel cut oats are for you, but if mushy is your go to mouthfeel- pick the instant oats. If the non chewy, non slimy, but a firmer mouth-full is what you like- grab a jar of rolled oats and cook away.

For the days when you need to run to work, instant or rolled oats come to the rescue, but for a great risotto- nothing is better than the steel cut oats.

Want to thicken a soup or stew? Choose Instant oats. But if you want a great texture on baked goods, or a streusel topping- Rolled oats are your best bud. Steel cut oats are the most coarse and unprocessed, and so they require the maximum time to cook. If the wait time is too much for you, but you still want the texture- prior soaking, or a slow cooker can be used to counter the cooking time too.

Take your pick

Are steel cut oats healthier? Well, whether you opt for rolled oats or steel cut, they are good news for your system anyway. The high fibre which is also water double is the prized companion with oats and loads your gut with all things good. It keeps you fuller for longer, and so regulates your metabolic cycle with ease.
The additional benefits like improved insulin sensitivity, reduced bad cholesterol and blood pressure, & great skin are just the icing on the cake.

You can buy oats online with ease these days, whichever variety you prefer. Each variety of Oats is naturally Gluten-free, but they could be processed in places that also process wheat and barley products. So it is important to have a trusted manufacturing source like JIWA that can provide you with the best pure Oats that are truly gluten-free.

Bottom line- There is no big difference in nutrition and benefits from each variety of Oats. So, the best way to choose which is better, steel cut or rolled oats, depends on your lifestyle. The baseline is to include oats in your everyday meals, whichever form you choose.

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