Oats Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  11 min read
oat benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: oats are good for / help aid digestion, decrease the risk of childhood asthma, increase feelings of fullness, lower blood sugar levels, reduce itching, relieve constipation

Longevity: oats are good for / help detoxification, gut health, liver health, manage and prevent type 2 diabetes, protect the liver, reduce blood pressure levels, reduce inflammation, reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease

Appearance: oats are good for / help relieve symptoms of various skin conditions, including eczema, treat dry and itchy skin (when applied topically) reduce bloating, weight loss

Oats are…

a kids book about plant based eating
Teach Kids Where Our Food Comes From. Look Inside!

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: moderate, 2,536 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of oatmeal / 304 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of oatmeal

Carbon footprint: low, 0.31 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of dry oats, a car driving equivalent of 0.75 miles or 1.25 kilometers

Destruction: low, oat production is relatively sustainable, there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc., oats are especially valuable in sustainable crop rotation, help ensure sound cropping and soil conservation practice, an ideal low-input crop, encourages crop diversity to reduce soil erosion and control plant diseases, insects and weeds, reduce the need for herbicides, don’t deplete underground water aquifers, oat by-products can help replace fossil fuels in power generation

Oats are…

ANIMALS

Killed: none, oat production does not require any animals to be killed

Harmed: none, oat production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly killed or harmed: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from oat production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Oats are…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Oats…

Where does most oats come from?

The world’s top oat producing country is Russia, followed by Canada and Poland. The world’s top oat exporting country is Canada, followed by Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, Estonia, UK, Poland, Latvia, Germany and USA. Overall oats are planted in more than 70 countries world wide.

Are oats nutritious?

Yes! Oats are high in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, soluble fiber beta-glucan and antioxidants called avenanthramides.

oats are acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet to improve ph levels

Are oats alkaline or acidic? Oats are mildly acidic. What is the pH level of oats? Oats have a 6.5 pH level once digested.

When you eat food, it is broken down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

oats are gluten free but often cross-contaminated with wheat which is glutinous.

gluten free foods and what to eat on a gluten free diet

Are oats gluten free? Yes, oats are gluten free but often cross-contaminated with wheat which is glutinous. Be sure to buy oats specifically labeled gluten free if necessary.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include: recurring abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, tingling, numbness in hands and feet, chronic fatigue, joint pain, unexplained infertility and low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis).

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

oats are not a common food allergen but often cross-contaminated with a common food allergen: wheat.

the most common food allergens include milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Are oats a common food allergen? No, oats are not a common food allergen but often cross-contaminated with a common food allergen: wheat. Many people may experience allergic reactions to wheat contaminated oats. Be sure to buy oats specifically labeled gluten free if necessary.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods is often referred to as the Big-8 and includes milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. 

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

oats have a moderate water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Do oats have a high or low water footprint? Oats have a relatively moderate water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of oats? It takes 2,536 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of oats / 304 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of oats.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake….quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

oats have a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Do oats have a high or low carbon footprint? Oats have a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of oats? It takes around 0.31 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of dry oats, a car driving equivalent of 0.75 miles or 1.25 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.

There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

oats are sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, are oats eco friendly? Are oats sustainable?

Oat production is relatively sustainable since there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used. Be sure to buy non GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

oats are vegan.

vegan food to eat on a vegan diet

Are oats vegan? Yes, oats are vegan. Oats are a cereal grain and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

oats are a product that may or may not have labor issues.

labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Are oats a product associated with labor concerns?

At this time there have been no major concerns associated with oat production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may be associated with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even be subjected to harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment has been likened to modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Harvard, The Nutrition Source, Oats

rolled oats – FoodData Central

Oat Standards | Agricultural Marketing Service

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.