ThePaleoList Answers:  Are Oats Paleo?

are oats paleo?

Many of us have fond memories of enjoying a hot steaming bowl of oatmeal and brown sugar in those cold winter months growing up. These days you see oats in tons of “healthier” versions of recipes, but are they actually healthy? Are they Paleo?

What are Oats?

There are three standard types of oats: steel cut, rolled oats, and instant oats (oatmeal). Basically, steel cut oats are whole groats simply chopped into more manageable pieces. They contain the majority of the bran and are therefore whole grain. They take a bit longer to cook, but provide the highest concentration of nutrients (and anti-nutrients). Rolled oats are whole groats rolled flat to make them semi-processed and much faster to cook. The bran is discarded though, so most people would not qualify them as “whole grains.” And finally, instant oats are basically rolled and flattened again to process them a little further so they are ready to eat with just the addition of hot water. The bigger issue with instant oats is that they’re normally served in packets with tons of sugar and additives.

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Oats have a fairly decent nutritional profile, but one could wonder how accessible the minerals are without processing the grains, adding to the potential negative side effects. A 100 gram serving of oats contains:

  • 389 calories
  • 16.9 grams of protein
  • 10.6 grams fiber (with less than half soluble)
  • 66 grams carbohydrate
  • 7 grams fat (about half PUFA and half MUFA)
  • 177 mg magnesium
  • 4.72 mg iron
  • 3.97 mg zinc
  • 4.9 mg manganese
  • 0.6 mg copper

Are Oats or Oatmeal Paleo?

Technically, oats (Avena) are in the weed family as a cereal grain, which means, no, oats are not exactly Paleo. However, some Paleo dieters choose to add these easily digested grains in moderation, especially when craving starch and baked goods but trying not to overdo it with coconut and almond flours. If you do want to incorporate oats to your diet, like other grains, it is always recommended that you consume them fermented. This thread can guide you to a more Primal oatmeal recipe.

If you really want to get technical, back in the early ages of society, oats weren’t really part of the Paleo diet.  The diet primarily consisted of small game, nuts, and berries. Scientists have made a discovery that says we can add porridge to the paleo-friendly plate.  Historical researchers in Puglia, Italy, discovered tools –primarily stones — used to grind grains, which included oats and acorns into usable flours over 30,000. To date, it’s the oldest evidence of humans processing found in Europe.

So what did they do with their flour? Experts say that they probably mixed it with water and cooked it as porridge or cakes. That being said, if you want to know are oats paleo, if you’re not utilizing the oats as a flour and turning them into paleo porridges and pancakes, you might be doing the Paleolithic Diet all wrong.  Paleo relies on lowering the amount of grain intake because as a percentage of a paleolithic diet, grains didn’t make up a large portion of their diets.

Are you struggling with what’s Paleo and what isn’t?  Is it difficult to come up with Paleo meals?  Check out this great cookbook!

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