Is Oatmeal Low FODMAP?

If you are on a low FODMAP diet, you may know that it can be difficult to get in enough fiber. And many high fiber grains are a no-no. So, you may be wondering, “is oatmeal low FODMAP?” The simple answer is yes, but of course, there are some factors to consider when choosing and preparing your oatmeal.

This article covers:

  • The FODMAP content of oatmeal and other products containing oats
  • A discussion on oats and gluten
  • Different types of oats available on the market
  • The health benefits of oats
  • And how to make sure your bowl of oatmeal remains low FODMAP

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Is Oatmeal Low FODMAP?

Oats are low FODMAP in moderate portions. But it should be noted that large amounts of oats contain fructans and GOS.

Your preparation method can also add FODMAPs. For example, if you make your oatmeal with regular cow’s milk, you introduce lactose. Other FODMAPs can be added if you use toppings like blackberries, apples, and honey.

I recommend using the Monash University FODMAP app to determine what toppings and mix-ins can be added to your oatmeal. FODMAP Friendly is another helpful app.

FODMAPs can also be found in many oat products including cereal, granola, breakfast bars, and some instant oatmeal.  This is usually due to other ingredients in the product such as high fructose corn syrup, inulin, dates, or pear juice concentrate.

FODMAPs in apple flavored instant oats

Are Oats Gluten-Free?

Pure oats are gluten-free. The problem is that many oats become contaminated with gluten during growing, harvesting, storage, or processing.

Oats may be contaminated with gluten during growing, harvesting, storing, and processing.

If you must avoid gluten, look for oats that are labeled gluten-free. People with newly diagnosed celiac disease should discuss with their doctor or dietitian whether it is ok to add oats to their diet.

Most people with IBS can tolerate regular oats, whether they are gluten-free or not.

Types of Oats

Oatmeal is commonly consumed as steel-cut, rolled, and quick oats.  Oat groats are the whole oat kernel with the non-edible hull removed.

Types of oats: oat groats, steel-cut, old fashioned, quick or instant

Oat Groats

The least processed and least common way to consume oats – oat groats are low FODMAP at a portion size of ¼ cup.

Steel-Cut Oats

Oat groats are cut to produce a hearty, chewy, nutty product that we know as steel-cut oats. This form of oats takes longer to cook than rolled or quick oats. Steel-cut oats are low FODMAP.

Whole Rolled Oats

Rolled oats, or old-fashioned oats, are steamed and rolled to flatten them. They are still considered whole grains and provide the same nutrition benefits as steel-cut oats.

They are also low FODMAP. However, at large portions (3/4 cup dry) they do contain moderate amounts of fructans and GOS.

Quick Oats

Quick or instant oats are the most processed version. But they are still considered whole grain and have a nutrition profile very similar to rolled and steel-cut oats.  

According to the Whole Grain Council, “instant oats are whole oats that have been pre-cooked, dried then thinly rolled”. This creates smaller oat particles and allows for a shorter cooking time.

Some brands of quick or instant oats are low FODMAP at a portion of ½ cup, while others are low FODMAP at ¼ cup. Quaker Quick 1-Minute Oats (plain) are certified low FODMAP at ½ cup. Variations in particle size may be responsible for the difference from one brand to another.

Beware of instant oat products with added ingredients. Many instant oatmeal packages contain high FODMAP ingredients, from high FODMAP fruits to a hard-to-digest fiber called inulin.

How Oats Help Your Gut

Oats are a gut health superstar! These fiber-rich whole grains help keep you regular and nurture the garden of bacteria and other microbes in our digestive tract – collectively known as the gut microbiome.

Low FDOMAP oatmeal for gut health

Soluble and Insoluble Fiber

Oatmeal is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber is great at absorbing water and creating a gel. These properties help slow digestion. The soluble fiber in oats can be helpful for people with diarrhea.

Insoluble fiber provides bulk. This type of fiber gives your poop mass. It can help stimulate the bowel and make things pass through faster. Therefore, oats can also help prevent constipation.

Beta-Glucan

Oats contain a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is a prebiotic, meaning that it passes undigested through the small intestine to the colon, where it is fermented by beneficial bacteria. This supports a healthy gut microbiome, which translates to several other health benefits.

Gut microbes use prebiotics for fuel

Resistant Starch

Another gut-friendly feature of oats is that they contain resistant starch. Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate. And as the name suggests, it is resistant to digestion. Like beta-glucan, resistant starch can be used for fuel by bacteria in the colon.

Other Health Benefits of Oats

Heart disease – Intake of oats may decrease the risk for heart disease. Again, the soluble fiber beta-glucan is thought to be responsible for decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol.1 Plus the polyphenols in oats may help reduce inflammation, another factor in heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

Immunity – Oats contain many important nutrients and compounds for a strong immune system. These include copper, iron, selenium, zinc, glutamine, and polyphenols.2

Plus, there is increasing evidence of the role of a healthy microbiome in immune function – and so, the beta-glucan, resistant starch, and polyphenols in oats may indirectly affect immunity as well.

Diabetes and Insulin Sensitivity – Oats, especially in their less processed form, can help prevent blood sugar spikes and reduces the amount of insulin the body needs. Of course, this can be helpful for those with diabetes. But it can also help reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes in the first place.

Worth noting, however, is that this benefit for blood sugar may be lost with quick or instant oats3. So, in this respect, it may be best to stick with old-fashioned rolled oats or steel-cut.

Weight maintenance – The fiber content in oats can slow stomach emptying. And their ability to hold water can make you feel full.4 These effects can help keep you satisfied between meals and reduce overall intake.

Health benefits of oats

How to Prepare Low FODMAP Oatmeal

After reading the many health benefits of oats, you may be ready to add more to your diet. But if you are on a low FODMAP diet, there is more to know than just the FODMAP content of the oats themselves.

Here are some tips to make sure your oatmeal is truly low FODMAP:

  1. Pick your oat product. I recommend steel cut or old-fashioned rolled oats.
  2. Pick your liquid. You can simply use water. But if you prefer to use milk, but sure to choose a low FODMAP option. These include lactose-free milk or one of the following plant-based products: almond, macadamia (check ingredients), quinoa, or rice milk.
  3. Cook. Simply follow the package instructions. *Tip – If making old-fashioned rolled oats in the microwave, use a larger bowl than you think you need! The oatmeal will bubble up as it cooks. It can also help to stop the microwave once or twice and stir to prevent a boil-over.
  4. Add Flavor. Choose low FODMAP toppings like a small serve of berries (strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries), kiwi, sliced green banana, peanut butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, walnuts, pecans, or flaxseed.
  5. Enjoy!
Low FODMAP oatmeal toppings: small serves os strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, sliced green banana, kiwi, peanut butter, walnuts, peacans, small serves of slivered almonds, macadamia nuts, flaseed, chia seeds, cocoa powder, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla extract

Recap

To sum it all up… “Is oatmeal low FODMAP?” Yes – if you follow a few basic rules like make sure your portion isn’t too big, prepare it with water or low FODMAP milk, and make sure any flavor additions are also low FODMAP.

With these considerations, you can take advantage of many ways oats can help keep you healthy – from your gut to your heart and your waistline!

Mix up a bowl and enjoy! Or check out this post on Low FODMAP Overnight Oats (with a free downloadable e-cookbook).

Not sure if a low FODMAP diet is right for you? You may enjoy this post – The FODMAP Elimination Diet: What to Consider Before You Start. Or book a FREE connection call to see if we are a good fit to work together one-on-one.

References

1.         Mathews R, Kamil A, Chu YF. Global review of heart health claims for oat beta-glucan products. Nutr Rev. 2021;78:78-97. doi:10.1093/NUTRIT/NUZ069

2.         Chen O, Mah E, Dioum E, Marwaha A, Shanmugam S, Malleshi N, Sudha V, Gayathri R, Unnikrishnan R, Anjana RM, Krishnaswamy K, Mohan V CY. The Role of Oat Nutrients in the Immune System: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2021;13(4):1048. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13041048

3.         Musa-Veloso K, Noori D, Venditti C, Poon T, Johnson J, Harkness LS, O’Shea M, Chu Y. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials on the Effects of Oats and Oat Processing on Postprandial Blood Glucose and Insulin Responses. J Nutr. 2021;(151):341-351.

4.         Paudel D, Dhungana B, Caffe M, Krishnan P. A Review of Health-Beneficial Properties of Oats. Foods;2021;(10):2591.

Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.

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