Cream of Wheat vs Oatmeal: What’s the Difference? We Compare

Cream of Wheat and oatmeal are two popular breakfast foods with similarities. They are cooked the same way causing some people to ask, is Cream of Wheat the same as oatmeal?

Cream of Wheat is a brand of breakfast cereal made from wheat farina which is milled wheat. It is whiter than the beige colored oatmeal and has a smoother texture. Oatmeal is made from whole oat grains chopped or rolled and is manufactured by many different companies. 

This article will include a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in both. In addition, I’ll examine their tastes, textures, glycemic index, satiety index, prices, storage methods and health benefits.

As a Certified Health Coach, many of my clients have asked about these two foods. In addition to coaching clients about them, I’ve purchased, researched and consumed both prior to, during and sometimes after writing this article.

Oatmeal made by Kevin Garce on the left and Cream of Wheat on the right
Oatmeal made by Kevin Garce on the left and Cream of Wheat on the right

Cream of Wheat vs Oatmeal: The Difference

Depending on what area you’re from, one of these two foods may be unfamiliar with you. Oatmeal is more popular and is on every breakfast place or diner menu. Most menus don’t offer Cream of Wheat as an option.

For this reason, some people don’t know much about it. Let’s discuss their differences.

  • Cream of Wheat is made from the endosperm of the wheat grain. Oatmeal is made with oats rather than wheat by hulling and steaming whole oat grains. 
  • Cream of Wheat is a brand of breakfast cereal made by the Company B&G Foods. Oatmeal is a type of cereal made by many different companies.
  • Cream of Wheat was released in 1893. Regular oatmeal has been consumed for thousands of years, first by the ancient Greeks.
  • Cream of Wheat’s color is whitish while oatmeal has a tan to beige color.
  • Cheese and butter are common additions to Cream of Wheat but not for oatmeal.

Cream of Wheat comes in the following flavors:

  • Original
  • Whole grain
  • Maple brown sugar
  • Banana walnut
  • Bananas and cream
  • Cocoa nut with almonds
  • Mixed berry

There are four main types of oats: 

  1. Rolled: Rolled oats are the classic oats used in oatmeal. These are also called regular or old-fashioned oats. 
  2. Steel-cut: Steel-cut oats is typically chewier and heartier. You can also use them as a substitution for traditional rice dishes, like risotto. 
  3. Stone-ground: Stone-ground oats make it creamy. 
  4. Quick: Quick oats, often called instant oats, are thinner rolled oats. These are often used in instant and microwavable versions because the oats don’t take as long to cook. 

Nutrition Comparison

They both have similar nutritional profiles, although there are key differences between the two.

The following table is a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in 100-gram servings of each one.

  Oatmeal (100 g)

 

Cooked

Cream of Wheat (100 g)

 

Cooked

Calories 71 62
Protein 2.54 g 1.84 g
Carbohydrates 12.0 g 13.1 g
Fiber 1.7 g 0.6 g
Fat 1.52 g 0.24 g
Sugar 0.27 g 0.07 g
Vitamin A 0 IU 773 IU
Beta-carotene 0 mcg 0 mcg
Vitamin C 0 mg 0 mg
Vitamin B6 0.005 mg 0.30 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 6 mcg 62 mcg
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0.07 mg 0.23 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.01 mg 0.21 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 0.22 mg 3.09 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 0.31 mg 0.08 mg
Magnesium 27 mg  6 mg
Phosphorous 77 mg  18 mg
Potassium 70 mg 20 mg
Iron 0.90 mg 4.96 mg
Copper 0.07 mg 0.04 mg
Calcium 9 mg 64 mg
Zinc 1.00 mg 0.17 mg

Nutrient Resources 1 2

As you can see above, they both contain the same types of nutrients. At first it’s difficult to determine which one provides a higher percentage of nutrients than the other.

This causes many people to ask, Cream of Wheat vs Oatmeal, which one is healthier?

Oatmeal is healthier than Cream of Wheat due to its higher percentage of protein, fiber and minerals. It provides more B5, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and zinc. Cream of Wheat contains gluten while oats are naturally gluten-free. Oatmeal is lower in sodium.

Cream of Wheat is also healthy and provides a higher percentage of B vitamins, iron and calcium.

Choosing one or the other may depend on your particular goals. One of those goals may be weight loss.

Weight Loss

Oatmeal is better for weight loss than Cream of Wheat due to its higher percentage of fiber and protein which help appetite control. It has a better satiety score of 209% which means it makes someone feel full after consuming it.

Calories

The calories between the two foods are similar and doesn’t make a huge difference per serving.

Protein

Oatmeal contains more protein per serving. It contains 2.54 grams of protein per 100 gram serving while Cream of Wheat contains 1.84 grams.

Fiber

Oatmeal contains more fiber per serving. It contains 1.7 grams of fiber per 100 grams.

Carbohydrates and Low-Carb Diets

Cream of Wheat contains 1.1 grams more of carbohydrates per 100 gram. If you’re on a low carb or Keto diet, cooked oatmeal is the better choice.

Bodybuilding and Muscle Fitness

Oatmeal is better for building muscle and athletic performance due to its higher percentage of protein and calories. The extra calories and protein help to gain weight, muscle and repair muscle.

Iron

Cream of Wheat contains much more iron per serving, 4.96 grams, than oatmeal which only has 0.90 grams. It contains more because it is enriched with iron.

Find out if granola has more nutrients in my article.

cream of wheat and oatmeal nutrient comparison

Taste and Texture

When comparing two foods, it’s not always about the nutrients provided. Many times people choose one food over the other because of its taste or according to their mood.

Since both are mostly breakfast foods, many people wonder and ask, does both taste the same?

Cream of Wheat and oatmeal both have a bland flavor which is unsweet and not bitter. Oatmeal has a chunkier texture than the smoother and creamier Cream of Wheat. Cream of Wheat is grainier from the wheat it contains. Both are moist and can be thicker depending on the amount of liquid added.

The grains of the wheat are prevalent in the creamy wheat mixture. The ingredients added can change the taste.

Old-fashioned rolled oats have a chewier texture than the smoother instant and quick types.

To conduct original research, I polled people in food groups and some of my readers. I asked, which one do you prefer the taste of for breakfast?

  • 52% said they preferred the taste of oatmeal.
  • 38% said they preferred the taste of Cream of Wheat.
  • 10% said they had no preference.

I thought it would be fun to set up my own taste test at home. I prepared both foods with the same ingredients for breakfast. 75% chose the oatmeal.

Find out how the taste of quinoa compared in my article here.

Bobby Flay will inform you how to make the ultimate Cream of Wheat.

How to Cook Cream of Wheat

Original Cream of Wheat is prepared by following this method:

  • Bring water or milk to a boil.
  • Slowly pour in the ground wheat while stirring.
  • Let it simmer for 2 1/2 minutes after the liquid is blended.
  • Cool slightly and serve.

1 minute is prepared the same way as the original except it simmers for 1 minute instead of 2 1/2.

If you prefer a thinner cereal, stir in an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or milk. For a thicker cereal, let stand for a few minutes longer.

Popular additions:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Raspberries
  • Maple syrup
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Chopped mixed nuts

Oatmeal

Old-fashioned traditional oats are added to boiling water and cooked for about five minutes over medium heat.

Traditional instant oats are added to boiling water or milk and then let stand for two minutes.

Steel cut oats are added to boiling water and then simmered over low heat for 25-30 minutes.

Popular additions:

  • Milk
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Banana
  • Chopped mixed nuts
  • Seeds
Learn how to make the best oatmeal.

Find out if grits have the better satiety in my article.

Glycemic Index and Diabetics

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises the blood sugar in the blood 3. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, nerves, kidneys and eyes 4

Knowing the GI of the food consumed is important especially if blood sugar levels are a concern or for diabetics.

How blood sugar levels are affected:

  • Foods with a glycemic index 70 or more cause a quicker spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Foods with a glycemic index 56 to 69 cause a moderate spike in blood sugar levels.
  • Foods with a glycemic index 55 or less cause a slow spike in blood sugar levels.

How foods on the GI scale are categorized as:

  • Low-GI foods: 55 or under
  • Medium-GI foods: 56-69
  • High-GI foods: 70 or over

Knowing what the glycemic index is, and how it affects blood sugar, let’s answer, which one has a higher GI?

The glycemic index of Cream of Wheat is higher than oatmeal. Cream of Wheat has a GI of 66. Rolled oats have a GI of 55. Steel cut has a GI under 55. Instant Cream of Wheat has a higher GI rating. Instant oatmeal has a GI of 79. 

Steel-cut has a lower GI because they are the least processed. Rolled oats are a little higher because they’ve been partially cooked. Quick and instant have been steamed and rolled into thinner pieces to cook quicker. This process increases their GI.

Find out how white rice compared in my article here.

Satiety Index

The satiety index was developed in 1995 from a study which tested 38 foods. The foods were ranked how they satisfied a person’s hunger. Foods scoring under 100 are considered less filling and foods scoring above 100 are considered more filling 5.

The table below shows the satiety scores of breakfast cereals with milk.

Food Satiety Index Score
Muesli 100%
Sustain 112%
Special K 116%
Corn Flakes 118%
Honey Smacks 132%
All-Bran 151%
Porridge 209%
Oatmeal 209%

In the table above you can see which of the two foods scored the highest with 209%. The study results didn’t mention if the porridge is grits, cream of wheat or something else. Technically, many dishes are a type of porridge if ingredients are added.

The oatmeal though didn’t have any added ingredients, only milk. Therefore, it has a higher satiety index than Cream of Wheat alone.

Of all the 38 foods, it was only beat by oranges, ling fish and boiled potatoes.

High satiety food is likely to have a high satiety score for the following reasons:

  1. High in protein.
  2. High in fiber.
  3. High in volume (foods containing a lot of water or air).
  4. Low in energy density (foods low in calories for their weight).

Oatmeal seems to fit into all four listed above.

Find out how brown rice compared in my article, Brown Rice vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? Let’s Compare.

Kevin Garce checking the prices of oatmeal and Cream of Wheat at his local supermarket
Checking the prices of oatmeal and Cream of Wheat at my local supermarket

Prices

It seems every time I go to the supermarket my total cost is higher than the last visit. The cost of food certainly matters to most, especially with the rising costs of everything else.

The price may sway your decision about which one to use in your meals more often. Therefore, let’s examine the price of each food.

The price is similar although Cream of Wheat costs slightly more. The average price for quick oats is $0.25 per serving. The average price for Cream of Wheat is $0.29 per serving. 

To conduct more original research, I decided to visit various different stores and check prices.

I first visited the Shoprite supermarket:

  • Cream of Wheat Instant
    • $4.99 per 12 oz box (12 servings) equaling $0.41 per serving
  • Quaker quick oats
    • $4.99 per 18 oz container (13 servings) equaling $0.38 per 1/2 cup serving

I then checked Walmart:

  • Cream of Wheat Original
    • $3.92 per 28 oz box (24 servings) equaling $0.16 per serving
  • Cream of Wheat Instant Packets
    • $3.92 per 12 oz box (12 servings) equaling $0.32 per serving
  • Quaker quick oats
    • $4.98 per 42 oz container (30 servings) equaling $0.17 per 1/2 cup serving
  • Quaker quick oats
    • $2.73 per 18 oz container (13 servings) equaling $0.21 per 1/2 cup serving
a bowl of cream of wheat with fruit
Cream of Wheat with fruit

Pros/Cons and Health Benefits

Cream of Wheat Pros

  • Easy and quick to prepare: The original variety only takes 2 1/2 minutes after the liquid has come to a boil.
  • Affordable compared to other healthy boxed cereals.
  • Helps provide energy throughout the day: It is rich in complex carbohydrates. This helps to fuel the body without raising blood sugar too high.
  • Rich in calcium which helps with the following:
    • Help the muscles to function properly.
    • Build and maintain strong bones.
    • Helps nerve function.
  • Rich in iron which helps with the following:
    • Essential in the creation of red blood cells.
    • Vital for growth and development.
  • Rich in B vitamins which help benefits the following:
    • Nerve function.
    • Brain function.
    • Cardiovascular disease.
    • Red blood cells.
    • Digestion.
    • Energy levels.

Find out if there is a difference in benefits between steel cut and regular in my article here.

Cream of Wheat Cons

  • Contain gluten: This product contains gluten. Gluten-sensitive people or those with celiac disease may suffer adverse side effects consuming gluten-containing foods.
  • Higher in sodium: Especially if adding salt as per their cooking directions when using water.
  • Not made from whole grains: The whole germ is removed from farina during processing.
Cooking oatmeal on the stove
Cooking oatmeal on the stove

Oatmeal Pros

  • Help to promote weight loss: It’s high in fiber, protein and satiety index. Cooked is lower in calories.
  • Gluten-free: Oats are naturally gluten-free, although it’s important to check the label. Due to cross-contamination not all are gluten-free.
  • Rich in potassium:
    • Helps reduce sodium and fluid build-up.
    • Helps reduce blood pressure.
    • Help the kidneys function properly.
  • Rich in magnesium:
    • Blood pressure
    • Insomnia
    • Nerve function
    • Blood sugar
    • Muscle
  • Rich in phosphorus:
    • Muscle contraction and recovery.
    • Promote bone and teeth strength.
    • Promote healthy nerve conduction.
    • Help the body store and manage energy.
    • Help the kidneys remove waste.

Oatmeal Cons

  • Bland tasting: Most people add something to improve the taste. Often the added ingredient may be unhealthy.
  • Contain phytic acid: This could hinder the body’s absorption of essential minerals and vitamins found in oats. Some people soak the oats over night to reduce the phytic acid.

Is there a difference between overnight oats and regular? Find out in my article, article.

How To Store

Whichever you choose or have on hand, proper storage is crucial. How you store either one can affect how they taste or how long they last. Therefore, let’s examine how to store these two breakfast foods.

Cream of Wheat and oatmeal have similar storage methods. Store either one unopened in a cool, dry place away from the heat and sun. After opening, they should be tightly covered in its original container, glass or plastic container or resealable bag.

Either one opened or uncooked does not have to be refrigerated.

After cooking, they both should be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Kevin Garce storing quick oats with breakfast cereal in his kitchen cabinet at home
Storing quick oats with breakfast cereal in my kitchen cabinet at home

Additional Article Resources  6  7 8 9 

Is eggs better for breakfast? Find out in my article here.

Read Next – More Food Articles!

Muesli vs Oatmeal – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. USDA: Cereals, oats, regular and quick, unenriched, cooked with water (includes boiling and microwaving), without salt[]
  2. USDA: Cereals, Cream Of Wheat, instant, prepared with water, without salt[]
  3. Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods[]
  4. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: A satiety index of common foods[]
  6. Cream of Wheat: Cream of Wheat[]
  7. Harvard T.H. Chan: Oats[]
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Instant Oatmeal Increases Satiety and Reduces Energy Intake Compared to a Ready-to-Eat Oat-Based Breakfast Cereal: A Randomized Crossover Trial[]
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity: when gluten free is not a fad[]

Similar Posts