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Have you had your oats lately?

Oats often get overlooked due to their high carb content, but they are packed with nutrition and the complex carbs our bodies need. Oatmeal is actually one of the most powerful breakfast foods of them all. If you’re looking to establish healthier eating habits, make sure to embrace oatmeal as part of your diet.

Oatmeal is the perfect meal to start your day because it boosts your energy and has plenty of fiber to keep you full and satisfied. Oatmeal breaks down slowly in the stomach, giving you long-lasting energy. It’s also full of water-soluble fibers, which play a crucial role in making you feel full over a longer period of time. Studies have also shown that oatmeal reduces cholesterol, maintains blood sugar levels, and fights against heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity.

If you want to add some powerful antioxidants (and deliciousness) to your oatmeal, simply throw on some blueberries or raspberries. These tasty fruits are packed with antioxidants that fight against heart disease, cancer, and a multitude of other ailments. Blueberries rate among the highest in antioxidants out of over 40 fruits and vegetables. (If you are making overnight oats, just toss these on when you are ready to eat.) With a powerhouse combination of oats and berries, what more could you ask for from the first meal of your day?

However, oatmeal doesn’t have to be for breakfast only. You could use it a couple hours before you exercise to energize your workout. You could even include oats in your smoothies. Oats are also a wonderful addition to muffins and protein balls, and even as a covering for chicken breasts. And it’s super easy to make up a batch of homemade granola using rolled oats, 100% maple syrup, nuts, and seeds.

When buying oatmeal, be sure to read the labels. Many of the pre-packaged varieties are loaded with added sugar, so stick to the unsweetened, unflavored varieties. To spice your oatmeal up a little, top with bananas, berries, milk, nuts, seeds, cinnamon, or raw honey.

If you’re looking for oatmeal with a little more texture than rolled oats, try the steel cut variety, which is my favorite. Although some instant varieties of steel cut are now available, steel cut oats generally take longer to cook. But they are well worth the wait due to their chewier texture and heartier flavor. Once you try steel cut, you may never go back to rolled.

If you’re having trouble with late night binges, have a bowl of oatmeal instead. This will help squash your cravings and provide you with good nutrition over junk food and empty calories.

Consider alternating your morning meals between oatmeal and fruit some days and eggs or tofu with veggies other days. Mixing it up like this helps put your fat burning into overdrive and keeps your nutrition well balanced.

Whatever you do, be sure to sow (or just eat) your oats!