The difference between types of oats is not always immediately apparent. When you visit the oat aisle in the supermarket, you may be overwhelmed choosing from many different options. For example, what is the actual difference between oatmeal and oat bran?
The primary difference between oat bran and oatmeal is how each is made. Oatmeal is a whole grain while oat bran is the skin of the grain leftover after the grains have been processed. Oat bran has higher nutritional benefits than oatmeal like higher fiber content and fewer calories.
However, there are also noticeable differences in the taste and texture of oat bran and oatmeal. Continue reading to find out more about the similarities and differences between the two grains and the pros and cons of consuming each.
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Oatmeal vs Oat Bran
Oatmeal: A Basic Overview
Oatmeal is the whole oat grain or the “groat.” The groat can then be processed in a few different ways 1.
The two most common processing options result in either steel-cut oats or rolled oats. Steel-cut oats are processed by being cut into small pieces with a steel blade and rolled oats are rolled flat.
Pros of Oatmeal
- Chewier texture
- More affordable
Oatmeal has a chewier texture, therefore it may be preferable for those who do not enjoy the creaminess of oat bran. In addition, it’s cheaper than oat bran. Those of you on a strict budget will enjoy many of the health benefits of oats without breaking the bank if you choose oatmeal.
Additionally, oatmeal is a versatile food, meaning you can eat it in many different ways. This is a pro for people who do not like to eat the same meal all the time. Whole oats can be mixed into many different recipes to add variety to your mealtime routine 2.
Cons of Oatmeal
- Higher in carbs
- Can cause bloat or gas
- May worsen irritable bowel syndrome
- Contain physic acid
Oatmeal is high in carbohydrates 3. Due to this, it may not be a good option for those on low-carb or keto diets. Although oatmeal is considered a healthy carbohydrate.
It can cause bloating or gas due to the amount of fiber in it. Some people are allergic to oats, and they can worsen the side effects of irritable bowel syndrome.
One concern with eating any type of oats is the presence of phytic acid in the grain. Phytic acid has anti-nutrient properties, which means it can block your body from absorbing certain nutrients like zinc and calcium 4.
You can mitigate this effect by adding lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to your oats, but it will affect the flavor.
( Oatmeal vs Oat Bran: Nutrients )
|Oat Bran, raw
|Fat||2.8 g||2.5 g|
|Protein||6.9 g||5.0 g|
|Carbs||26 g||28 g|
|Fiber||6.2 g||4.0 g|
|Sugar||0.6 g||0 g|
|Iron||2.16 mg||1.70 mg|
|Calcium||23.20 mg||20.00 mg|
|Potassium||226 mg||140 mg|
Looking at the nutrient table above makes one ask, is oat bran better than oatmeal? Oat bran is better than oatmeal because it contains more protein, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium and contains fewer calories.
Find out how the nutrients in oatmeal compared to whole-wheat bread in my article, Bread vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison.
Oat Bran: A Basic Overview
Oat bran is just part of the grain, the outer layer 5. Thus, oat bran is not a whole grain like oatmeal is. However, oat bran makes up for this fact with several health benefits compared to oatmeal. It can be eaten in many similar ways to whole oatmeal but has different health benefits.
Pros of Oat Bran
- Lower carbohydrates
- Lower soluble fiber
- Tastes sweeter and nuttier
- More fiber
- More protein
Oat bran has a lower carbohydrate count than oatmeal. This makes oat bran ideal for people who are on low-carb diets. Oat bran can lower cholesterol because of its soluble fiber content 6.
It makes a good alternative to oatmeal for people with diabetes, as it is lower in carbohydrates. In addition, it has a higher fiber and protein content than regular oatmeal, making you feel fuller for longer. This is great for those who are trying to reduce overeating habits.
Additionally, oat bran has a slightly different flavor than oatmeal, and some people say it tastes sweeter and nuttier.
If you prefer the natural taste of oat bran, you are less likely to add extra sugar and artificial flavors. This is useful because many people add unhealthy additional flavoring to regular oatmeal, which detracts from its nutritional benefits.
Is there a difference between overnight oats and oatmeal? Find out in my article, Overnight Oats vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference? We Compare.
Cons of Oat Bran
- Pricier than oatmeal
- Can cause bloat or gas
- May worsen irritable bowel syndrome
Oat bran can be pricier than regular oatmeal, so it is not ideal for people on a tight budget. It is also not as readily available as regular oatmeal.
Furthermore, it shares many of the same cons as oatmeal due to the fact it comes from the same plant. Some people are sensitive to oat bran because of allergies or irritable bowel syndrome. It can make you have more frequent bowel movements due to the high fiber content.
To help offset the higher cost of oat bran, check the current prices on Amazon where you can find them cheaper than the local supermarket, Oat Bran.
Should You Use Oatmeal or Oat Bran?
You should choose oat bran for additional health benefits and if you prefer lower carbohydrates and a creamier texture. Choose oatmeal for a chewier texture, more carbohydrates and cheaper prices.
A significant factor when it comes to oat bran versus oatmeal, may be the price point. If you’re following a recipe that uses a large number of oats, oatmeal may be a better option due to its widespread availability and low cost. However, if you have room in the budget for oat bran, feel free to use it as well.
Find out how oatmeal compared to quinoa in my article, Quinoa vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? Let’s Compare.
Using Oat Bran Instead of Oatmeal
For different recipes many clients ask me, can I use oat bran instead of oatmeal?
Oat bran can be used instead of oatmeal in recipes as long as equal amounts are used. Substitute oat bran for oatmeal for traditional breakfast oats. The main difference to note is the flavor and texture will vary slightly substituting oat bran for oatmeal.
Oatmeal and oat bran have their differences, but when it comes to using them, they have about the same use 7.
Find out if oatmeal or brown rice has the better satiety index in my article, Brown Rice vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? Let’s Compare.
Wrapping Up The Oatmeal vs Oat Bran
All in all, the difference in benefits between oatmeal and oat bran 8 are slightly noticeable but not significant. If you have a definite preference between the oats, it won’t hurt to pick the one you prefer.
They both have their own share of pros and cons, but both are a healthy addition to your diet.
Oatmeal and oat bran can be used largely interchangeably. You can substitute oat bran for oatmeal in recipes and baking, and you can use either for a healthy breakfast. The important thing is to choose the one appealing to you in terms of texture and flavor.
I compared everything between oatmeal and Cream of Wheat in my article, Cream of Wheat vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference? We Compare.
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- Wikipedia: Oatmeal
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Oatmeal-Containing Breakfast is Associated with Better Diet Quality and Higher Intake of Key Food Groups and Nutrients Compared to Other Breakfasts in Children
- Nutrition Value: Oatmeal
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Reduction of physic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains
- Wikipedia: Oat
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Nutritional advantages of oats and opportunities for its processing as value added foods – a review
- Harvard T.H. Chan: Oats
- ScienceDirect: Oat Bran