Can I put raw oats in smoothie?

Smoothies have become an increasingly popular way to get a nutritious breakfast or snack on-the-go. Blending fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other ingredients into a cold, refreshing drink is an easy way to pack in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients.

Oats are a classic smoothie add-in, providing fiber, protein, and other benefits. However, most recipes call for using cooked oatmeal or soaked, blended oats rather than raw oats. So, can you put raw oats in a smoothie? Let’s take a look at the pros, cons, and alternatives for adding raw oats to smoothies.

Pros of Putting Raw Oats in Smoothies

There are some potential benefits to using raw oats in smoothies:

  • Convenience – No need to cook or soak oats ahead of time. You can just measure them straight into the blender.
  • Nutrition – Raw oats provide fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and antioxidant plant compounds like avenanthramides.
  • Texture – Raw oats can make smoothies thicker and creamier. They add more body than cooked oatmeal.
  • Flavor – Raw oats have a mild, nutty flavor that can complement fruits, nuts, seeds, and other smoothie ingredients.

Overall, raw oats can be a quick, nutrient-packed addition to smoothies, while also improving the texture.

Cons of Putting Raw Oats in Smoothies

However, there are also some downsides to blending up raw oats:

  • Grainy texture – Raw oats tend to retain more of their grainy texture, which some people find unpleasant in smoothies.
  • Digestibility – Raw oats contain phytic acid and plant proteins that may be tougher to digest compared to cooked oatmeal. This could potentially lead to gas or bloating.
  • Flavor impact – Raw oats have a more prominent flavor that comes through in smoothies. The strong oat taste may overpower more delicate ingredients.
  • Food safety – There is a very small risk of raw oats containing harmful bacteria, such as salmonella. Heating oats first kills any bacteria present.

So while raw oats come with some perks, they also change the mouthfeel, flavor, and potentially digestibility of smoothies compared to cooked oats.

Best Practices for Using Raw Oats

If you want to add raw oats to your smoothies, here are some tips:

  • Use thick, steel-cut oats or large rolled oats rather than fine, quick oats. The larger pieces will blend better and result in less graininess.
  • Limit raw oats to no more than 1/4 to 1/2 cup per smoothie. Too much can make smoothies gluey and oat-tasting.
  • Blend on high speed for at least 1 minute to break down the oats as much as possible.
  • Consider soaking the raw oats in milk or juice for 15-30 minutes before blending to soften them up.
  • Mask any strong oat flavor by pairing raw oats with bananas, cocoa powder, peanut butter, cinnamon, coffee, or vanilla.
  • Stick to trusted oat sources and check expiration dates to minimize any unlikely foodborne illness risks.

Following these tips will help minimize drawbacks and make raw oats work better in smoothies.

Alternatives to Raw Oats in Smoothies

If you find the texture or taste of raw oats unappealing, what are some alternatives? Here are a few options:

  • Rolled oats – Regular rolled oats work better than raw if you soak them first for 10-20 minutes. The oats soften but still provide thickness.
  • Steel-cut oats – Like raw oats, steel-cut oats retain more texture. Soak them before blending to soften.
  • Cook oatmeal – Making a batch of oatmeal with milk and then blending it while hot results in extra creamy smoothies.
  • Oat flour – Grinding rolled oats into a fine flour gives you oat nutrients without the grainy texture.
  • Oat bran – The fiber-rich outer casing of the oat is another smooth-blending option.
  • Overnight oats – Letting oats soak overnight allows time to soften fully before blending.

Substituting raw oats with one of these cooked oat products or using a preparation method to soften oats can ensure a smoother mouthfeel.

Nutrition Information

Here is how raw oats compare nutritionally to some common oat-based smoothie add-ins:

Oat Type Fiber (grams) Protein (grams) Fat (grams) Calories
Raw oats (1/4 cup) 2 3 1.5 74
Rolled oats (1/4 cup) 2 3 1.5 74
Steel-cut oats (1/4 cup) 2 3 1.5 77
Oat bran (1/4 cup) 3 3 1 56
Oat flour (1/4 cup) 2 3 1 95

As you can see, raw oats are nutritionally similar to other oat products. Soaking or cooking them may make their nutrients more bioavailable but likely won’t significantly alter the fiber and protein content.

Potential Health Benefits

Here are some of the top health benefits associated with adding oats to smoothies:

  • Lower cholesterol – Oats contain beta-glucan soluble fiber that can reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol levels.
  • Stable blood sugar – The fiber and protein in oats helps slow glucose absorption and prevent spikes and crashes.
  • Reduced hypertension – Avenanthramides in oats demonstrate anti-inflammatory effects that may improve vascular function.
  • Increased satiety – Oats are very filling. Drinking oat-based smoothies can suppress appetite and reduce calorie intake.
  • Relief from constipation – The insoluble fiber in oats adds bulk to stool and can reduce constipation.
  • Weight management – Oats can aid weight loss and maintenance thanks to their effect on satiety, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

The portion of these benefits derived specifically from raw versus cooked oats is unclear. But oats in general are a healthy smoothing ingredient.

Potential Digestive Issues

Raw oats do come with some potential downsides related to digestion. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Bloating and gas – The high fiber and complex carbohydrates in raw oats may cause abdominal discomfort if not tolerated well.
  • Constipation – While they can relieve constipation in some cases, raw oats may worsen it if inadequate fluid is consumed.
  • Blocked intestines – In very rare cases, thick oat pieces could theoretically obstruct narrow intestinal openings.
  • Nutrient absorption – The phytic acid in raw oats binds to minerals and inhibits full vitamin and mineral absorption.
  • Digestive enzymes – Raw oats contain enzyme inhibitors that deactivate digestive enzymes needed to break down proteins and carbs.

Properly preparing and chewing raw oats, as well as drinking smoothies slowly, can minimize digestive discomfort. Talk to your doctor if oats consistently cause GI issues.

Risk of Foodborne Illness

There is a theoretical risk of foodborne illness from eating raw oats contaminated with harmful bacteria. However, the actual danger is extremely small. Here’s why raw oats are still generally safe:

  • Oats are not a high-risk grain for bacterial contamination during growth and harvest.
  • Suppliers follow food safety protocols to test for pathogens and prevent cross-contamination.
  • Bacteria cannot easily thrive on dry oats due to the low moisture content.
  • Stomach acid kills most bacteria that could be inadvertently consumed.
  • There have been very few reported outbreaks caused specifically by raw oats.

Purchasing oats from reputable suppliers, inspecting for freshness, and storing properly minimizes any already low risks. Sick, elderly, pregnant, and immune-compromised individuals should remain especially cautious with raw oat intake.


Overall, adding raw oats to your smoothies once in a while is unlikely to pose health risks and can provide texture and nutrition benefits. However, raw oats may change the mouthfeel and flavor compared to cooked oats. Soaking raw oats before blending, limiting portions, and pairing with strongly flavored ingredients can help mask drawbacks.

For the smoothest, creamiest oat smoothies, cooking oats first or substituting with oat flour or oat bran may be preferable. But raw oats can be an occasional quick and convenient alternative. As with any new food, pay attention to how your body reacts and scale back raw oat quantities if they cause digestive discomfort.

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