Oats are Good for You

WISE King Solomon once wrote: “I have come to know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during one’s life; and also that every man should eat and indeed drink and see good for all his hard work. It is the gift of God.” Among the foods that are especially suited to enable man to do hard work is the grain known as oats.

Oats are grown around the world, some 3,000 million bushels annually, more than one-fourth of which is produced in the United States. In that country oats are exceeded only by corn or maize. There are some one hundred different varieties of oats, among which are white, red, yellow, gray and black oats. It is a favorite grain of the Scots, and not without good reason. It thrives on lean soil such as is found in Scotland, is the most economical of all grains as regards food value, and oat straw can be used for feed and for fertilizer.

In some lands a considerable portion of the oat crop is used for animal feed, such as for horses and chickens. In fact, it is the best of all feeds for horses, being unexcelled as a tissue or muscle builder. Horses prove their value to a farmer by using their muscles, and so need oats.

For many humans oats are also an excellent cereal food. Just how far back the production of oats goes is not known today, there being no reference to oats in the Bible. But, for that matter, neither is there any mention in the Bible of certain other important grains, such as corn (maize), rice and rye. (“Corn” in the King James Version refers to grain, not to maize.) However, oats are mentioned in the Mishnah, completed about the year 200 C.E. Earliest references tell about wild oats being a bothersome weed.

Hippocrates, the so-called father of the healing arts, who lived in the fifth century B.C.E., wrote that oats made into porridge or gruel (a thin porridge) “when eaten moistens and refreshes.” Pound for pound, oats lead all other grains in food value. In the form of oatmeal they are rich not only in carbohydrates, 67 percent, but also in protein, 16 percent; fat, 7 percent; minerals, 2 percent, and the rest moisture or water. All told, a pound of oatmeal contains 1,850 calories. It follows that a judicious use of oatmeal can cut down on the use of more costly foods. Oatmeal is in particular a good source of vitamin B1.

One of the reasons why oats have such an advantage over certain other grains is that, when they are milled, only the outer husk is removed, the bran and the germ remaining, the vitamin- and mineral-rich portions. It is therefore far more nutritious than any breakfast food made largely from white flour or polished rice. This is indeed something to be considered, for according to Dr. Jean Mayer, Harvard nutritionist, during the last twenty years there has been a decline in the vitamin and mineral content of the average American diet.

There are many ways in which rolled or cut oats can be used. For one thing, they can be used in making stuffing for chicken or turkey, even as they can be used instead of bread crumbs when making meat loaf. Oatmeal can also be used instead of flour as a thickening agent.

Many are also the uses to which oatmeal can be put in baking. Oatmeal cookies are as delectable as they are nourishing. For making them without flour take four cups of oatmeal, two cups of brown sugar, one cup of oil. Mix and leave it for eight hours. Then add two well-beaten eggs, one-half teaspoon salt, one teaspoon almond extract and raisins and nuts if desired. Bake in moderately hot oven for 15 minutes. Let cool before removing from pan. Result? As tasty, nourishing and wholesome a cookie as you could wish for.

Then there is also oatmeal bread, a favorite of the Scots, even as are scones made with oatmeal. Oatmeal can also be used with flour when making piecrusts, when making date-nut bars, and so forth. And, of course, the most common use of oatmeal is for porridge or as hot cereal. As such it has been a favorite for twenty-five centuries. Cooked with milk, honey and diced apples, and served with wheat germ and sliced bananas, it is a meal in itself.

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