Whole grain oats can be processed and sold in a variety of forms, and the variety of the types of oats you come across, and the different names, can become confusing.
Various types of oats should be prepared and eaten in various ways, and you cannot just assume one type of oats can be prepared the same as another.
One type of oats you might come across is steel-cut oats. Can you eat raw steel-cut oats?
It is not recommended that you eat steel-cut oats raw, as the texture can be quite chewy and unpalatable compared to other types of oats. Steel-cut oats are best cooked properly, to soften and become easier to eat.
To find out more about steel-cut oats, how to enjoy them, and whether or not you should attempt eating them raw, keep reading!
What Are Steel Cut Oats?
Steel-cut oats are a type of whole-grain oat that is processed in a particular way. All oats begin by being hulled, which removes the inedible outer shell, and which separates the groat.
The groat is then chopped down, either into two or three pieces, which is how steel-cut oats are produced. Steel oats can also be referred to as Irish oatmeal, pinhead oats, or coarse oatmeal.
Steel-cut oats contain bran, germ, and endosperm. If produced further, they can become rolled oats or quick oats.
Steel-cut oats are known to be a chewier cereal, as they are not very processed. They are not a good option to use to make baked goods and are almost always only used as breakfast cereal.
The name comes from the processing machine which is used to chop the groat down into two or three pieces.
What Is the Difference Between Steel-Cut Oats and Regular Oats?
It helps to understand the differences between steel-cut oats and regular oats, as you will be able to better understand why you should not eat steel-cut oats raw.
The main difference between steel-cut oats and other types of oats, such as quick oats or rolled oats, is the amount of processing the oats go through. Steel-cut oats are simply oat groats that have been cut down into two or three pieces.
Further processing creates rolled oats, which involves steaming and rolling oat groats, which helps to reduce cooking time.
Different processing can also create quick or instant oats, which are steel-cut oats that have been chopped into even smaller pieces, which once again help with faster cooking.
So, the processing of the various types of oats is different, but this means that the cooking time, and the consistency, of the various oats, are different too.
Raw Steel-Cut Oats – Can You Eat Them Raw?
Quick-cooking oats and rolled oats can be used in baked goods, added to smoothies, or used to make oat bars, as they can be eaten raw and still be enjoyable.
However, the same isn’t true for steel-cut oats. It isn’t very common for steel-cut oats to be eaten raw, as they do not have a very pleasant texture raw, and can be quite hard and chewy.
With steel-cut oats, you do have to soften them somehow before eating them. This could be through cooking them on the stove or in the microwave, to allow them to absorb moisture and become easier to chew, or you could soak them overnight in milk or yogurt to make overnight oats.
You can use steel-cut oats to top your yogurt or smoothie, but once again it is best to try and soften them somehow before eating them.
Do Steel Cut Oats Need to Be Cooked?
It is advised to cook steel-cut oats, to soften them and make them taste better, but you can make overnight oats with steel-cut oats if you desire.
There is no cooking involved when making overnight oats, instead, you leave the oats to sit in a liquid, such as milk or yogurt, or a mix of the two, overnight, and when it is time to eat them the next day, they would have softened substantially.
However, it is worth noting that overnight oats made with steel-cut oats will be chewier than overnight oats made with quick-cooking oats or rolled oats, but this might not be an issue if you don’t mind more of a chewy texture.
Are Raw Steel Cut Oats Difficult to Digest?
Raw steel-cut oats can be difficult for some to digest, and soaking the oats overnight, or cooking them, does a lot to help make the oats easier to digest. Soaking helps to improve digestion, as well as nutrient absorption, so it is very beneficial.
Some people do find oats more difficult to digest than others, and if you know that you do not digest oats particularly well, then you should avoid eating steel-cut oats raw, as they can be the most difficult to digest, and it isn’t worth the upset that the oats might cause.
Are Steel Cut Oats Good for You?
Oats in general are a great food to include in your diet, especially for breakfast, as they are packed with a range of different beneficial vitamins, nutrients, and more.
When it comes to steel-cut oats, they are considered to be one of the better breakfast cereals, and this is due to the way the oats are processed. Due to the shape and size of steel-cut oats, the body takes longer to break them down, compared to how long it takes to break down rolled or quick-cooking oats.
As it takes longer to digest these oats, it means that there will not be a sudden spike in blood sugar, and the oats will keep you feeling fuller for longer. This makes them a great breakfast meal, to really get a boost in the morning.
Steel-cut oats also contain more fiber and nutrients compared to rolled oats. This is because rolled oats are pre-cooked, so some of the nutrients and fiber are lost during this process. As steel oats are not par-cooked, they retain most of their nutrients and fiber.
If you have the time to cook or soak steel-cut oats, they are definitely one of the healthiest grains you can include in your diet.
Is It Safe to Eat Steel Cut Oats Raw?
As mentioned above, it isn’t recommended to eat steel-cut oats raw, as they can be hard, chewy, and unpleasant.
This is the main reason why steel-cut oats should not be eaten raw, but some people also believe that steel-cut oats might harbor some microorganisms or bacteria that could result in illness.
This is due to the fact that steel-cut oats are not par-cooked like rolled oats are, and any bacteria they contain are not killed off.
While there is always a possibility of this, there is very little risk that you might become ill from eating raw steel-cut oats that do not show any signs of spoiling and which have been stored properly. However, it is safest to cook the oats anyways, and they will taste better too!
Can You Eat Instant Oats Raw?
Instant oats, fast-cooking oats, and rolled oats have all been processed more than steel-cut oats, and this means that they are better to enjoy raw compared to steel-cut oats.
These are all great choices to include in muesli, oat bars, and baked goods, and to use in smoothies or to top on yogurt. They also do really well used to make overnight oats, as they soften beautifully overnight.
If you are wanting to use oats raw, then quick-cooking oats, instant oats, or rolled oats would be your best option.
Can You Eat Steel-Cut Oats Raw?
You can technically eat steel-cut oats raw, but they will not have a pleasant taste, or a soft, palatable texture. Steel-cut oats are groats that have been chopped down into two or three pieces, and this makes the oats chewy and hard.
To avoid cooking, you can leave steel-cut oats to soak overnight to make overnight oats, but they will still be chewier compared to other varieties of oats.
Steel-cut oats are best cooked, whether in water or milk, and served as a breakfast cereal. Steel-cut oats are packed with fiber and nutrients and are definitely worth including in your diet, as long as you soak or cook them first!
Can the Body Digest Steel-Cut Oats?
The body can digest steel-cut oats, but it takes longer to do so compared to regular oats, but this is fine as it means you feel fuller for longer, and they provide you with much-needed fuel for longer.
Are Steel-Cut Oats Healthier than Rolled Oats?
Steel-cut oats and rolled oats are very similar in nutrient content, but steel-cut oats do have a higher fiber content and more nutrient density, so they will give you more per meal than rolled oats. However, rolled oats are still a great inclusion in your diet!