Smoothies have become an increasingly popular way to get a nutritious breakfast or snack on the go. Many health-conscious people blend up fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other ingredients into thick, cold smoothies. But one ingredient that often gets overlooked to blend into smoothies is oats.
Oats contain important nutrients like fiber, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin B1. Adding oats to smoothies is an easy way to make your smoothie more nutritious and filling. But is it actually good to put oats in smoothies? Let’s take a closer look at the potential benefits and downsides.
Benefits of Adding Oats to Smoothies
Here are some of the top benefits of putting oats in your smoothies:
1. Increases Fiber
One of the best reasons to add oats to smoothies is to increase the fiber content. Oats contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber forms a gel-like consistency when mixed with liquid. It helps slow digestion and make you feel full for longer after drinking a smoothie. Soluble fiber may also help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and helps food pass more quickly through the digestive system. This type of fiber is important for regular bowel movements and preventing constipation.
Just 1/4 cup of dry oats contains 4 grams of fiber, bumping up the fiber content of your smoothies.
2. Provides Protein
Oats also contain high-quality protein to help build muscle, bones, skin, hair, and blood. Protein powders are commonly added to smoothies, but oats can provide protein without adding artificial or overly processed ingredients.
1/4 cup of dry oats contains 5 grams of protein.
3. Helps You Feel Fuller for Longer
The combination of fiber and protein in oats means they can help you feel satiated after drinking a smoothie. This may prevent mid-morning cravings and overeating later in the day.
One study found that eating oats increased fullness and reduced hunger more than ready-to-eat breakfast cereal or an oat-based granola bar.
4. Adds Nutrients Like Thiamin, Magnesium, and Phosphorus
Along with fiber and protein, oats supply other important vitamins and minerals:
- Thiamin: Supports metabolism and converts food into energy.
- Magnesium: Needed for muscle, nerve, and heart health.
- Phosphorus: Helps build strong bones and teeth.
Sprinkling just 1/4 cup of oats into your smoothies is a simple way to increase the nutritional value.
5. Gluten-Free Oats Are Available
For those who need to avoid gluten, choosing certified gluten-free oats is an option. Gluten-free oats are a safe way for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to enjoy oats.
Make sure to thoroughly read labels and only purchase oats that are certified gluten-free to avoid cross-contamination with gluten sources.
Potential Downsides of Adding Oats to Smoothies
Although there are many advantages, there are also some potential downsides to keep in mind when adding oats to smoothies:
1. Can Create Thicker, Grainier Texture
Depending on your preferences, oats may create a thicker, grainier texture than you’re used to with regular smoothies. Some people don’t mind this texture, while others prefer smoother smoothies.
Blending the oats first before adding other ingredients can help reduce the grainy texture. Soaking the oats overnight before blending also softens them up.
2. Higher in Carbs Than Some Low-Carb Diets Allow
If you are following a very low-carb, ketogenic, or diabetic diet plan, the extra carbs from oats may exceed your allowed amounts.
1/4 cup of dry oats contains about 27 grams of total carbohydrates.
Modifying the portion size or using low-carb substitute ingredients can help keep the carb count lower.
3. Loose Oats Can Separate and Sink in Smoothies
When you add regular loose oats to liquid, they tend to sink to the bottom and separate out. This means you’ll have to stir the smoothie well before drinking to redistribute the oats.
Grinding the oats to a flour first or using steel-cut oats instead can help them integrate more smoothly.
4. Provides Less Volume Than Leafy Greens or Ice
While oats add nutritional value, they don’t add as much thick volume as leafy greens or ice would. So you may still need to use those ingredients in addition to oats to create a full, thick smoothie.
5. Raw Oats May Be Hard for Some to Digest
Raw oats contain compounds called phytates and enzyme inhibitors. For some people, these may make oats harder to digest properly.
Soaking, sprouting, or cooking the oats first can help reduce these antinutrients and make the oats easier to digest.
Best Types of Oats to Use in Smoothies
Choosing the right type of oats can make your oatmeal smoothies turn out great. Here are some of the best options:
Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
Rolled oats have been flattened and steamed to speed up cooking time. Their soft texture integrates easily into smoothies without too much graininess.
Steel-cut oats contain the whole oat groat cut into smaller pieces. This gives a pleasantly chewy texture. Since they’re less processed than rolled oats, they retain more nutrition.
Grinding oats into a fine flour gives a smooth consistency without the problem of loose oats sinking. Make sure to use gluten-free oats if needed.
Using oat milk instead of regular dairy or non-dairy milk adds oat goodness without altering the texture. Look for unsweetened versions to avoid extra sugar.
Best Ways to Use and Prepare Oats in Smoothies
Here are some tips for using oats in smoothies successfully:
Grind First For Smooth Texture
Dry oats can be ground into a flour ahead of time in a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder. This helps them integrate seamlessly into the smoothie.
Soak Overnight to Soften
Soaking oats in water overnight softens them up for better blending. The water keeps them from absorbing too much liquid from the smoothie as well.
Cook With Milk or Water First
Quickly cooking the oats in milk or water beforehand improves their digestibility and reduces antinutrients. Let cool before adding to other smoothie ingredients.
Use Oat Milk as the Base
Using oat milk instead of regular milk or water automatically adds oat content without compromising texture.
Play With Different Portions
Start with 1/4 cup oats for one smoothie serving and adjust as needed for your preferred consistency and nutrition goals.
Blend Oats With Liquid Before Adding Other Ingredients
Layering techniques matter! Blend oats and liquid together first before adding fresh fruits, greens, nuts, seeds, etc. This evenly distributes the oats.
Tasty Oatmeal Smoothie Recipes
Ready to start blending up some oatmeal smoothies? Here are some nutritious and delicious recipe ideas:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie
– 1 banana
– 1/4 cup oats
– 2 tbsp peanut butter
– 1 tbsp cocoa powder
– 1 scoop plant-based vanilla protein powder
– 1 cup milk of choice
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Smoothie
– 1/4 cup oats
– 1/2 banana
– 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
– 1/4 tsp cinnamon
– 1/8 tsp nutmeg
– 1 cup milk of choice
Green Tropical Oatmeal Smoothie
– 1 cup spinach
– 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
– 1/4 cup oats
– 1/2 banana
– 1/4 cup coconut water
Berry Almond Oatmeal Smoothie
– 1/4 cup oats
– 1/2 cup mixed berries
– 2 tbsp almond butter
– 1 tbsp flaxseed
– 1 cup almond milk
Frequently Asked Questions
Do oats belong in smoothies?
Yes, oats can make great nutritious additions to smoothies. They add important fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Just keep in mind they create a thicker texture. Soaking or grinding the oats first helps them blend more smoothly.
Are raw oats safe to eat?
Raw oats contain antinutrients like phytic acid that may hinder digestion, especially in sensitive individuals. Cooking, soaking, sprouting, or fermenting oats can reduce these antinutrients. Most people tolerate raw oats in smoothies well, but cook them if you experience digestive upset.
Should you soak oats before adding to smoothies?
Soaking oats beforehand is optional but helps soften them up. Soaked oats blend more smoothly and don’t absorb as much liquid from the smoothie. Soak in water overnight, then drain excess water before adding them to your smoothie.
Do you blend oats first or last for smoothies?
Blend oats and liquid together first before adding other smoothie ingredients. This helps the oats fully integrate and emulsify into the liquid for a smooth texture. Then add any fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.
Can I use instant oats for smoothies?
It’s best to avoid instant oats when making smoothies. Instant oats are more processed and often contain added sugars. Old-fashioned rolled oats or steel-cut oats make much healthier choices.
The Bottom Line
Adding oats to your smoothies is a great way to increase the nutritional value. Oats add important fiber, plant-based protein, minerals like magnesium and phosphorus, and B vitamins. Just be aware the texture gets thicker and grainier with oats added.
Soaking or grinding the oats first helps them blend more smoothly. Play around with different oat types and portions to find your perfect smoothie recipe. Just don’t overdo the added oats if you’re following a low-carb meal plan.
Enjoy experimenting with creative oatmeal smoothie combinations to start your day with a boost of extra nutrition!