What Are the Benefits of Steel Cut Oats? | Bob's Red Mill Blog
What Are the Benefits of Steel Cut Oats?
Healthy Living on March 2, 2018 by

What Are the Benefits of Steel Cut Oats?

A hot, steaming bowl of oatmeal is a classic breakfast staple that many have enjoyed over the years. Oats themselves have been used as food for ages.

Before oats began to be cultivated and processed for human consumption, they were used as feed for animals. However, once people began to realize the nutritional benefits of oats for people, they began to incorporate them into their daily diet.

Today, oats are available in several different forms. You can buy instant oats, or quick-cooking oats, as well as rolled oats and steel cut oats. The difference between the types of oats lies in the way they are prepared and processed.

Oats today are used in a wide variety of ways, from that piping hot bowl of whole grain oatmeal to cereals and granola bars, to baked goods, puddings, and porridge.

Steel Cut Oats vs. Rolled Oats

raw steel cut oats

 

All oats are a whole grain that contain a significant serving of the nutrition and fiber a body needs to keep it running optimally. Metric per metric, rolled oats and steel cut oats are almost the same when it comes to nutritional value. However, steel cut oats beat out rolled oats in two areas, fiber content and density, which make steel cut oats the best bang for your nutritional buck.

Whole grain oats, sometimes referred to as oat kernels, are made up of three parts: the germ, the brand, and the endosperm. When oats are referred to as groats, it means they are whole grain oat kernels without a husk. Sometimes these oat kernels with no husk are simply called "oat groats."

Steel cut oats are made by taking the oat groats and cutting them into 2 to 3 smaller pieces using a steel blade. Steel cut oats are also sometimes called Irish oats. Toasting steel cut oats gives them a delicious nutty flavor that sets them apart from other types of oats. Steel cut oats are also more coarse than other types of oats and tend to be chewier. This gives them a hearty texture that is very filling, but it does mean they require longer soaking and cooking times. However, they are still good to use in an overnight oats recipe.

Rolled oats are made by flattening and steaming them rather than cutting them with a steel blade. As a result, rolled oats require less cook time than steel cut oats and are sometimes called "old-fashioned" rolled oats.

Rolled oats are used to make quick cook oats and instant oats and are often used in baking and cooking. Another difference in rolled oats is that they have a somewhat rounded shape that they retain even after they've been cooked, although the texture is creamy and much smoother than steel cut oats.

Steel Cut Oats Are High in Fiber

Steel cut oats are high in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is something our body can't digest but still needs. It is a requirement for optimal health. Steel cut oats, in particular, contain a soluble fiber made up of beta glucans.

Beta glucans form a unique gel-like substance when dissolved in water, and it is this substance that is thought to lower blood cholesterol levels as well as stabilize blood sugar levels.

In addition to the soluble fiber, steel cut oats also contain insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is what gives your stool its bulk and helps it move through the intestinal tract to keep your bowels moving on a regular basis. Regular and frequent bowel movements help to keep the digestive system healthy and functioning properly.

Steel cut oats are a good source of fiber. This is about 20% of your recommended daily intake. Because the American diet today can be so deficient in many ways, eating steel cut oats on a regular basis can help you meet your body's daily fiber requirements and help keep your body healthy and functioning at its best.

Steel Cut Oats Have a Low Glycemic Index

Another benefit of steel cut oats is that they rank fairly low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index gives foods a numerical value that tells you how it impacts your blood sugar when you consume carbohydrates. The lower the food is on the glycemic index, the better. Steel cut oats weigh in at a 55, which means their potential to spike your blood sugar to unhealthy levels is minimal.

People who suffer from health conditions like diabetes or prediabetes can consume carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index, and this can help them avoid dangerous spikes in their blood sugar levels.

This makes steel cut oats a very good choice for individuals who must keep a close watch on their glucose.

Steel Cut Oats Are Naturally Gluten Free

Steel cut oats do not naturally contain gluten, which makes them a great option for individuals trying to stick to a gluten free diet. Just be careful and check labels, because sometimes oats could be processed with other grains that do contain gluten and suffer from cross-contamination.

Make sure to check labels to see if the steel cut oats you buy have been processed with any other materials, or look for steel cut oats that are clearly labeled as gluten free oats.

Steel Cut Oats Are a Good Source of Iron

Steel cut oats also happen to be a very good source of iron. Iron is vital for the proper functioning of your body. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, and hemoglobin is what keeps oxygen circulating throughout your bloodstream to feed your organs and tissues.

When hemoglobin levels are low, your body will suffer, because the cells and tissues aren't getting the oxygen that they need to function properly.

When hemoglobin levels get too low you can become anemic, which can lead to related health concerns like poor cognitive function, disruption of your body's thermoregulation, a poor immune system, and even stomach problems and gastric upset.

Women especially must be careful to keep their iron levels healthy because menstruation can decrease a woman's levels significantly. Just a 1/4 cup serving of (dry) steel cut oats offers 10% of the recommended daily dose your body needs to function properly.

Steel Cut Oats Can Give Sustained Energy

bowl of steel cut oats with raspberries

Steel cut oats are a great way to give your body a lasting source of energy to start your day. Because steel cut oats are whole grain, they are considered a complex carbohydrate.

A complex carbohydrate is harder for your body to break down and use, so it takes longer and provides a more sustained energy source. You can also combine steel cut oats with a healthy serving of fats, such as nuts, seeds, or peanut butter and the added boost of fat will provide your body with a lasting level of energy through the morning until lunchtime and help you feel satiated.

You can also mix protein-packed Greek yogurt with steel cut oats and achieve a similar benefit. Also, steel cut oats are denser than other oats and made up of more water. This means you can eat less of them, feel full longer, and still receive the same nutrition found in rolled oats.

Steel Cut Oats Are High in Protein

 

Finally, steel cut oats contain protein. They are also low in saturated fat, which is an extra bonus to their health benefits.

As you can see, there are benefits to choosing steel cut oats vs. rolled oats. While nutritionally the two oats are very similar in makeup, the way that they are processed and made ready for consumption is quite different.

Because steel-cut oats are minimally processed, and because they contain more fiber and density than their counterparts, steel cut rolled oats are one of the healthiest grains you can eat.

 


78 Comments

  1. ChrisJ
    Does your Scottish oatmeal also have a low glycemic index?
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Hi Chris. We do not have specific numbers on the GI of our Scottish oats. We highly recommend you speak with your health care professional if this is a concern for your health.
      Reply
  2. Melinda Arcara
    Super excited to share this information at my next cooking demonstration titled..."beans, greens and gluten-free grains".
    Reply
  3. Greg & Brenda Parrish
    Greg & Brenda Parrish
    Love everything that we've tried, which is a lot. So glad we took a chance on that first product.
    Reply
  4. Maria Isabel Rocha
    Maria Isabel Rocha
    Tank you for yours information
    Reply
  5. […] And, choosing to make your Instant Pot oatmeal using steel cut oats will provide even more nutritional benefits. […]
    Reply
  6. dp
    I have been making 'savory oatmeal' and love it. Oatmeal topped with a poached egg, a little grated cheese, cilantro or chives and a spoon of salsa. Many other possibilities here. It only took one bowl of this to get me used to not eating my oatmeal with fruit and nuts.
    Reply
  7. Deedee deleon
    I use to eat steel cut oats occassionally but as of 4-23-18, i had so much energy that whole day, i went to sprouts and bought $4.00 worth at .89cents a pound an will go back today an restock!!!!!! I love the feeling the protien the fiber intake the taste with almond milk an nutmeg
    Reply
  8. […] “Steel cut oats are oat groats that have been cut into 2 to 3 smaller pieces using a steel blade. Steel cut oats are also sometimes called Irish oats.” – Bob’s Red Mill […]
    Reply
  9. […] You can check out a more in-depth review of the benefits of steel cut oats from Bob’s Red Mill here. […]
    Reply
  10. Cheryl goldring
    I would like to know the amount of magnesium in !/2 cup of your oatmeal.
    Thank you
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Cheryl, there is 61mg of magnesium in one serving (44 grams or 1/4 cup uncooked) of our Steel Cut Oats.
      Reply
  11. Andi Wells
    Hi, I have seen your products in the store for some time- i have limited funds and haven’t really patronized your fine company much- sorry. But I was at my sisters in Portland last week and heard your interview on opb. My sis said next time I visit we get to go to your mill! So excited! I am 56 and like to eat as well as possible- so when I shopped this weekend, I went to the bobs red mill section- actually looking for the “red flour” you mentioned- I didn’t see that, but I bought some of your organic steel cut oats- yum! I just read the benefits on your site and wanted you to know that I will continue to buy something delectable from your options- each and every time I run out. I liked what you said bob, about the passage on the first page of the good book about grains- I think you’re my latest hero- ha. I think what you did in giving your company to your employees is beyond generous- it is good- in the best sense of the word. I’m proud to reap the nutritional bennies, and in trying to do good myself- I want to help you, with my measly 6 bucks a week, continue to do really kind, thoughtful, conscientious things. Like my mom always said- I think bobs red mill is just swell. Thanks to all of you.
    Andi
    Reply
  12. Liz
    Is there a difference between pinhead and steel cut oats?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Liz, they are one and the same! Just different terms :)
      Reply
  13. Sister Bernadette Marie Zandonatti
    Sister Bernadette Marie Zandonatti
    I have a question. I have a box of steel oats oatmeal and it was best by september 18th. How much longer can I use it? I am not finished with the box yet it is about half full yet.
    Thank you.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi! We suggest using our products within the best by date or about 6 months beyond. Storing in the refrigerator or freezer will also extend the shelf life.
      Reply
  14. Butch
    I have tried steel cut oats no and love them! But, I like them both srely cooked. Is that ok?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Butch, I'm not sure I understand your question.
      Reply
  15. june king
    What grocery chain stores in Canada carry your organic steel cut oats? We have Real Canadian Superstore (Loblaws), Metro, Freshco, Food Basics,Soby's, Farm Boy and of course Walmart. And which Health Food stores too?

    Also, is there a casing on the bran that only opens up when heated. I want to get the most nutrition out of my serving and thought I would try overnight oats instead of cooking them?

    Does soaking them in cold water hold more nutrition than than pouring hot boiled water on them first and leaving them to soak?

    Thank you! And thank you so much dp for savoury recipe and Deedee for stay feeling fuller longer comment for my nature bikes and hikes.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi June, you can enter your postal code in our Store Finder to see local stores that carry our brand. There is no nutritional difference if prepared cold vs hot. Enjoy! :)
      Reply
  16. Bonnie Bowerman
    I often boil almond milk for about 8 minutes with two earl gray tea bags, then remove the tea bags and use the infused almond milk to cook my irish oats! After cooking I add honey and a bit more almond milk to taste. It is a great tasty snack anytime.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Yum! That sounds super tasty :)
      Reply
  17. Ron
    What is the difference in your regular steel cut oats vs gluten free steel cut...

    I have a large bag that is prob 6 mos old that I did not reefrig or freeze.. Would I be safer to order new bag
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Ron - all oats are inherently gluten free but the packages of ours that specifically say Gluten Free have been handled carefully from the farm to your door to ensure that there has been no cross contact with wheat. Each bag will have a best by date on it - we recommend enjoying by that date. If you have further questions our Customer Service team is happy to help at 1-800-349-2173 or [email protected]
      Reply
  18. Carol Woolley
    I’m interested in the vitamins. I was searching for nutritional values in steel cut oats. Are not vitamins part of nutritional value?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Carol - The nutritional information we provided is aligned with the regulations set by the FDA. Vitamin D and potassium are now required on the label because Americans do not always get the recommended amounts. Vitamins A and C are no longer required since deficiencies of these vitamins are rare today. If you have more questions about nutrition in any of our products our Customer Service team is happy to help. They can be reached at 1-800-349-2173 or [email protected] :)
      Reply
  19. Margitta sikkema
    Margitta sikkema
    How to order some steel cut oats
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Margitta, you can order directly from our website by clicking on the link below. Add items to your shopping cart then proceed through checkout.

      Bob's Red Mill: Steel Cut Oats

      If you'd rather place your order over the phone, you can call our Customer Service team at 1-800-349-2173 :)
      Reply
  20. Edwin Vladish
    Wonderful article ! I have just switched from Wheatlebix !
    Was getting heart burn from that! With the Steel Cut Oats and Flax Milk -None !
    Thank you again for your fine article !
    Reply
  21. Huy
    I grind steel cut oat into flour so cooking it takes less time, is grinding increase or lessen its glycemic index?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Huy, we do not test our products for their glycemic index and do not have that information unfortunately. We would recommend asking a nutritionist or dietitian.
      Reply
  22. Wayne Richardson
    Wayne Richardson
    Are all your flours low glycemic?
    Thank You
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Wayne, we don't test our products for their glycemic index. I would recommend looking at the nutritional labels for carbohydrate and fiber content.
      Reply
  23. C
    This article says 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup, but the package’s nutritional facts say it’s only 4 grams. Please fix. It’s misleading otherwise.
    Reply
    1. Carrie
      Yes, please fix. The protein content of a serving size of steel cut oats and rolled oats are the same. Steel cut is just a bit less processed.
      Reply
  24. C
    Apologies about my last comment. It seems I was looking at the quick steel cut oats.
    Reply
  25. J Joe
    Hi. Your per serving size for steel cut oats is 1/4 cup. Is that the amount of oats to cook in order to have a serving or is 1/4 cup the serving size to eat after cooking? I've always wanted to know. Thank you in advance!
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      The nutritional information is based on 1/4 dry, uncooked oats. If you cook them according to our directions they roughly double in volume after cooking. Enjoy! :)
      Reply
  26. christina eaton
    christina eaton
    Hi! I love the oats as they are, but I have diverticulitis and would like to grind them and use them in smoothies and pie crusts as well. Does the fiber still function the same in the digestive system when they are ground as when they are whole? In other words, will I stil get the same nutritional benefits from them as when they are unground? Thanks!
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Christina, yes - they have the same nutritional benefits. You're not losing anything by grinding the oats :)
      Reply
  27. Lindz
    They bring back memories of my granda making these every AM in Aberdeen, Scotland. They are brilliant.
    Reply
  28. Angie
    I really enjoy eating your steel cut oats hot and cold. But i was wondering if there's any nutritional difference in eating them cooked as opposed to soaking them overnight and eating the oats "raw"?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Angie, there is no nutritional difference. The oats are not raw to begin with - they have been heated in a dry kiln to stabilize the enzymes present.
      Reply
    2. Angie
      Good to know. Thank you Whitney!
      Reply
  29. DonnaT
    Life without oats - I don't think so. However... are your oats sprayed with Roundup? I've been hearing a lot about this lately.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Donna, we agree - a life without oats would be difficult!

      In response to our customers, we worked with our oat suppliers to put an end to their use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest desiccant for all varieties of Bob’s Red Mill oats. We look forward to continuing our mission to make the world a healthier place with whole grain foods and stand behind both our products and our dedication to safety, quality and transparency.

      Thank you for believing in Bob’s and entrusting us with your health. If you have any more questions we're happy to help: [email protected]
      Reply
  30. DonnaT
    I did the research I should have done before my question posted earlier and was pleased to find the following statement:
    "We have more information here, on our website http://www.bobsredmill.com/blog/featured-articles/glyphosate/.
    Because we at Bob’s Red Mill are dedicated to bringing all of our customers natural, healthy products, whether organic or conventional, we have inquired directly with farmers and with our suppliers to determine if glyphosate desiccation is used by the farmers supplying our products. The majority of our conventional wheat is grown close to home in the Pacific Northwest where growing seasons are typically longer and the practice of desiccation is as such rarely used. We’ve been told desiccation is not a practice used by our individual farmers. The growing, harvest and communal storage practices sometimes used by the wheat industry in general make it nearly impossible, however, for our multi-source suppliers to guarantee the practice of glyphosate desiccation is not used with all of the conventional wheat the suppliers sell to us.We are able to assure our customers, however, that glyphosate desiccation is not a practice used for our organic products as the use of glyphosate is not permitted at any time in the cultivation of our organically grown ingredients. Our Customers who desire to be certain that glyphosate has not been used may wish to choose instead from our extensive line of certified organic products."
    Reply
  31. Teri
    The steel cut oats is either gluten free OR organic but not both.
    Why?
    Are the non organic sprayed with glyphosate?
    Seems I have to decide if I want gluten free or glyphosate free and I want both so what is the problem making this possible?!
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Teri,

      Glyphosate is not used on any of our Oat products. We do offer an Organic Gluten Free option - here's a link. Enjoy!

      Bob's Red Mill: Gluten Free Organic Oats
      Reply
  32. Hugh LaFollette
    I used your SC oats to make oatmeal. . . . along with fruits, spaces, etc.

    How can I also add your oat groats to get even more texture?

    Hugh
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Hugh - Oat Groats take a bit more cooking time; 30 minutes in comparison to Steel Cut which take 15-20 on the stove top. If you want to enjoy them together I'd give the Oat Groats a head start by cooking them for 10-15 minutes before adding in the Steel Cut Oats. You could also experiment with soaking the oat groats overnight to soften which would also shorten the cook time.
      Reply
  33. Avery
    Hi! is it okay to eat raw steel cut oats for example in energy balls?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Avery - the oats are safe to eat, yes. However, I wouldn't recommend using Steel Cut Oats in energy balls because of their harder texture. Rolled Oats would be a better alternative.
      Reply
  34. Craig
    We plan to prepare/cook and then freeze dry with blueberry's and strawberry's.. Any recommendations or suggestions would be appreciated.

    We wanted to add nuts but are concerned the natural oils would spoil or curdle. Do you know if cooking the nuts with the groat would resolve the concern. The mega 3 oils are important, We just don't see a way to preserve them in our process.
    Reply
  35. Carole Louise
    In response to dp's "savory oatmeal," great idea--thank you! I always have my Bob's Red Mill organic steel cut oats with organic blueberries, Ceylon cinnamon, organic cream, and a touch of organic Vermont grade B syrup. I also eat brown rice with an egg and toasted sesame oil. Anyway, I am going to try dp's idea and top my oatmeal with an egg! Thank you!
    Reply
  36. Aaron
    Every comparison I've seen between rolled and steel-cut oats always compares them in terms of using them for oatmeal. Clearly, steel-cut is preferable in all of the above ways when used for oatmeal. But what if one is just eating the raw rolled oats (with yogurt, cold water, or whatever)? I assume you can't eat steel-cut oats without cooking (tell me if I'm wrong?). If that's the case, then which is better (raw extra-thick rolled oats or cooked steel-cut oats), in terms of fiber, glycemic index, density, etc.?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Aaron - All of our oats have been heated during processing to stabilize the enzymes. They are not considered raw and can be eaten without any further cooking. None is better than the other - they are all made from the same oat groat, just cut/rolled into different shapes. Those differences in texture are subjective to your preferences. You can find all nutritional information on the product pages.
      Reply
  37. EMMETT T BERG
    EMMETT T BERG
    1/2 cup steel cut oats
    1/2 cup Greek yogurt
    Half portion of whey protein mixed with 3 ounces water
    Tablespoon of peanut butter
    Handful of fresh berries

    Mix it up and refrigerate. Works best overnight but ready in only 15 minutes. The yogurt ferments the oats. Weighs out at whopping 725 calories. Truly the breakfast of champions!
    Reply
  38. DARRELL MAK
    My side-by-side comparison of the nutritional labels between steel-cut and rolled oats doesn't show as significant of a difference as the article implies. Steel-cut has slightly more iron, but rolled has slightly more potassium; everything else (e.g., Calories, fat, carbs, fiber, protein, sodium, sugars) are nearly identical!
    Reply
  39. Beverly Davies
    Beverly Davies
    i put my oats in the food processor with raisins, I pulse a few times and then grind, the raisins become little specks in the whole thing and are really good that way, I don't want whole raisins so found this way
    Reply
  40. John Killian
    Looking at various brands of steel cut oats they almost universally have 150 calories per 1/4 cup dry serving. Bob’s Red Mill has 170 calories. Not a big difference in a daily diet but why is that?
    Reply
  41. john stewart
    I am a devotee of steel cut oats and noticed your oats for sale at the local supermarket here in Australia, on the packet it said the oats were imported into the USA, packaged and then exported to Australia.
    The health benefits of eating steel cut oats are fantastic however those benefits need to be balanced with "food miles" which have a negative impact on our environment.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi John - Yes, our Oats are grown close to our home in the Pacific Northwest in both the US and Canada (British Columbia). The oats are then brought to our Mill in Oregon where we mill, package and ship out products worldwide.
      Reply
  42. Gretchen
    Your muesli is wonderful during spring and summer but when the weather turns cold, it’s your steel cut oatmeal I love more than anything! I make enough for the week, adding cinnamon after cooking—then it is refrigerated. Each morning, I add a chai teabag (Tazo) and milk to a serving before I microwave it to reheat. Then I add a Tablespoon of orange flavored cranberries (Trader Joes) and a Tablespoon of chopped nuts. Oh, and a little drizzle of honey! Heaven here on earth!!!
    Reply
  43. Kristi Armbruster
    Hi,
    Do you know how much soluble fiber out of the total amount of fiber is in a serving of your Steel Cut Oats?

    Thanks.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Kristi - Please email us at [email protected] for this type of detailed nutritional information.
      Reply
  44. Natalie
    What is the difference between the Red Mill Steel cut oats vs the Red Mill quick cooking steel cut oats they sell at Costco? I cook them overnight in the slow cooker.
    Thank you.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Natalie - The Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats are just cut into smaller pieces in comparison to our Steel Cut Oats, resulting in a quicker cooking time. They are both made from whole grain oat groats.
      Reply
  45. Candy
    Would it work to use steal cut oats instead of rolled in my recipe for granola?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Candy - No, we would not recommend using steel cut oats in a granola recipe. The pieces of steel cut oats would become too hard.
      Reply
  46. Suzy Lemieux
    Is your oats raw ?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Suzy - No, our oat are placed in a dry kiln and brought up to 200°F for 4 to 5 hours to stabilize the enzyme action. The oats are then cooled and stored.
      Reply
  47. Leo Holland
    Can you put uncooked steel cut oats in a smoothie?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Leo! Yes, if you have a high-powdered blender this would work. Alternately you could soak the steel cut oats in water overnight then blend the softened oats into your smoothie.
      Reply
  48. Sakshi Sharma
    Very well summarised the benefits of steel cut oats. Here's what I prefer when it comes to making a choice for oats which are good to be consumed as a morning breakfast which will keep you active the entire day. I use True Elements Steel Cut Oats as they are a natural source of Vitamin B and Iron.
    Reply
  49. Martin
    I love the Red Mill steel cut oats. I've been eating a couple servings for 5 or 6 years everyday. Throw it in a rice cooker at night and it's ready when I get up. Love the gluten free muesli too...
    Reply

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