Is porridge the ultimate healthy breakfast?
Mr R recently purchased of a bag of porridge. Not just any old bag of porridge, but rather a 25kg monster of a bag. Not only was there no space for it in our kitchen cupboards, in fact it simply wouldn’t fit in a cupboard at all – it reached up to my waist. Now admittedly I am only 5 foot 2 (when I stretch) but non-the-less as bags of porridge go it was huge!
So why did my darling husband purchase enough porridge to feed a small school. Well, he’d read ‘somewhere on the internet’ it was the healthiest breakfast!
I often find that we are bombarded with lots of information about how to stay healthy. Some of this information is excellent and accurate, but others not so much. I’m now going to take a few minutes to explore some health claims about porridge to ascertain whether it really is such a healthy breakfast.
Health benefits of eating porridge
Here are some of the claims you might find on the internet around the health benefits of porridge:
- Porridge keeps your blood sugar stable due to its low glycaemic index. This is often reported as meaning you will not experience an energy slump after eating it which is linked to both improved concentration and a lessening of the need for mid morning snacking.
1 minute extra information: Glycaemic index is a number that represents the total rise in blood sugar level following consumption of a particular food. Usually foods with carbohydrate that break down quickly have a higher glcaemic index. 100 represents pure glucose. If you want to do further reading Wikipedia has an excellent summary!
Essentially the glycemic index of porridge depends on the type of oats from which it is made. According to a publication from Harvard medical school instant porridge, or oatmeal as its referred to in USA, has a glycaemic index of 83 which is higher than cocacola! Large oats have a much lower GI index. Therefore, this particular health claim is very dependant on the type of porridge you choose.
- Porridge helps you feel fuller for longer due to its fibre content.
1 minute extra information: Porridge does have a good fibre content. Jumbo porridge oats, similar to the type we eat, have around 11g per 100g. The recommended average intake for adults is 18g per day. Fibre may enhance a feeling of fullness. Fibre content is also important for several other things including maintaining regular bowels!
- Porridge can help you loose weight.
1 minute extra information. The calorie content of a bowl of porridge is roughly comparable to many other popular breakfast cereals. Have a look at weight loss resources if you’d like more details. Obviously the aim of loosing weight is to create a calories deficit. Since porridge may enhance a feeling of fullness some people find they are less inclined to snack mid-morning. However, it is important to remember the calorie content of porridge can be drastically changed with the addition of milk or toppings. 45g porridge made with water contains approximately 166 calories. Porridge with 200ml of semiskimmed milk (102 calories) and a couple of teaspoons of honey (44 calories each) and this almost doubles the calorie content. Therefore, porridge may help some people control their weight but if this is your aim you’ll have to be careful about other additions to the oats!
4. Porridge contains lot of protein
1 minute extra information: Porridge has a good protien content compared to many other cereals, around 11g per 100g. For comparison rice krispies have around 2g and cornflakes 7g of protein per 100g. However, there are many other options for a breakfast containing protein, for example delicious smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.
5. ‘Porridge could be the key to a long a health life’ says a recent headline from The Telegraph.
1 minute extra information: This is based on a large study from the US, does suggest that a diet containing wholegrains reduces the risk of death, particularly from heart disease. For more detailed information on this study there is an excellent article here from the NHS website.
However it is important to note that wholegrains do include porridge but also brown rice, quinoa, barley and buckwheat.
6. Porridge is good for your bank balance!
1 minute extra information: Not really a health benefit as such, but for us as a family, it is good for our budget. Our massive 25kg bag cost £24. If we all ate 100g between us 3 times a week it is set to last around a year and a half. A very generous 50g serving works out at 4.8p per serving! (not including milk).
30 Second Summary: Porridge really does seem to be a healthy choice for breakfast, however the health benefits do depend on the type of oats and variety of toppings added.