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You’ve seen them on the shelves, in recipes and on the breakfast table. But what is the real difference between these different kinds of oats? Is one healthier than the other?

The key difference is in the amount of processing that has been done to each. Steel-cut oats are cut from the whole oat groat (also known as the berries or hulled kernels). Rolled or Old-Fashioned oats are steamed then pressed to flatten the oat. The instant oats are pre-cooked, dried, rolled and then pressed. The more processing that has been done, the faster they cook.


Although the amount of processing is different, the nutritional value is practically the same in the three varieties. These three kinds of oats are all a great whole grain to incorporate into your diet, and most commonly into breakfast. Acting as a good source of fiber, oatmeal helps to lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Try them hot or cold, fresh cooked or prepared as overnight oats. Roll them into energy balls or homemade bars. Prep those steel cut oats in a big batch ahead on Sunday to last you throughout the week. And don’t forget to sprinkle on your favorite fresh fruits, nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, peanut butter, and more. Oats are a great dish that can be dressed up in a variety of ways to enjoy just the way you like them!

– Maggie Maier