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How many times a week should you eat oats?

Oats are one of the healthiest breakfast foods you can eat. They are rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Oats can help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar levels, aid digestion and promote weight loss. But how often should you be eating oats to reap these benefits? Here’s a look at the research and recommendations on optimal oat intake.

Daily Intake Recommendations

Many health organizations recommend eating oats or oatmeal on a daily basis as part of a balanced diet. Here are some of the recommendations:

  • The American Heart Association recommends eating oats at least 5-6 times per week as part of an overall heart-healthy diet pattern.
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends adults eat 1⁄2-1 cup of cooked oatmeal or 1 packet of instant oatmeal each day as part of a balanced breakfast.
  • The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee suggests eating 1.5-2.5 ounce equivalents of whole grains like oats per day, which is about 1⁄2-1 cup cooked oatmeal.

These recommendations are based on research showing that regular oat consumption can help reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, control blood sugar and aid weight loss and maintenance.

Benefits of Daily Oat Intake

Here is a closer look at some of the key health benefits associated with eating oats or oatmeal on a daily basis:

Heart Health

One of the best studied effects of oats is their impact on heart health. Oats contain a special type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which has been shown to help reduce total and LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. According to research, eating 3 grams of oat beta-glucan per day can lower LDL cholesterol by 5-10%.

Oats and oatmeal also contain avenanthramides, unique antioxidants that help prevent LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized and damaging artery walls. Additionally, the fiber and magnesium in oats can help lower high blood pressure.

Blood Sugar Control

The beta-glucan fiber in oats blunts the spikes in blood sugar levels that can occur after eating. The fiber forms a gel-like substance that slows down digestion and the absorption of glucose from food. Research shows that eating oats can lower post-meal blood sugar rises compared to refined grains.

Aids Digestion

The soluble fiber in oats helps promote healthy digestion in a few key ways. First, it adds bulk and moisture to stool, easing constipation. It also acts as a prebiotic, nourishing the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome. Furthermore, the fiber feeds your gut’s healthy bacteria which produce short-chain fatty acids that support digestive health.

Promotes Weight Loss

Oats are a very filling, low-calorie grain. Just one cup of cooked oats contains about 150 calories. Thanks to all that fiber, oatmeal suppresses appetite and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. This can help reduce overall calorie intake and aid weight loss.

According to studies, eating oats is associated with lower body mass index (BMI) and reduced risk of obesity. The beta-glucan fiber increases satiety hormones like peptide YY and GLP-1 which signal your brain that you’re full.

Provides Important Nutrients

In addition to fiber, oats supply a wealth of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are a great source of manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, B vitamins and iron. Oats also contain unique antioxidants like avenanthramides that are linked to reduced inflammation and lower cardiovascular disease risk.

Optimal Serving Size

To get the cholesterol lowering benefits of oats, experts recommend eating at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan per day. Three grams is contained in about 3/4 cup of cooked oatmeal or 1 packet of instant oatmeal.

Some research also shows better blood sugar benefits from higher intakes around 4-6 grams per day, or about 1-1.5 cups of cooked oatmeal. Higher oat intakes around this amount have also been linked to greater reductions in cardiovascular disease risk.

So optimal serving sizes range from around 3/4 cup cooked to 1.5 cups cooked oats, providing 3-6 grams of beta glucan. The more oats you can regularly eat while keeping carbohydrate counts in a healthy range, the better.

Best Times to Eat Oats

Oats can be enjoyed at any time of day, but are best consumed in the morning or earlier in the day. Here’s why:

  • May affect sleep – Oats are fairly high in carbs. Consuming large servings late at night may adversely affect sleep quality.
  • Better blood sugar control – Eating oats earlier in the day, especially breakfast, has been shown to lower blood sugar spikes compared to at night.
  • Provides lasting energy – The complex carbs and fiber keep you fueled and energized when you need it most before an active day.

The most popular time to enjoy oats is breakfast. Oatmeal provides a nutrient-dense, satisfying meal to start your day. Pair oats with fruit, nuts, seeds, milk or yogurt for a well-balanced breakfast.

Ways to Eat Oats

Here are some delicious ways to enjoy oats throughout the week:

  • Classic oatmeal – Top with milk, fruit, cinnamon, nuts
  • Overnight oats – Soak oats in milk overnight and add fruit and nuts
  • Oatmeal bake – Combine oats, milk, eggs and bake into bars
  • Oat smoothie – Blend oats, yogurt, milk, fruit and greens
  • Apple cinnamon oats – Cook oats with apples, cinnamon and raisins
  • Savory oats – Top with vegetables, eggs, olive oil, cheese, herbs
  • Oat pancakes – Make pancake batter with oats, milk, eggs
  • Granola – Toss oats with nuts, seeds, oil, spices and bake into crunchy granola

You can also sprinkle oats into muffins, breads, cookies and other baked goods. Use oat flour in place of regular flour for extra fiber.

Tips for Eating More Oats

If you want to start eating oats every day, here are some helpful tips:

  • Make a batch of overnight oats on Sunday to have ready to grab and go each morning.
  • Meal prep oatmeal cups with your favorite toppings so they’re ready to microwave.
  • Keep instant oatmeal packets on hand for busy mornings.
  • Add oats to smoothies and muffins for extra nutrition.
  • Try new flavors like apple pie, pumpkin spice or chocolate peanut butter.
  • Mix in different fruits, nuts and spices to keep it interesting.
  • Buy large canisters of oats instead of individual packages to save money.

Potential Concerns

Eating oats daily is healthy for most people, but there are some things to keep in mind:


Oats contain phytic acid or phytates that can bind minerals like iron, zinc and calcium and reduce their absorption. This is only a concern if you rely on oats as a main food staple and eat them multiple times a day.

Gluten-Free Status

Oats are naturally gluten-free but are often processed in facilities that also process wheat. People with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity should choose certified gluten-free oats.

Carbs and Calories

While oats are very healthy, they are still fairly high in carbs and calories. Monitor your portions if trying to lose weight. Stick to 1⁄2 -1 cup cooked oats per serving.


Some people need to restrict high FODMAP foods that are not absorbed well, like oats, for gut health. Try eliminating oats for a few weeks if you have IBS to see if it helps.

Beta-Glucan Extracts

For maximum cholesterol lowering benefits, it’s better to eat whole oat food vs taking beta-glucan supplements. Whole oats provide better blood sugar control as well.

The Bottom Line

Based on the research, aim for eating oats or oatmeal around 5-6 times per week as part of a balanced diet. Daily consumption, in amounts around 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups cooked, provides better blood sugar control, heart health benefits and cholesterol lowering effects.

Focus on getting most of your servings earlier in the day, especially breakfast. Mix up your oats by trying overnight oats, oat smoothies, oatmeal baked goods and more. Pair oats with milk, fruit, nuts and spices for a satisfying meal any time of day.

While oats are very healthy, those with celiac disease, IBS or who are monitoring carbs may need to limit portions or avoid oats altogether. As long as you don’t have any sensitivities and keep an eye on portions, making oats a staple in your weekly meal plan is a smart way to improve your overall diet.