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The cereals are one of the most attractive food groups in the infant diet, both for its content in macronutrients and micronutrients. Oats are, within them, one of the healthiest that we can offer our children. Do you want to know why it should be present in your child's diet and what is really the importance of oats in the diet of children?
Oats contain minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, and when consumed unrefined, they also have a large amount of fiber and all this in a not too high amount of calories (mainly from complex carbohydrates).
It is a cereal with a lot of advantages for the health of children and adults, but that we sometimes overlook. Attentive to everything that oats can contribute to your benefit!
- Stop obesity
One of the main nutritional benefits of oats is its carbohydrate content. Oats have a carbohydrate content of more than 65%, of which only 1% are made up of simple carbohydrates or simple sugars, the rest are polysaccharides such as starch and fiber.
Simple carbohydrates are not highly recommended in children's diets, due to their close relationship with obesity among other diseases, and their contribution should be limited to a maximum of 10% of daily energy, so oats have an ideal composition.
- Promotes intestinal transit
In addition, the starch of oats, unlike that of other cereals, has a higher fat content, increasing the attractiveness of this cereal since it makes it even more complete (it contains all three groups of macronutrients). Additionally, a part of the starch present in oats is not digested, performing physiological functions similar to those of fiber, such as, for example, stimulate intestinal transit, protecting against constipation.
- Perfect for diabetic children
Fiber, for its part, can be soluble and insoluble. Oats contain more soluble fiber than other cereals, making their digestion slower and the release of the energy derived from their consumption more progressive, ideal for children with diabetes. The soluble fiber in oats helps balance blood sugar levels, reducing the need for insulin.
- Helps reduce cholesterol
Aventa, due to its content, increases the excretion of bile salts and reduces cholesterol, especially LDL (known as bad cholesterol), thus protecting against coronary heart disease. Bile salts are responsible for eliminating potentially toxic compounds for the body, such as drug residues, as well as bilirubin and cholesterol, preventing them from accumulating both in the blood and in the fatty tissues of the body.
- Protects against cancer
Oats serve as a means of elimination of some carcinogenic substances, thus protecting against some types of cancer. They are an ideal medium for establishing beneficial health bacteria in the colon, which are very useful because they produce vitamin K and help eliminate potentially carcinogenic substances.
- Excellent for the child's academic performance
They have a great satiating power, that is, the child will not need to peck after having a good bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. First, because you will not feel hungry, and second, because the calories provided will be released slowly and as they are needed, which can be a benefit for your academic performance.
- Ally in development and growth
As for its minerals, the manganese content stands out, although it also contains others in not inconsiderable quantities, such as phosphorus, copper, selenium, iron, zinc or magnesium. Manganese, in addition to being part of bones and tissues, is of great importance when reaching adolescence, as it is involved in the creation of many of the hormones involved in development. In addition, some studies have revealed that low levels of manganese in the diet could affect brain function and neural connections, making learning difficult.
- Antioxidant power
Another attraction of oats is its antioxidant power, which lies in the presence of specific compounds that, like avenanthramides, bind to the already known polyphenols. Antioxidants protect against free radicals, which, in addition to increasing the risk of many types of cancer, increase the risk of cellular diseases and premature aging. Additionally, avenanthramides, as revealed by scientific studies, have even more beneficial effects on health.
Some of the benefits of oats that are currently being studied - although they do not yet have completely conclusive results - are very interesting for children. On the one hand, it highlights its potential to prevent the onset of asthma and, on the other, its ability to increase the strength of the immune system when dealing with microbiological infections.
Oatmeal is one of the few cereals that is gluten-free, but it does contain a protein that is very similar, avenin. Although many celiacs perfectly tolerate oats, it is better to introduce this ingredient with caution in the diet of celiac babies, until you know if you will develop a cross-reaction to avenin.
In addition to the potential negative effects for celiac intolerant to avenin, There are also other drawbacks in its consumption. Raw oats, unsoaked or uncooked, dry, should not be consumed and even less offered to a baby boy, particularly due to the starch and phytates.
The starch present in oats is very difficult to digest if consumed dry, and can cause stomach pain and even abdominal cramps in children. The liquid in which the oats are soaked or cooked facilitates the digestion of the starch, softening the membranes and facilitating their breakdown.
The already broken starch, upon reaching the stomach, goes from being a large chain of polysaccharides to small portions of sugars. These small sugars or monosaccharides are what serve to feed the cells of the body.
On the other hand, oats contain phytates, which are a disadvantage for the absorption of certain minerals. Phytates are structures that include minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium or manganese, making them inaccessible to the body. The structure that combines the phytate and the mineral is unable to reach the blood, being lost in the feces. The process of soaking or cooking oats, in addition to facilitating the digestion of starch, removes much of the phytates, so cooking or soaking oats is essential to obtain the maximum benefit from this cereal.
Surely after having read all the advantages of incorporate oats into your children's diet, you may be wondering, how do I include it in my dishes? Here are some ideas!
- Porridge oats
If you have a small child (oatmeal is a cereal that can be introduced from 6 months of age when starting complementary feeding), you can add it in porridge or porridge. It is a cereal that, like rice, for example, takes a relatively long time to cook. Semi-processed varieties (slightly refined to facilitate the process) can be found on the market that require little or no cooking, simply soaking in hot water or milk.
- Oatmeal in stews
If the child is older, oatmeal can be used in well-grated flakes, as a substitute for breadcrumbs, both to coat and to add to stews to thicken or to the same meatballs, slightly reducing the caloric content of the batter, but above all, reducing the amount of sodium.
Sodium is one of the most troublesome minerals in the infant diet, since it is usually added in excess, not only because we sometimes add too much salt to meals, but because children have a special tendency to consume too much salty snacks.
- Fruit + oats: a perfect combination
They can also be added to smoothies or juices, so fashionable today. The combination of oats and fruits makes these juices –including the fruit pulp, of course- a very powerful nutritious cocktail that can perfectly substitute a breakfast or a children's snack, since it provides controlled-release energy, vitamins and minerals.
- Oatmeal in salad
The refined oat flakes –which do not need hydration-, can be added to the salad, thus increasing its caloric potential and making the vegetable dish something much more nutritionally complete and suitable for vegetarians / vegans. The salad - only with vegetable products - may be insufficient to cover the energy needs of the child, since, for this, they would need to consume very high amounts. However, adding oatmeal solves this small inconvenience.
- Oatmeal Cookies
In addition, both as flour and in flakes, oats can be used as an ingredient in the preparation of homemade cookies, muffins or cakes, and also energy bars, providing all its benefits.
- Other dish with oats
Oatmeal can also be used as a substitute for wheat flour, to thicken dishes and sauces or even to cook a béchamel sauce and as an ingredient in doughs that do not require heavy leavening, such as to make a homemade pizza.
After everything we've told you, are you ready to start incorporate this cereal in the diet of your children, but also in yours?
You can read more articles similar to The importance of oats in the diet of children, in the Infant Nutrition On-Site category.