Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Feb 17, 2010 04:29 PM

Quick vs Old Fashioned Oats

The recent "calories in oats" thread got me thinking- why is it that people say that old fashioned oats and steel cut oats are better for you than quick oats? According to Quaker, old-fashioned and quick oats both have 4 g of fiber in a 1/2 c serving. Is there some other indicator I'm missing? Much as I know I'll be scorned for saying this, I prefer the texture of quick oats- it seems comforting to me. But I wonder- am I missing out on the health benefits of steel cut or old fashioned oats without realizing it?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. No, according to this nutritionist's perspective (Andrew Bellatti)--it's all about the additives:

    You Oat To Know
    One of my co-workers recently asked me what the difference was — from a nutritional standpoint — between steel-cut oats, quick-cooking oats, and instant oatmeal.

    There isn’t any!

    They are all a nutritious whole grain offering soluble fiber (the kind that has been linked to a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol levels).

    (Quick review: insoluble fiber — found entirely in whole wheat products and partially in fruits, vegetables, and legumes — speeds up the transit of foods in the digestive system.)

    The difference between these varieties of oats and oatmeal ultimately comes down to processing techniques.

    Whereas steel-cut oats are — ready for a shocker? — cut by rotating steel blades into tiny groats, instant oatmeal is flattened into flakes.

    If you look at their respective nutrition labels, you’ll notice that steel-cut oats appear to contain more fiber than their quick cooking counterparts.

    However, this is simply due to different serving sizes.

    It’s akin to a one-ounce slice of whole wheat bread containing 3 grams of fiber and a 1.5 ounce slice providing 4.5 grams. The larger slice may appear to be a “better source” of fiber, but ounce by ounce the two are equal.

    What you absolutely must keep in mind when buying instant oatmeal is what has been added.

    You can’t go wrong by buying plain (unsweetened, no salt added) oatmeal and jazzing it up yourself with fruits, nuts, seeds, yogurt, etc.

    The problems begin when you buy flavored varieties than add sodium and up to 4 or 5 teaspoons of sugar (and about 100 extra calories) to this delicious whole grain.

    Instant oatmeal is one of my recommended pantry staples, mainly due to its quick preparation time.

    I also recommend adding uncooked instant oatmeal (or uncooked ready-to-eat oat bran) to a yogurt and fruit bowl if you’re not a fan of traditional oatmeal.

    Quote by Andy Bellatti

    1 Reply
    1. re: Val

      but quick oatmeal is not instant oatmeal, val.

      the quick oatmeal is the rolled oats (the typical kind on the shelves, like quaker). i don't know if the fiber is different from the steel cut (rough-cut?), but it doesn't seem that there should be. i like either kind, but like the "rough cut" just for the texture -- silver palate makes a nice one.

    2. There's a difference between the triumvirate of instant/old-fashioned/steel-cut oats and the preflavored instant oats, but it's due to the additives, not the oats themselves. Some people siimply prefer the texture of steel-cut oats, whereas others (myself included) are more partial to the old-fashioned kind (I get great oats at my co-op: old-fashioned, but thicker than Quaker). You aren't missing any health benefits.

      1. Thanks- that's very helpful. And I was talking about quick cooking oats, with no additives. Thanks all!

        1 Reply
        1. re: cbrunelle

          happy eatin'!

          i like to add butter, milk, raisins, nutmeg and sugar/honey. it's all good -- like dessert for breakfast. i don't really do this myself, but treat my mom for breakfast when i'm there. it is lovely. then i ask myself, why don't i do this in general, for myself?

        2. There is a HUGE difference. The difference is in the way your body processes the oats. With instant oatmeal, it is very quickly broken down by your body causing a spike in your sugar levels. They are not nutritionally different, so if you are only worried about calories, either option is fine, but for overall health, in the long run, old fashioned oats are far far far healthier.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jess_m_92

            This is partially true. Quick-oats do digest quicker than old-fashioned and steel-cut, but they still have a low glycemic index, and will not cause an unhealthy spike in blood sugar the way a slice of bread would.
            This is a thorough article on the matter: