Oats during Pregnancy - Heath Benefits & Side Effects

Eating Oats During Pregnancy – Is it Harmful?

Medically Reviewed By
Gayatri Dawda (Nutritionist)
View more Nutritionist Our Panel of Experts

Advice to eat healthily comes from every single corner of the world, especially if you are pregnant for the first time. Oats are a healthy option in everyday life, no doubt, and a pregnant woman does require a diet that is healthy and nutritious for herself and the baby. However, many women wonder if oats should be a part of their pregnancy diet. Oats and pregnancy are almost synonymous. Oats offer a range of essential nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. They can help regulate digestion, provide steady energy, and support overall health during pregnancy. Incorporating oats into your meals can be a delicious and nutritious way to meet some of your dietary needs while expecting.

Nutritional Value of Oats

Oats are a highly nutritious whole grain known for their health benefits. They are rich in various essential nutrients that make them a popular choice for a nutritious breakfast. Here is a tabular breakdown of the nutritional value of oats per 100 grams:

Nutrients Quantity
Calories 389 kcal
Carbohydrates 66.3 grams
Dietary Fiber 10.6 grams
Sugars 0.99 grams
Protein 16.9 grams
Fat 6.9 grams
Saturated Fat 1.22 grams
Monounsaturated Fat 2.18 grams
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.54 grams
Omega-3 Fatty Acids 0.15 grams
Omega-6 Fatty Acids 2.38 grams
Vitamins  
Vitamin E 0.43 mg
Vitamin K 1.9 µg
Thiamin (B1) 0.76 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.14 mg
Niacin (B3) 0.961 mg
Vitamin B6 0.119 mg
Folate (B9) 56 µg
Minerals  
Calcium 54 mg
Iron 4.72 mg
Magnesium 177 mg
Phosphorus 523 mg
Potassium 429 mg
Sodium 2 mg
Zinc 3.97 mg
Copper 0.626 mg
Manganese 4.917 mg
Selenium 34.4 µg

Can You Eat Oats in Pregnancy?

Are oats good for pregnancy? The short answer to that question is a resounding YES! Oats are absolutely safe to consume during pregnancy. Oats are known to contain a lot of important nutrients that are quite essential for a budding mother in the prenatal stage. This makes oats one of the top items on the list of food a pregnant woman should have.

Benefits of Eating Oats While Pregnant

Some of the benefits of oats during pregnancy are:

1. Great Energy Source

Oats for pregnant ladies are great as they need a regular dose of energy throughout the day. Just a small serving of oats contains enough carbohydrates and calories to give a great boost of energy during the day.

2. Has Complex Carbohydrates

As opposed to the simple carbohydrates in everyday food items, these carbohydrates take time to break down and digest slowly. This keeps your blood sugar at a healthy level and reduces the risk of gestational diabetes. A slow digestion process also ensures gradual and healthy weight gain.

3. Rich in Fibre

Oats contain a considerable amount of fibre. This is a godsend for all pregnant women suffering from the usual bouts of constipation, as fibre helps regulate the process of digestion and improves bowel movement.

4. Contains Vital Minerals

Potassium, phosphorous, calcium, selenium, magnesium, and manganese are just some of the minerals that are part of oats. Each of them has tons of benefits, right from improving your immunity to boosting your bone health and tooth formation, consequently ensuring great development and growth of your baby.

5. Has Necessary Vitamins

Healthy insides and healthy outsides are what keeps all pregnant women happy. With the presence of B Vitamins, folate, and Pantothenic acid, all the fat and protein in the body is broken down in an efficient manner, which also keeps the membranes of the mucous healthy and strong.

6. Rich in Folic Acid

Out of all vitamins and minerals, folic acid is one that no pregnant woman should forget to take. It is highly essential in the development of the nervous system and the brain of the foetus and prevents any disorders from occurring.

7. Contains Iron

No more risk of being anaemic, when simply one serving of oats on a daily basis takes care of a 10 per cent requirement of iron. Complemented with a great diet, this is a great boost to maintaining your health.

8. Supports Heart Health

Oats are known for their heart-healthy properties. They are rich in soluble fiber, specifically beta-glucans, which can help lower cholesterol levels. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is essential during pregnancy to reduce the risk of heart-related complications.

9. Aids in Morning Sickness

Many pregnant women experience morning sickness during the first trimester. Oats are a gentle and easily digestible food that can help alleviate nausea and provide relief when consumed as a bland, soothing option.

10. Promotes Healthy Weight Management

Oats’ combination of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein can help pregnant women manage their weight more effectively. They provide sustained energy while supporting healthy weight gain during pregnancy, which is important for the well-being of both the mother and baby.

Different Types of Oats Pregnant Women Can Eat

During pregnancy, choosing the right type of oats can provide you with a nutritious and versatile food option. There are various types of oats available, each with its own characteristics and uses. Here are some common types of oatmeal for pregnant women to include in their diet:

1. Rolled Oats (Old-Fashioned Oats)

These oats are perhaps the most familiar and widely used. They are created by steaming oat groats and then rolling them into flakes. Rolled oats are known for their versatility and can be used to make oatmeal, granola, cookies, and more. They have a slightly chewy texture when cooked.

2. Steel-Cut Oats

Steel-cut oats are whole oat groats that have been chopped into pieces, resulting in a coarser texture compared to rolled oats. They take longer to cook but offer a hearty and nutty flavor. Steel-cut oats are a great choice if you prefer a chewier oatmeal or want to add texture to recipes.

3. Instant Oats

Instant oats are pre-cooked and then dried, making them the quickest to prepare. They are convenient for busy mornings but may have a softer texture than other types. However, some instant oats may contain added sugars or flavors, so it’s essential to check the ingredient list if you’re watching your sugar intake.

Side Effects of Consuming Oats When Pregnant

For all the health benefits of oats, there are some side effects one can experience, even while consuming oatmeal during pregnancy’s first trimester.

  • Consuming oats excessively is known to cause indigestion and diarrhoea in a few cases. Limit the quantity to a healthy proportion.
  • Certain women have experienced a blocked intestine by consuming a lot of oats. This is a serious problem during pregnancy and should be addressed immediately.
  • If you are allergic to gluten, there are chances of you being allergic to oats as well. Try and find alternatives if you can.
  • Instant oats are not a healthy option. Instead, look for steel-cut oats or rolled oats, as they possess the health benefits mentioned earlier.
  • Some pregnant women may experience increased gas, flatulence, and bloating when consuming oats excessively. This can be uncomfortable and may require moderation in oat consumption to alleviate these symptoms.

Ways to Add Oats to Your Pregnancy Diet

Here are some simple ways to add oats to your diet during pregnancy.

1. The Classic Way

Oats are best enjoyed with hot milk and water, with a small teaspoon of honey in it. Further accompanied by some nice vegetables or adding some vanilla essence, if that suits you, can make for a heavenly breakfast.

women having glass of milk in hand2. No More Traditional Flour

The usual maida is not exactly a healthy option during pregnancy since that can easily add to your weight and increase the risk of diabetes. Simply using oat flour instead of it can help you make healthy alternatives to various cakes, bread, cookies, and most of the other dishes that are made with maida.

3. Grab Those Bars

Now is the time to take as many granola bars as you can and chew on them as a quick snack. These bars not only contain oats but other nuts and berries as well, which make for a nutritional and energetic bite.

4. Oats Can Be Tasty, Too

Most people are introduced to oats in their bland and health-conscious form. A little experimentation will quickly reveal the flavours that complement the taste of oats impeccably. Some cinnamon powder, maybe a little maple syrup, milk, cream, ice cream, fruits, brown sugar, and many others are great to be paired with oats and make them tasty.

5. Be a Master Chef

Cooking oats is a no-brainer since there is literally no complexity to how they need to be cooked. Go ahead and try out various permutations and combinations to unlock that secret dish that is not only healthy but great to taste, too.

Oats Recipes for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women can benefit from including oats in their diet due to their nutritional value and versatility. Here are three delicious and nutritious oat-based recipes tailored for expectant mothers:

1. Oats Granola Bars 

These granola bars are tasty, healthy, and super easy to make. They’re a great option for a breakfast bar, between-meals snack, or if you’re craving something sweet. The recipe is adaptable, so add your favourite fruits, nuts, or any other ingredient.

Oats Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of oats
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds (roasted)
  • 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds (roasted)
  • 1/2 cup of almonds (sliced)
  • 1/2 cup of dried berries (cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, goji berries)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

How to Make:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking dish (9* 13 inches) with butter/ parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Mash the bananas in a large bowl, until you get a smooth puree-like consistency.
  4. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  5. Blend the oats in a blender or food processor until you get a coarse consistency.
  6. Add the oats to the banana mixture and stir.
  7. Add the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. You should get a heavy, slightly wet consistency.
  8. Spoon the mixture on the prepared baking dish. Slightly wet your hands and press down on the dough until it is compact and flat.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until it is firm and golden-brown at the edges.
  10. Let it cool completely, and cut into rectangular bars.
  11. These can be stored for a week in the fridge and for a month in the freezer.

2. Oatmeal With Berries and Almonds

This would make for a lovely oats during pregnancy second-trimester dish!

Oatmeal With Berries and Almonds

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk (or a dairy-free alternative)
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

How to Make:

  1. Take a saucepan and mix the rolled oats and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the oats absorb the liquid and reach your desired consistency (usually about 5-7 minutes).
  2. Transfer the cooked oatmeal to a bowl and top it with the mixed berries.
  3. Drizzle honey or maple syrup over the berries if you prefer added sweetness.
  4. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top for added crunch and nutrition.
  5. Optionally, dust the oatmeal with cinnamon for extra flavor and health benefits.
  6. Enjoy your delicious and nutritious oatmeal breakfast!

3. Banana-Nut Oat Muffins

These banana-nut oat muffins make a delightful and nutritious snack for pregnant women on the go or a healthy addition to breakfast.

Banana Nut Oat MuffinsIngredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or yogurt of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to Make:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a muffin tin with paper liners.\
  2. In a bowl, combine the oats, whole wheat flour, chopped nuts, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, Greek yogurt, honey or maple syrup, applesauce, egg, and vanilla extract until well combined.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients that you have prepared as in the above step into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overmix or else the muffins won’t be tender.
  5. Pour the batter into the muffin cups.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 18-20 minutes. You can check if it’s cooked by using a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin and seeing if it comes out clean. If not, bake for more time.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

FAQs

1. Is it Safe to Eat Raw Oats While Pregnant?

It is generally safe to eat raw oats during pregnancy as long as they are clean and free from contaminants. However, cooking oats is recommended to make them easier to digest and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

2. Can Pregnant Women Eat Masala Oats?

Yes, pregnant women can eat masala oats, but it’s important to choose options with mild seasoning and check the ingredient list for any potential allergens or excessive sodium. Homemade masala oats with controlled ingredients can be a healthier choice.

3. Can You Eat Overnight Oats in Pregnancy?

Yes, you can eat overnight oats during pregnancy. Overnight oats are a convenient and nutritious option. Ensure that any added ingredients or toppings are safe for pregnancy, and consider refrigerating them properly to avoid spoilage.

4. Can I Substitute Oats for Rice During Pregnancy to Aid in Weight Reduction?

Oats can be a healthy substitute for rice during pregnancy if you’re looking to manage your weight. Oats are rich in fiber and nutrients, making them a good choice for a balanced diet. Consult your healthcare provider for personalized dietary recommendations.

5. How Much Oats You Can Consume in Pregnancy?

The amount of oats you can consume during pregnancy varies depending on your dietary needs and preferences. As a general guideline, incorporating one to two servings (1/2 to 1 cup cooked oats per serving) into your daily diet is a reasonable and nutritious choice. However, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized recommendations based on your specific health and nutritional requirements during pregnancy.

With any food item or consumable, as healthy as it might be, moderation is always the key. Oats are a great addition to your diet during the first trimester, second trimester, as well as the third trimester, but cannot be your main source of all nutrition and energy. Complement them regularly with your standard foods and make for tasty snacks whenever possible.

References/Resources:

1. Dietary Advice for Moms to Be; U.S. Food & Drug Administration; https://www.fda.gov/food/people-risk-foodborne-illness/dietary-advice-moms-be

2. The Role of Fiber; University of Michigan Health System; https://www.med.umich.edu/pfans/_pdf/hetm-2016/0816-roleoffiber.pdf

3. Greenberg. J, Bell. S, Guan. Y, Yu. Y; Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3218540/

4. The Nutrition Source: Oats; Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/oats/

5. FoodData Central: Raw Oats; U.S. Department of Agriculture; https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1101825/nutrients

6. Slavin. J; Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355/; April 2013

7. Li. X, Cai. X, Ma. X, et al.; Short- and Long-Term Effects of Wholegrain Oat Intake on Weight Management and Glucolipid Metabolism in Overweight Type-2 Diabetics: A Randomized Control Trial; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037534/; September 2016

Also read:

Consuming Dates during Pregnancy
Is it Safe to Eat Corn while Pregnant
Can you eat Potatoes in Pregnancy
Benefits and Risks of Popcorn during Pregnancy

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