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Oatcake anyone?

The virtues of oatcakes – or how to ditch your bread addiction!

Replacing your usual slice of bread with an oatcake can have a number of benefits not only to your general health but to your waistline too.

Before I trained as a nutritional therapist, I had never bought a packet of oatcakes in my life. Now they have become a staple in my food cupboard, and I’ve never looked back.

Let’s have a look at the benefits of these humble but noorish nibbles:

1. As the name suggests, oatcakes are made from oats, which are packed with both soluble and insoluble fibre. This helps to promote healthy digestion and allows us to feel fuller for longer.

2. They also contain a particular type of fibre known as beta-glucan which is known to reduce the bad type of cholesterol in our blood thus reducing our risk of coronary heart disease.

3. Beta-glucans have also been shown to reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, which is great news for anyone concerned about diabetes. Oatcakes

4. Studies have also shown a link between the consumption of oats and reduced colorectal cancer (due to the fibre content).

5. Oatcakes also have a high mineral content especially manganese and phosphorous and are excellent for maintaining our energy levels. They also have a low glycaemic index which makes them helpful in managing blood glucose, especially if topped with a good quality protein/fat such as a nut butter.

Why scrap the wheat?

For many of us wheat-based breads have become problematic. Complaints around bloating, IBS, eczema, depression and tiredness to name but a few have all been linked in many scientific studies to the consumption of wheat. When you consider that way in which wheat is processed nowadays then you will understand that the supermarket breads we are eating are nothing like the bread our grandparents used to eat. For example, often it is made from hybridized grains which contain 30% more gluten than earlier generations were exposed to… you can perhaps see why so many people are removing wheat and or gluten from their diets.

By replacing a poor quality bread with limited nutrient value and some potential disadvantages with something more nutrient dense and with a good source of both soluble and insoluble fibre can be a huge asset for maintaining health. There are of course many alternatives to wheat breads such as rye, spelt, amaranth and quinoa. Look out for these breads when doing your weekly shop next time.

However, for now, let's keep it simple. Oatcakes are delicious and portable. You can carry them in your handbag/briefcase to work or out for lunch. They are delicious with soups so you are not tempted to pick up that bread. You can add any topping you like as you would a sandwich or have along with a bag of salad (NOT one of those terrible carb-ridden pasta salads but a packet of greens or egg or other protein such as salmon in with your salad). Ideally make your salad at home with lots of veg and some protein, either meats, fish or veggie source such as lentils or quinoa.

For snacking, they are ideal and can be enjoyed with some nut butters (try almond, cashew and pumpkinseed) or some pâté or hummus. You will find that you only need one and are ready for action with sustained energy! Similarly, they are great as a bedtime snack to keep you going through the night.

For breakfast you could replace that toast habit with oatcakes and an egg or try oats as a porridge topped with nuts and seeds and a few berries. Because they’re so easy to carry around and are so versatile means that if you are in a rush, just make a boiled egg the night before (or while you’re under the shower!) and take your egg to work with some oatcakes to have when you get there. (Far better than downing some cereal or a croissant!)

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