Is Oats Good For Diabetics ? Glycemic Index of Oats

Reviewed By Dietitian Dt. SEEMA GOEL (Senior Dietitian, 25 Years of Experience) November 28, 2023

Oats are cultivated worldwide and continue to be a breakfast option for millions. These whole grains are not just a delicious addition to your morning routine but also pack a nutritional punch that benefits your overall well-being. Often overlooked in their simplicity, they hold a remarkable potential for managing diabetes. Read on to find out why is oatmeal good for diabetics. Get tips on how to make the most of your daily bowl of oats and avoid common mistakes that might impact their health benefits.

What are Oats?

Oats, scientifically known as Avena sativa, are classified as whole grains, meaning they contain all parts of the grain kernel – the bran, germ, and endosperm. It’s this complete package that makes oats a nutrient-rich choice. The outer layer, or bran, is loaded with fibre, while the germ contains essential vitamins and minerals. The endosperm, the innermost part, provides a good source of carbohydrates. Together, these components contribute to the overall health benefits of oats.

Oats come in various forms, each with its own unique texture and culinary uses. Let’s take a look at which oats is best for diabetes?

  • Rolled Oats: These oats are steamed and then flattened with large rollers, making them quicker to cook. Rolled oats are a popular choice for oatmeal and baking.
  • Steel-Cut Oats: Also known as Irish or Scottish oats, these are made by cutting the whole oat groat into pieces with steel blades. Steel-cut oats have a hearty, chewy texture and are a great option for those who prefer a less processed grain.
  • Instant Oats: These oats are pre-cooked and then dried, allowing for very quick preparation. While convenient, they may have a softer texture compared to other varieties.
  • Oat Flour: Ground from whole oats, oat flour is a versatile option for baking and cooking. It adds a nutty flavour and a boost of nutrition to various recipes.

Read More: Is Mushroom Good for Diabetes Patients?

Is Oats Good for Diabetes Patients?

Yes, definitely, oats for diabetes patients are a healthy food they can go for. Oats have a good amount of fiber and have a low glycemic profile. According to USDA, in 81 grams of oats, there are around 8.1 grams of dietary fiber. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, fiber delays the absorption of carbs. It prevents abrupt blood sugar spikes, which is ideal and favourable for diabetes patients. Moreover, oats are low GI food and are very low in trans & saturated fats and sugar. However, do remember diabetes patients should opt for plain traditional oats and not go for flavoured sweetened varieties available. 

Oats make a good breakfast meal and snacking option for diabetes patients. The best oat recipe for diabetes patients is vegetable oatmeal.

Which Oats Are Good for Diabetes Patients?

Navigating through the endless variety of oats in the market, you may find it difficult to figure it the variety that is best for diabetes patients. Today, you will find oats laden with sugar, preservatives, chemicals, etc. All the flavoured oats available in the market especially belong to this category. For diabetes patients, unflavoured steel-cut oats are the best. They are manufactured with the least amount of processing and contain no added sugar. The following are the healthiest oats available in the market for diabetes patients:

Healthy Sugar-Free Oats

  • True Elements Steel Cut Oats
  • Baggry Steel Cut Oats
  • Yogabar Steel Cut Oats
  • Jiwa Steel Cut Oats
  • DiSano Oats
  • Urban Platter Fine Oats Flour

Nutritional Value of Oats 

Nutritional Value of Oats. is oatmeal good for diabetics

Let’s take a look at the nutritional values of oats, breaking down key nutrients and shedding light on the health benefits they offer.

Here are the nutritional values of oats according to the U.S.D.A. (Per 1 Cup – 81 grams, Raw):

Nutrients  Amount
Calories 307
Water 8.7g
Protein 10.7g
Carbs 54.8g
Sugar 0.8g
fibre 8.1g
Fat 5.3g
  • Protein: With 10.7 grams of protein per cup, oats provide a satisfying source of energy without causing a blood sugar spike. Protein also aids in maintaining muscle mass, making it an essential component for those with diabetes.
  • Carbohydrates: Oats offer a complex carbohydrate profile (54.8 grams per cup), promoting sustained energy release. This slow-burning fuel helps manage blood sugar levels, preventing sudden spikes and crashes that can be problematic for individuals with diabetes.
  • Fibre: High in fibre (8.1 grams per cup), oats become a valuable ally for diabetes management. The soluble fibre in oats helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of glucose and improving insulin sensitivity.
  • Low Sugar Content: At only 0.8 grams of sugar per cup, oats provide a naturally sweet option without causing significant fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
  • Heart-Healthy Fats: Oats contain 5.3 grams of fat per cup, predominantly consisting of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. These fats contribute to cardiovascular health, a crucial consideration for individuals with diabetes who often face an increased risk of heart-related issues.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Oats are a source of essential minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron, contributing to overall health and well-being.

 Read More: 16 Best Fruits Juice For Diabetes.

Oats and Glycemic Index

Whether oats is good for diabetes can be better understood by looking at the glycemic index of oats. The glycemic index is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-containing foods based on their impact on blood sugar levels. Foods with a higher GI are rapidly digested and cause a quicker spike in blood sugar, while those with a lower GI are digested more slowly, leading to a gradual rise in blood sugar levels. According to Medical News Today, oats are low-glycemic foods. Steel-cut oats, with a GI score of about 53, and rolled oats, with a GI of about 57, fall into the low to medium range on the glycemic index scale. This means they are slowly digested, providing a sustained release of glucose into the bloodstream.

Benefits of Oats for Diabetes Patients

Benefits of Oats for Diabetes Patients. Is oatmeal good for diabetics

This wholesome grain offers a range of health benefits tailored to the needs of those with diabetes. Let’s delve deeper into the benefits of oats for diabetes patients.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Oats’ moderate to high fibre content (8.1g per cup) contributes significantly to stable blood sugar levels. The glycemic index of steel-cut oats (53) and rolled oats (57) ensures a slow and controlled release of glucose, preventing abrupt spikes in blood sugar.

Insulin Sensitivity Improvement

Soluble fibre in oats, such as beta-glucans, has been shown to enhance insulin sensitivity. Research suggests that a diet rich in soluble fibre may improve insulin resistance, a key factor in type 2 diabetes management.

Cardiovascular Health and Cholesterol Management

A 2018 research review by the National Institute of Health highlighted that oats might contribute to lowering overall cholesterol levels, particularly low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Reduced Need for Insulin Injections

Consuming oats instead of other carbohydrate-rich breakfast foods reduced the postprandial glucose response, potentially lessening the need for insulin injections.

Quick and Easy Meal Option

Creating quick and easy meals is a fundamental aspect of managing a busy lifestyle, especially for individuals with diabetes who aim to maintain a balanced and health-conscious diet. Oats, with their adaptability and convenience, emerge as a stellar ingredient that effortlessly integrates into meal planning, offering a variety of options for those seeking efficient yet nutritious choices.

Sustained Energy and Weight Management

The long-lasting energy provided by oats is attributed to their complex carbohydrates and fibre, supporting individuals in managing their weight effectively. Incorporating fibre-rich foods like oats into a diabetes-friendly diet may aid in weight loss or maintenance, contributing to better overall health.

Digestive Health

Oats, with their fibre content, promote digestive health by preventing constipation and supporting a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiota is associated with improved metabolic health.

Read More: Can Diabetes Patients Eat Oranges?

Tasty Oats Recipes for Diabetes Patients

The versatility and simplicity of oats in meal planning provide a practical solution for individuals with diabetes seeking convenient yet health-conscious options. From breakfast to snacks and main meals, oats offer a reliable and nutritious foundation for those navigating the complexities of diabetes management within the constraints of a busy lifestyle. Here are some recipes including oats for diabetic patients.

Speedy Breakfast Recipe

Oats shine as a go-to ingredient for breakfast, providing a quick and nutritious start to the day. Whether in the form of a comforting bowl of oatmeal, overnight oats prepared the night before, or incorporated into a smoothie, oats for sugar patient offer versatility in crafting breakfasts tailored to their individual tastes and dietary requirements.

Breathe Well-Being’s Recommendation: We recommend the vegetable oatmeal recipe, which has more amount of fiber due to the inclusion of green veggies.

Vegetable oatmeal recipe

Soak oats in water for 15 to 30 minutes. Use one tablespoon of mustard or olive oil and heat. Add ½ teaspoon of cumin (jeera). Add chopped onions (½ cup) and 1 tablespoon of ginger garlic paste. Add chopped veggies. Add masala (Kitchen King or Meat masala) and salt. Add oats and a proportionate amount of water. Cook for 10-15 minutes on low flame. Garnish with oregano and chopped coriander leaves.
This oats recipe is better than the traditional milk oatmeal recipe. You can also buy Saffola Masala Oats, which is readily available in grocery stores. It has greater fiber content and has no use of dairy products which are to be avoided by diabetes patients.

Portable Snacking

Oats lend themselves well to portable and on-the-go snack options. Energy bars, granola bites, or homemade oat-based snacks are not only quick to prepare but also provide sustained energy. This way, oats control blood sugar levels throughout the day.

Lunch and Dinner Simplicity

Oats can seamlessly be incorporated into lunch and dinner recipes, adding both nutritional value and a hearty texture. Oat-based salads, savoury oatmeal bowls with vegetables and lean proteins, or using oats as a coating for baked or grilled dishes are excellent examples of how oats can be effortlessly integrated into main meals.

Batch Cooking for Convenience

One of the advantages of oats is their suitability for batch cooking. Preparing a large quantity of oats and refrigerating or freezing them in portions can streamline meal preparation. This ensures that a nutritious and diabetes-friendly option is readily available, minimising the temptation to opt for less healthy, convenient alternatives.

Customisation for Dietary Preferences

Oats offers a blank canvas for customisation, accommodating various dietary preferences and restrictions. Whether following a plant-based diet, incorporating dairy alternatives, or adding fruits and nuts, oats can be tailored to suit individual tastes and preferences while adhering to specific dietary needs associated with diabetes management.

Affordability and Accessibility

Oats are widely available and cost-effective, making them an accessible choice for individuals from various socioeconomic backgrounds. This affordability ensures that a nutritious and quick meal option is within reach for a broad spectrum of people managing diabetes.

Read More: Is Coconut Milk Good for Diabetics?

Oats Side Effects for Diabetes Patients

Incorporating oats into the diet of individuals managing diabetes comes with numerous benefits, but it’s crucial to approach it with awareness and consideration. Monitoring your body’s response, practising portion control, and being cautious of added sugars in flavoured oat products are essential steps in enjoying the goodness of oats while managing diabetes effectively. As always, consulting with healthcare professionals can provide personalised guidance on integrating oats into your diabetes-friendly lifestyle.


Oats stand out as a diabetes-friendly dietary choice, offering a range of potential benefits. From their ability to regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity to contributing to heart health and aiding in weight management, oats prove to be a versatile and nutritious addition to the diets of individuals managing diabetes.

However, the key lies in balance and moderation. While oats bring a host of advantages, it’s essential to be mindful of portion sizes, especially in flavoured oat products that may contain added sugars. A balanced approach to incorporating oats into a well-rounded diet ensures that the positive impact on blood sugar levels is maximised while avoiding potential pitfalls.

Read More: Indian Diet for Diabetes Reversal.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Question)

Are oats with milk good for diabetes?

Yes, oats with milk can be a good choice for diabetics. However, it’s crucial to opt for plain oats to avoid added sugars. Adding milk provides additional protein and can enhance the nutritional value of the meal.

Can a diabetic eat oatmeal for breakfast?

Absolutely! Oatmeal is a popular and nutritious breakfast option for people with diabetes. Choose plain oats and consider adding healthy toppings such as berries or nuts to enhance flavour and nutritional value.

Can diabetics eat oats every day?

Yes, diabetics can include oats in their daily diet. Oats are a rich source of fibre and have a low glycemic index, making them a suitable and heart-healthy option for regular consumption.

Can pre-diabetics eat oatmeal?

Certainly. Oatmeal can be part of a balanced diet for people with prediabetes. Its fibre content helps regulate blood sugar levels, making it a smart choice for those working towards preventing the progression to diabetes.

Can you eat oatmeal if you have diabetes?

Yes, people with diabetes can enjoy oatmeal as part of a well-managed diet. Be mindful of the type of oats you have  and avoid flavoured varieties with added sugars.

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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