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Benefits of Overnight Oats vs Cooked Oats

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Whole grain oats are a rich source of nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, minerals, fibers, antioxidants. If you follow a healthy eating habit, oatmeal is a beneficial food to add in your overall diet no matter how it is prepared. 

Common preparations of oatmeal include soaked overnight oats or cooked oatmeal prepared in the microwave or on the stovetop. The obvious difference is cooking versus raw soaking, but this guide will elaborate on the details a bit further.

What are the benefits of overnight oats vs cooked oats? The benefits of oatmeal can be experienced no matter which technique you habituate. However, it seems that overnight oats outweigh other preparation methods due to the fact that the grain has a chance to ferment, which aids in digestion, increase available nutrition and incorporates beneficial gut bacteria.

What are the benefits of eating overnight oats? Are raw oats better than cooked oats? Is it healthier to eat cooked or raw oatmeal?

Let us find convincing answers to these questions by exploring the benefits of both overnight oats and cooked oats. This guide will cover the benefits of preparing oats by cooking and with no cook techniques.

Overnight Oats vs. Cooked Oats

You will get contradictory opinions if you ask people to choose between raw overnight oats or cooked oatmeal preparations. Some people love eating uncooked oats, while others prefer cooked oats. 

We can evaluate the immediate differences and consider how the body absorbs, digests and utilizes the nutrients available from the whole grain. Let us explore in detail after analyzing the benefits of overnight vs cooked oats.

Is oatmeal healthier cooked or raw? Which one is better; cooked or raw oatmeal? Which oatmeal preparation is healthier for you to eat?

Do oats lose calories when cooked? There is a difference in calories and macro-nutrients between dry oatmeal and cooked oatmeal. 

Let us dig a bit deeper to understand the relevant points of contention. 

The major reason behind the difference in calories is the increased water content in the cooked oatmeal. You just need a 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal to make slightly more than 1 cup of cooked oats. 

1 cup of cooked oatmeal contains 5.9 grams of proteins and 166 calories. It also comprises 4 grams of fiber, 3.6 grams of fat, and 28.1 grams of carbohydrates.

Now, let us check what 1 cup of dry oatmeal contains. It has 10.7 grams of protein, 8.2 grams of fiber, 54.8 grams of carbohydrates, and 5.3 grams of fat, along with 307 calories. 

When you compare cooked oatmeal and raw oatmeal in terms of nutrients, you will find that raw oatmeal stands taller. So, the raw version is healthier than the cooked version as it purely contains nutrient dense food.

Cooked Oats

Is it necessary to cook oats? When you cook oats, you degrade the amount of available nutrition within the oats. Cooking also results in the release of certain anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid, that the human body cannot absorb directly from raw oats. 

Why do you cook oats? It makes the dry grain more palatable to eat, without properly hydrating the oats they are indigestible and can cause issues resulting from constipation.

Many people prefer cooked oats as it is hot comfort food. Oatmeal is often topped with milk, butter, nuts, berries, maple syrup or brown sugar. 

However, if you are prepared to eat raw oats that are moistened with liquid, you can certainly consume soaked oats. It is a very healthy option that requires no cooking.

Actually, it is a personal choice, depending on the taste preference of the individual, the basic point is that it is not necessary to cook oats. You can eat them raw if you prefer, but they must be soaked. 

Does boiling oatmeal destroy nutrients?

When you boil oatmeal or any other food or vegetable, it loses around 25% of nutrients. If you microwave them, you can retain some more nutrients better than boiling because the cooking time is less. 

So, it can be said that boiling oatmeal destroys nutrients to a limited extent. As mentioned above, boiling, however helps your body absorb some nutrients better than absorbing from purely eating raw dry oats.

Cooking opens accessibility to some nutrients, while minimizing the quantity of others. The intensity of heat while cooking is a contributing factor, so if you are able to cook at lower heat for short length of time then you will be able to maximize the available nutrients.

Do oats lose calories when cooked?

Cooking naturally affects foods in different ways. In the case of oats, there are definitely less calories in cooked oats as opposed to dry oats, let me explain.

As clearly mentioned above, 1 cup cooked oatmeal contains 166 calories. At the same time, 1 cup of dry or raw oats contains 307 calories. 

These figures can certainly suggest a lose of calories when cooked. However, the resulting lose is attributed to the absorption of water while being cooked.

Dry oats are nutrient dense, they are the whole grain unadulterated. In contrast, cooked oats are half water half grains, taking up the same amount of volume.

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats refer to raw oats that are soaked overnight. For soaking, you can use milk, dairy free milk, yogurt, juice or water. 

Absorbing the liquid during the night, the oats get softened. The same thing happens when you cook oats. 

However, the soaking process occurs much slower compared to the cooking process. Because of the absence of heat, the hydration time becomes much lengthier.

Do overnight oats have phytic acid? Breaking down the amount of natural starches available in the oats, soaking reduces the phytic acid in overnight oats

This process equips your body to make use of the nutrients available in oats more effectively. That is to say, you can expect better nutrient absorption with overnight oats compared to eating raw dry oats.

Are overnight oats better hot or cold?

Overnight oats can be consumed either way, however they are commonly eaten while cold or room temperature. 

The soaked oats have been allowed to ferment once exposed to liquid. So the nutrients are available and easier for your body to access, therefore you don’t need to cook overnight oats.

You don’t need to worry about the texture or consistency while eating cold overnight oats. Since the oats are soaked, they turn soft and are easier for you to digest. 

The taste also gets better with the soaking process. Some people always prefer eating hot foods. If you are one of them, you may not find the cold oats appealing. 

In such a situation, you can heat oats slightly to suit your taste preference. The benefits of overnight oats are not affected whether they are eaten cold or hot, although overcooking will degrade the nutrient availability.

What are the different types of oats available?

There are many different types of oats, however the most common are steel cut oats, rolled oats and quick oats

Oat groats refer to whole oats that contain the endosperm of the grain, bran, and cereal germ. Offering highly nutritious value, oat brans are pretty similar to the groats. The only difference is that the oat brans do not contain the cereal germ and endosperm.

One of the most common options available today is the rolled oats, which are the whole grain that has been steamed pressed with steel rollers. Available in thinner sizes, these old fashioned oats lower the cooking time and provide a smooth texture. 

The steel-cut oats are not processed with the help of rolling the whole oats. Instead, the whole oat is chopped in half to make this oat variation and slightly reduce the cooking time compared to whole groats. They demand more cooking time compared to rolled oats, and can always be associate with a chewier texture.

Instant oats and quick oats are one of the most popular types of oats available today. These products lightly thinner compared to rolled oats, so you can cook them very very fast; however instant oats have been fully pre-cooked, dried, and ground into a meal so that they ready to eat when topped with boiling hot water.

Generally speaking, all types of oats are healthy. However, if you rank them in terms of nutritious value, oat groats are the healthiest option available. The next one is oat bran followed by the steel-cut oats, rolled oats, and quick oats.

For cooking, all of these variants can be used, but that is not the same for soaking. The best type of oats for overnight oats in old fashioned rolled oats, the flakes are flattened thin enough that the texture is soft with a slight chewiness. 

overnight oats vs cooked oats

Cooked Oats vs. Raw Oats: Final Thoughts

If your prime focus is on health, then oatmeal is a nutritious food item to add in your diet. Some people advocate raw foods, while others support eating cooked foods.

Raw oats don’t mean that you need to eat dry oats. You can soak them in liquid to make them softer, palatable and more digestible.

This guide reflected on the necessity to cook oatmeal, or whether it could be consumed without heating in any way. It appears to be clear that you do not need to cook oatmeal if you soak the grain overnight.

In other words, you can choose the overnight oats to efficiently increase health benefits. This method allows you to combine various ingredients with the oats to make them taste better and be an even more nutritious meal. 

If you prefer cooked oats, you can experiment in many ways using different combinations. However, they don’t offer the same nutrition as raw oats do.

What is the healthiest way to eat oats? You cannot easily undermine the benefits of cooked oats, however if you are looking for the healthiest way to eat oats, you can choose the overnight oats. 

The grain ferments while being soaked overnight. This process adds to beneficial gut bacterial and makes more nutrients available for digestion. 

This method does not employ any heating process and retains all the nutrients efficiently. The benefits of overnight oats stand taller compared to other types of oatmeal preparations.

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Friday 17th of September 2021

Thank you for the great information! How long can you keep overnight (raw) oats in the fridge? I am interested in steel cut oats in particular.


Friday 17th of September 2021

Hello Beth, thank you for reaching out. Overnight oats can last up to 5 days when stored in the fridge. I have written extensively about this subject and many others that might interest you: How long do overnight oats last Do Overnight Oats Need To Be Refrigerated? Can You Freeze Overnight Oats?