When you think of holidays that occur this time of year, chances are your thoughts turn to Halloween, including the pumpkins, ghouls, and of course, candy, that go along with it. This day may be a bit less colorful—but it's also a whole lot healthier. So in honor of National Oatmeal Day, which is today, here are seven things you ought to know about this amazing grain.
|It's a whole grain|
Oats are processed in a way that doesn't strip off the nutritious bran or germ, so you get all of that whole-grain goodness. And even though oatmeal is processed in different ways (like "steel cut" and "old fashioned") they all maintain the bran and germ. The difference is just in how they are milled—for steel-cut oats, the grains are run through steel blades that thinly slice them, while old-fashioned oats are steamed and then rolled to produce a flatter shape. They are similar nutritionally (as in, good for you!), although steel-cut oats take longer to cook and may have a bit more fiber.
|It really does reduce cholesterol|
The type of fiber found in oats is called beta-glucan. And studies have found that eating 3 grams of oat fiber per day (about the amount in a one-cup serving) can lower total cholesterol by 8 percent to 23 percent.
|It contains unique antioxidants|
We all know that antioxidants are good for us. But we mostly think about getting them from fruits and veggies. Well, turns out, your daily bowl of oatmeal is a superfood too--it can provide a heaping dose of them—compounds called avenanthramides.
|It may fight inflammation|
Chronic inflammation is thought to contribute to a number of health problems, including obesity, cancer, and heart disease. But research suggests that avenanthramides—which are unique to oats—can reduce the expression of those inflammatory molecules.
|A bowl for breakfast can keep you full till lunch|
The beta-glucan in oatmeal is famous for stabilizing blood sugar. And because it helps you avoid those blood sugar highs and lows, having a bowl first thing in the morning can keep cravings at bay. Plus, oatmeal may enhance your workout. A UK study found that eating oatmeal about three hours before exercise helped boost endurance.
|It's good for your heart|
The label doesn't sport that heart-healthy claim for nothing. Numerous studies have confirmed oatmeal's role in reducing the risk of heart disease. In a 2003 study that looked at dietary habits of nearly 10,000 American adults, those who ate the most fiber (about 21 grams) a day had a 10% to 12% lower risk of strokes and heart attacks than those eating only 5 grams a day.
|Oats may reduce your risk of cancer|
The American Cancer Society recommends eating a high-fiber diet (including whole grains like oats) to reduce your risk of cancer, including colon cancer. One 2007 study in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that premenopausal women who ate diets rich in fiber had about half the risk of breast cancer as those who ate less fiber.
7 Fun Oatmeal Facts for National Oatmeal Day originally appeared on Health.com.