Oats offer so much more than a warming breakfast as the mornings get chillier! Getting your oats on a regular basis is a surefire way to boost your healthy pregnancy diet. And don’t just keep them in the food cupboard …. oats are beneficial for your skin too, perfect for making a gentle bath soak to soothe your sensitive pregnant skin.
Check out our ten favourite oaty facts and uses
- Oats are a great source of carbs and fibre but they’re also exceptionally nutrient dense with more fat and protein than most grains. Ideal as part of your pregnancy diet, half a cup of oats contains around 20% of your daily iron requirements, 20% of the zinc you’ll need, 11% of your folate and 39% of your Vitamin B1. All in just one breakfast bowl!
- Oats can help lower blood pressure. High in antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols, oats include a unique group of antioxidants known as avenanthramides. These are thought to help lower blood pressure levels by increasing the production of nitric oxide, a gas molecule which helps dilate blood vessels improving the flow of blood. Especially important during pregnancy when you have up to 50% more blood in your system!
- Oats are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre is the one that helps your digestive tract to process food, helping you avoid the dreaded pregnancy constipation. Oats are particularly high in beta-glucan, a soluble fibre which slows digestion and has added benefits in lowering cholesterol. It also helps to make you feel fuller for longer.
- The beta-glucans in oats help slow the absorption of sugar by the body, reducing blood sugar spikes and keeping your blood sugar levels stable. According to one study, the fibre in oats helps improve the metabolism of glucose – good news if you’re aiming to reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity. That big bowl of porridge in the morning will provide slow burn energy, ideal to fuel your pregnancy workouts.
- Oats for breastfeeding. Many breast-feeding mothers recommend oats to increase their milk supply. The iron-rich properties of oats, combined with the potential benefits of beta-glucan in raising the levels of the breast-feeding hormone prolactin can boost breast milk production. Or maybe it’s just the comfort factor of a warming bowl of porridge that simply relaxes you, helping your body produce more milk!
- For skin care buy uncooked whole oats and grind them in a food processor until you have a fine, even powder. Test the consistency by adding a spoonful of your freshly ground oats to a glass of water – the liquid should turn a milky white.
- Treat yourself to a truly relaxing oatsoak bath. Add a generous handful of ground oats into your tub as it fills up with warm water and then shake in a few drops of lavender oil or a pinch of dried lavender. As you relax in the bath the oatmeal will cleanse your skin and lock in moisture, while the lavender releases a calming, soothing scent. Avoid staying in too long – 15 minutes oaty soaking is recommended.
- Oatmeal can help to normalize your skin’s pH, alleviating irritation and softening and moisturising your skin – a perfect natural balm for easing the itchiness often associated with pregnancy, especially as your skin stretches as your bump gets bigger.
- Oat Body scrub. There’s something about being pregnant that encourages you to ditch chemicals and over the counter products in favour of natural products with ingredients that you’ve mixed yourself. If your pregnancy body scrub is good enough to eat then you can be pretty sure it’s ok to rub it on your pregnant skin. Blend ½ cup of ground oatmeal with ¼ cup of coconut oil and ½ cup of brown sugar – demerara works well, but experiment to see which works best for you. You’ll get the same cleansing and buffering properties without all the unnecessary harshness…and, as an added bonus, the coconut oil will give your skin a healthy-looking pregnancy glow
- Dress up your porridge. Whilst the Scots swear by pinhead oats soaked in water overnight most of us opt for the easier ready rolled oats that can be cooked in minutes. We suggest a ratio of one cup of porridge to two cups of liquid – try one cup of whole milk and one cup of water to bring an extra boost of calcium to your pregnancy diet without being too gloopy. Have fun with the toppings! Add sultanas, chopped nuts, seeds (linseed, flax or pumpkin seeds work well), cranberries or goji berries. Top with slices of banana, apple or blueberries. Add a dollop of yogurt, a swirl of honey or an indulgent spoonful of golden syrup.