Oatmeal for Diabetes: An Expert’s Guide


Oatmeal for Diabetes: An Expert’s Guide HealthifyMe HealthifyMe – The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.

Diabetes is a widespread medical condition in which the blood sugar levels of a person rise above the ideal level. To manage sugar levels, a person with diabetes needs to pay special attention to what they eat. A person with diabetes should categorically avoid a high carbohydrate diet because it is directly related to increasing blood sugar levels. At the same time, to manage diabetes effectively, it is helpful to choose a nutritious diet. It should contain high fibre carbohydrates instead of processed carbohydrates with added sugar. So eating food high in nutrition and high fibre carbohydrates and low in unhealthy sugar and refined carbohydrates is essential to managing diabetes. Additionally, it is also helpful in improving overall health.

Oatmeal is the perfect food that fulfils the above requirements. It is a standard breakfast made from oats and liquid like water, milk or yoghurt. There are different kinds of oats that you can use for your oatmeal:

  • Instant oats: Oat groats that have been steamed and flaked.
  • Rolled oats: Oat groats are steamed and rolled into thicker flakes.
  • Irish oats/ Steel-cut Oats: Oat groats by chopping the whole oat groat with a steel blade.
  • Whole oat: Oat groat in its intact form
  • Scottish oats: Oats made after grinding whole wheat groat
  • Quick oats: Steamed oats rolled thinner and chopped into small pieces.

How is Oatmeal Beneficial for Diabetes? Low Glycemic Index

Foods with a low Glycemic Index help keep blood sugar levels stable. The Glycemic index is a way to know how quickly a food will release its sugar content in the blood. Conversely, a high Glycemic Index means that the food will release sugar fast and cause spikes in blood sugar levels. 

On the other hand, a low Glycemic Index food will release sugar slowly into the blood. As a result, there will not be any sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. Oatmeals have a low value of Glycemic Index which is close to 55. It is much lower than breakfasts like corn flakes, with a GI value as high as 70. 

Rich in Fibre

Fibre helps in slowing down the breakdown of sugar. As a result, it prevents sudden spikes in blood glucose levels. According to research, a person should ideally eat 25-30 grams of fibre each day. For example, each serving of oatmeal carries about 8 grams of fibre. So, 1-2 servings of oatmeal along with servings of fresh fruits and vegetables are sufficient to fulfil the ideal fibre requirement per day.   

Lower Blood Sugar

Oatmeal is rich in a particular type of fibre known as beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is in the cell walls of bacteria and yeast. It has wide-ranging health benefits. Research suggests that beta-glucans help manage diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels in check and lowering cholesterol. The binding of beta-glucans helps in improving immune response. Purified beta-glucans have anti-tumour and anti-cancer properties.

Temporary Increase in Insulin Sensitivity

Oatmeal can help in improving insulin sensitivity also. According to research, for people with Type 2 diabetes, people who ate a meal of oatmeal had a better insulin response than those who did not have a meal of oatmeal.

High Nutritional Value of Oatmeal

A diet high in nutrition is ideal. It is even more critical in the case of a person with diabetes. Oatmeal is highly nutritious and has almost all types of nutrients. As per USDA, 100 gms of Raw oats has:

  • Calories: 389
  • Water: 8%
  • Protein: 16.9 grams
  • Carbs: 66.3 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Fibre: 10.6 grams

Oatmeal: Other Significant Health Benefits Healthy for the Heart

Oatmeals are rich in particular types of fibres called beta-glucan. Beta-glucans also help in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, research suggests that 3 grams of beta-glucans from oats can help in lowering bad cholesterol levels and, at the same time, improve good cholesterol levels. 

Reduces the Risk of Childhood Asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease common in kids. Shortness of breath, continuous coughing and wheezing are common symptoms. Also, a study suggests that feeding oats to children before they turn six months can decrease the risk of childhood asthma.  

Helps Treat Constipation

Oatmeal can help older adults with constipation and irregular bowel movements. That is because the dietary fibres present in the oatmeal help relieve constipation. One study found that including oatmeal in the diet of the elderly for just three months had significant results in relieving constipation.

Oatmeal: Healthy Recipes #1 Oats Upma

It is a quick oatmeal breakfast that you can cook in 15 minutes.


  • Oats: 1 cup
  • Oil: 1 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds: ¼ tsp
  • Chana Dal: ½ tsp
  • Urad Dal: ½ tsp
  • Salt: As per taste
  • Turmeric: ¼ tsp
  • Veggies (Peas, carrots, onion, chillies, beans): As preferred


  1. Dry roast the oats until they become crisp. Once roasted, put it aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let them pop. Once they pop, add chana dal and urad dal.
  3. Add some peanuts and split cashews.
  4. Fry until the dal turns golden. Add grated ginger and fry for a minute more.
  5. Add some chopped onion and green chillies.
  6. Put some vegetables like peas, carrots and beans as well. 
  7. Fry for a few minutes.
  8. Sprinkle some water and cover the pan for 3 minutes.
  9. Add ½ tablespoon salt and ¼ tablespoon turmeric.
  10. Pour water and let it boil. If you want more mushy oats, add more water.
  11. Add roasted oats to the mixture. Mix well till the water is absorbed.
  12. Cover the pan for 2-3 minutes.

Oats upma is ready to be served!

#2 Coconut Oats

Another healthy and easy to make oatmeal dish is coconut oats. 


  • Rolled Oats: 1 cup
  • Oil: 1 tsp
  • Grated Coconut
  • Chana Dal: ½ tsp
  • Urad Dal: ½ tsp
  • Cashews: 10 g
  • Ginger (Grated): ½ tsp
  • Curry Leaves: 5
  • Green Chillies (chopped): 2
  • Coconut (Grated): 2 tsp
  • Mint Leaves: 6
  • Lemon Juice: ½ lemon
  • Salt: As per taste


  1. Add rolled oats to a strainer and pour 3 cups of water. Rinse them under running water. Make sure that you rinse off the water thoroughly. 
  2. Heat a pan with oil and add cumin and mustard.
  3. After some time, add urad dal, chana dal and cashews.
  4. Fry until the colour turns golden. Add grated ginger, curry leaves, green chillies and fry for a minute more.
  5. Add ½ tablespoon salt and ¼ tablespoon turmeric.
  6. Add a tablespoon of water. It will soften the dal.
  7. Add rolled oats to this mixture.
  8. Stir it well. Cover the pan and heat for 2 minutes. Then turn off the stove. 
  9. Add coconut and some coriander leaves.
  10. Sprinkle lemon juice and mix the contents of the pan.

#3 Oats Egg Omelette

Oats Egg Omelette is a filling breakfast that you can make easily. 


  • Oat flour: ¼ cup
  • Milk: 3tsp
  • Eggs: 2
  • Oil: 1 tsp
  • Veggies (Onion, Capsicum, Green Chillies, Carrots) Finely chopped: As preferred.


  1. Chop some onions, capsicum, green chillies and carrots.
  2. Add oat flour, salt and turmeric to a bowl. Add milk also to it. 
  3. Break the eggs. Beat them together until they are of pouring consistency.
  4. Add one tablespoon of oil to a pan and heat it.
  5. Pour the egg mixture when the pan is hot.
  6. Mix all the vegetables and add them to the pan.
  7. Flip when the base is firm enough. 
  8. Cook the other side.

Oats egg omelette is ready to be served.

#4 Oatmeal Porridge

A healthy, bland breakfast that you can prepare in under 10 minutes.  


  • Oats: 1 cup
  • Ghee: 1 tsp
  • Chopped veggies (Carrot, Onion, Peas etc.): As preferred
  • Salt and Pepper: As per taste


  1. Chop some potatoes and carrots.  
  2. Put oats and chopped vegetables in a pressure cooker.
  3. Pour water. Add salt and pepper and cook vegetables soft. Cook till one whistle.
  4. Heat ghee in a small pan.
  5. Add the heated ghee to the porridge.

#5 Oats Fruit Smoothie

A healthy beverage that gives you a burst of energy for the day.


  • Oats: 1 cup
  • Lemon juice: 1 tsp
  • Banana: 1
  • Strawberries: 6
  • Cashews and Almonds (Chopped): 1 tsp


  1. Rinse rolled oats with water and drain thoroughly. Allow them to soak for 8-12 hours.
  2. Pour lukewarm water and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Pour 1 cup of water. 
  3. Add the soaked oats to a blender. Add fruits like bananas and strawberries also. 
  4. Blend until smooth. You can add cashews and almonds to garnish the smoothie. 

Oatmeal: Possible Side Effects and Precautions May Cause Belly Bloating

Oatmeal is rich in fibre and starch. However, bacteria consume these nutrients in the large intestine and may occasionally lead to belly bloating in some people. The best way to prevent this bloating is by gradually increasing the amount of oatmeal in your meal.

Difficulty to Chew

Oats are difficult to chew and swallow as compared to other foods. If you face problems swallowing or chewing, it is best to avoid eating oatmeal. Oats, if not adequately chewed, take a long time to digest. In addition, it may cause oats to block your intestine. It is better to choose other healthy alternatives if you face problems swallowing and chewing oats. In such cases, oats can be used in flour or added to smoothies.

Portion Size

Oatmeal has up to 50-60 grams of carbohydrates. Though the majority of harm done by carbohydrates gets counteracted by the other nutrients in oatmeal, one still needs to exercise moderation while having oatmeal. Taking small servings consistently over a long time can help maximise benefits and minimise side effects.


Including oatmeal in your diet will prove to be highly helpful, especially if you have diabetes. It has high nutritional value as it contains a reasonable amount of fibres and minerals. In addition, oatmeal has a low glycemic index, which does not cause spikes in sugar levels. In addition to helping manage diabetes, oatmeal has other health benefits like lowering cholesterol levels, preventing cardiovascular diseases and preventing weight gain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Q. Can oatmeal cause diabetes?

A. ½ cup of oatmeal has about 50-60 grams of carbohydrates depending upon the type and processing. Though it may seem a lot on the face of it, you must note that about 8-10 grams of it come from dietary fibre, which helps control spikes of sugar. Instant oatmeal, which is laden with added sugar, can cause diabetes. Or eating a lot in a single sitting can also cause an increase in sugar levels. One can keep the following steps in mind so that oatmeal does not cause diabetes: Do not use sweetened oatmeal. Do not add too much fruit for flavour. Also, avoid adding too many natural sweeteners like honey. Avoid using cream in your oatmeal. Take small servings.  

Q. Does oatmeal reverse diabetes?

A. Oatmeals can be a helpful addition to a diabetic’s diet. In addition, oatmeals have a low glycemic index (which measures how fast a food releases sugar in the blood) of about 55. It means that consuming oatmeal does not cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. In addition, oatmeals are high in fibre content. Therefore, it helps prevent spikes in blood sugar levels and fulfils the daily ideal fibre intake. Further, oatmeal is highly nutritious and contains reasonable amounts of proteins and minerals that help maintain overall health.  

Q. Are oatmeal cookies healthy?

A. Yes. Oatmeal cookies are slightly better than refined flour cookies depending on the percentage of oats present in them. Since they have sugar and butter in regular amounts, it will not be a completely healthy choice and should be taken in moderation. But they are a healthy substitute for refined flour cookies. Here are some reasons: Oatmeal cookies have high fibre content, which is not present in standard sugar cookies. In addition, oatmeal cookies have high mineral content. They are rich in magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and potassium. These minerals are not present in sugar cookies. Oatmeal cookies also help in healthy muscle building. On the other hand, sugar cookies have few health benefits than merely satisfying one’s sweet tooth.

Q. Are oatmeal pancakes healthy?

A. Yes, oatmeal pancakes are healthy. They are much more beneficial than regular refined flour pancakes. A single serving of an oatmeal pancake has 200 calories, 9 grams of fats, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of fibre. To make it tasty, a touch of vanilla extracts and cinnamon can be helpful. Also, you can add toppings like nut butter, low sugar jams, and sliced bananas to make it healthier.

Q. Can oatmeal cause colic in babies?

A. No. Instead, oats are beneficial for babies. They are highly nutritious, rich in fibre, and good for the baby’s overall health. At the same time, they are easy to digest foods. In addition, oats are natural laxatives to help prevent constipation.    

Q. How does oatmeal affect blood sugar?

A. Oatmeals have a low glycemic index of about 55. It means that consuming oatmeal does not cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. In addition, oatmeals are high in fibre content and help prevent spikes in blood sugar levels and fulfil the daily ideal fibre intake. So, in general, oatmeals keep blood sugar at manageable levels. However, one should be wary of instant oatmeal laden with artificial sweeteners. It can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels. Moderation during eating is vital if you want to keep your diabetes in control. The same spikes in sugar levels can happen if you overeat oatmeal in a single meal.   

Q. Are eggs good for diabetics?

A. Eggs are good food for diabetics. A large egg contains just about 0.5 grams of sugar. It means that eggs will not increase your blood sugar levels beyond manageable levels. Experts suggest that even diabetics can enjoy up to 12 eggs per week. Eggs have various other health benefits too. They are a rich source of protein (about 7 grams) and hence highly nutritious. An egg has just 80 calories, so there is less risk of gaining weight due to them. Lutein in eggs helps in developing the immune system. Choline helps in improving brain health. Biotin, which is present in the yolk of eggs, keeps hair, skin and nails healthy and stimulates insulin production. 

Q. Do oatmeal baths help eczema?

A. Eczema causes the skin to become red and itchy. This condition has no cure, but you can manage its symptoms. According to a study, oatmeal baths can help reduce symptoms of eczema. It is because oatmeal has many qualities that make it helpful in relieving eczema. Oatmeal is an emollient. It means that it holds moisture against the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that provide relief in eczema.

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