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Different Types of Oats

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In this Lesson you will Learn

  1. What is the difference between steel-cut oats and regular oats?
  2. Are steel-cut oats healthier than rolled oats?
  3. Are instant or quick oats unhealthy?
  4. How to make oat flour
  5. Are oats gluten free?

Oats are a grain commonly enjoyed as oatmeal or porridge, though they can also be ground into a flour, made into granola, or added to cookies, smoothies, etc.

There are of course numerous different types of oats. Oats can be purchased as whole "groats" (the whole oat kernel with the inedible part removed)1, but they are usually sold in a processed form, such as steel-cut oats, rolled oats, and quick or instant oats.

Steel-cut oats are made by splitting the whole oat groat into little pieces. Rolled oats, also called old-fashioned oats, are made by slicing and steaming the groats, pressing them flat, and drying them.2 Quick and instant oats have been pressed thinner so they cook faster.

Steel-cut oats, rolled oats, quick oats, and instant oats cook at different speeds, with steel-cut oats needing the most time and instant oats the least. Interestingly, all the different types of oats have about the same amount of fiber and other vitamins/minerals. Only instant oats are somewhat inferior nutritionally because they have a higher glycemic load. Nonetheless, you do not necessarily have to go for steel-cut oats if you prefer the taste of the others!3 Just make sure you aren't buying sugary versions with lots of added ingredients.

By the way, if a recipe calls for oat flour, you can easily grind your own in a blender.

Note for those with gluten intolerance: oats are naturally gluten free, but cross contamination with wheat (in the factory or in the field) is a real possibility. To be on the safe side, look for oats and oat flours that say they are gluten free on the box.4

Nutrition DNA

The nutrition DNA of oats. For example, you can see that 100g oats cover 182% of your daily need of Manganese and 42% of the recommended Selenium intake. Hover over the bars to see which nutrient is covered.


  1. Bob's Red Mill
  2. The Whole Food Bible
  3. Quick and Dirty Tips


  1. Steel-cut oats: the whole oat groat split into little pieces, Rolled oats: sliced, steamed, pressed, and dried groats, Quick/instant oats: same as above but pressed thinner
  2. All the different types of oats have similar nutritional information so one type is not necessarily healthier than the other so long as no sugar has been added.
  3. To make oat flour grind oats in a blender.
  4. Oats are naturally gluten free but cross contamination is possible so look for oats that say they are truly gluten free if you are very sensitive.
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