January is a month when many adults take stock of their lives and make plans to support a healthier, more fulfilling year. And for some, lifestyle changes start in the kitchen where good meal planning can help older adults drop a few pounds, increase energy or improve heart health. And whether you eat breakfast or wait until mid-day to have your first meal, oatmeal done right can lower your cholesterol by as much as 5 to 8 percent.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, 1.5 cups of oatmeal each day can lower cholesterol thanks to a specific type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, also found in beans, oranges and pears. Oatmeal also contains insoluble fiber, also found in the skin of many fruits, which helps keep us regular. Fiber-rich foods help to make us feel fuller and may promote weight loss.
But, be careful not to undo the health benefits of oatmeal by eating too much; one cooked cup has 158 calories. Adding sugar, heavy cream or too many toppings like dried fruit can also bump up the calories and sabotage your healthy intentions. Stick to a small amount of natural sweeteners like maple syrup or honey, fresh fruit or a sprinkle of cinnamon or cocoa powder.
In the grocery store, look for plain instant oatmeal or if you have a little extra time, rolled or steel-cut oats, which are less processed and absorb more water making them a more filling choice. Add a cup of fresh fruit and some nuts, greek yogurt, flax seeds or protein powder to keep you satisfied all morning.
Eating more whole grains can also lower the risk of diabetes and colorectal cancer. To make eating more oatmeal easy, try rolled overnight oats soaked in the fridge, an oatmeal bake with fresh berries or cooking steel cut oats in your Instant Pot. Here’s a recipe to get you started.
- 2 cups steel-cut oats, gluten-free, if necessary
- 6 cups water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 medium ripe bananas
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 cup milk of your choice, nut, soy or skim
- 8 teaspoons pure maple syrup or honey
- ground cinnamon, for topping
Combine the steel cut oats and water in the bowl of your Instant Pot and stir.
Add the cinnamon sticks, cover and cook 6 minutes on high pressure.
Allow the pressure to naturally release.
Remove the cinnamon sticks and discard and stir in blueberries.
To serve, pour 1 cup of oats in each bowl, and top each with 2 tablespoons milk, 1/2 sliced banana, drizzle with 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup and finish with a pinch of cinnamon.
Leftovers can be refrigerated in glass or plastic containers. To reheat, microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, until warm then add toppings.