Few foods are better suited for kick starting a day off right than oats.  Whole oats or quick-cooking oats pack a powerful nutritional punch while offering a host of other benefits.  But, it’s important to take care when selecting oatmeal to energize the morning.  Hidden sugars can devalue the nutritional benefits while packing unnecessary, extra calories into a meal.

Selecting the Right Oats

There are lots of options when it comes to oatmeal.  To find the healthiest, be sure to read labels before tossing a box of oats into a shopping cart.  Whether you’re selecting instant, hot oatmeal or one of the cold cereals, read the labels to gauge the amount of sugar involved.  Some of the flavored oatmeal packets, for example, have additives that just aren’t necessary.  If one of the first two ingredients on a package happen to be sugar, just steer clear.

Why Oatmeal?

Oats weigh in fairly high in the fiber department and they’re packed with minerals the body needs to perform.  A single one-cup serving boasts such important minerals as manganese, selenium, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium.  What’s even better is that oatmeal is also a fairly low calorie food.  That single cup serving has less than 200 calories.

Oats have a number of reported health benefits, too. They include:

  • Oats are high in antioxidants.
  • The fiber in oats is beneficial for keeping cholesterol in check, which in turn promotes heart health and helps prevent heart attacks and strokes.
  • Oats can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • Oats help boost the immune system.
  • Diets rich in oats can help prevent certain forms of cancer.

Sweetening the Deal

While a plain bowl of oatmeal is a great start to the day, going without some added flavor could get old fast.  To enhance the taste and sweeten the deal , consider serving oatmeal with:

  • A little bit of natural honey
  • Fresh fruit in the mix
  • Fruit and nuts in the mix

Other Tips for Healthy Living

Eating right is only one component necessary for improving personal fitness.  Here are some tips that can help with a more holistic approach for health:

  • Make sure diet throughout the day is well balanced and contains lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other healthy choices.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals to promote metabolism and assist with weight loss or control efforts.
  • Stop by a local gym or fitness center to kick off an exercise program that provides an extra boost. A smart diet is only one facet of good health. To gain the greatest benefits, physical activity needs to be included in the mix.