Better Choices: Rolled Oats vs. Breadcrumbs

Not all grains are created equal, and refined grains have been stripped of their nutrients and fiber. Most breadcrumbs fit into the refined/simple carbohydrate category, and rolled oats can make a perfect and far more nutritious alternative. 

Why Should I Avoid Breadcrumbs? 

While some breadcrumbs are made from whole wheat bread or other healthier alternatives, adding any type of bread to recipes (especially white, as is most common with breadcrumbs) ups the carb count and lowers the nutrient density of your meal.  

Refined grains are those that have been stripped of their vitamins, minerals and fiber through processing, making them perfectly fit the description of an “empty calorie.” Also, refined grains like breadcrumbs have a very high glycemic index and glycemic load, meaning they quickly spike your insulin levels after eating. High glycemic foods have been linked with overeating, obesity and certain diseases. 

Other commonly consumed refined grains (aside from breadcrumbs) come in the form of white spaghetti and pasta, white rice, cereals, breads and baked goods like cookies and cakes.  

Health Benefits of Rolled Oats 

Oats are a breakfast staple for many people, and for good reason. They are versatile (you can flavor them in seemingly endless ways), filling and highly nutritious.  

Avena sativa(oats) is a cereal grain that originates in North America and Europe, comparable to the wheat or barley plant. All oats (steel cut, rolled, quick cook, etc) start out as oat groats that have had the outer husk removed. The difference between different types of oats that you see at the supermarket is simply due to the way they are processed.  

For example, steelcut oats are cut into only 2 or 3 pieces, producing a less-processed version —which is why they take longer to cook. Rolled oats (sometimes called old-fashioned oats) are made by steaming and rolling out oats for a more finely ground product, which can then be cooked much faster. Quick oats have been processed even further, making them cook even more quickly (and lessening their nutritional value). 

Here are some of the top health benefits of oats: 

High in Antioxidants 

Not only are oats rich in important nutrients such as manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and copper (among many others), they are also packed full of antioxidants. Polyphenols make up the majority of antioxidants found in oats, especially the unique group called avenanthramides. These antioxidants have been found to be very anti-inflammatory, as well as able to support healthy blood pressure. 

Cholesterol Lowering 

Thanks to the beta-glucan fiber content in oats, they are known to be an excellent food to support healthy cholesterol levels. This particular type of fiber has been shown to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, along with overall blood cholesterol.  

Blood Sugar Control 

Oats have been shown to help lower blood sugar levels, especially in those who are obese and/or have type 2 diabetes. This is largely thanks to the high fiber content, oats help to fill you up and prevent overeating.  

Oats Can Help With Weight Loss 

Because oats are highly satiating (filling), they help to keep you satisfied and more able to resist cravings for carbs and sugar throughout the day. They can also help to promote a decreased overall daily calorie intake, which naturally promotes weight loss.   

How to Swap Oats for Breadcrumbs 

For every 1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs your recipe calls for, substitute 2/3 cup of rolled oats. While not necessary, it could help to quickly run your oats through a food processor or blender for just a moment to turn them into smaller flakes. Add these exactly as you would breadcrumbs, as your recipe (or imagination) calls for.   

Oven Roasted Chicken Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup rolled oats 
  • 3 ounces parmesan cheese, grated 
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh thyme 
  • pinch of salt and pepper (to taste) 
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, boneless skinless, sliced into pieces (think “chicken tenders”) 
  • 1 tbsp coconut or olive oil (melt coconut oil if necessary) 

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. 
  2. While your oven is heating, run the oats briefly through a food processor or blender, just until the large flakes have been broken down a bit. Then add cheese, thyme, salt and pepper and blend/process until all ingredients are well combined. Place mixture on a plate. 
  3. Coat your chicken evenly in your oil of choice, and submerge each piece fully in the oat mixture. Lay pieces out evenly on a lightly greased baking sheet and allow to bake for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is done. 
  4. Enjoy!