There are many different types of oatmeal available including steel cut. This may make it confusing about which one to pick. Knowing which one is better may sway your decision. Therefore, is steel-cut oatmeal better than regular oatmeal?
Steel cut oatmeal is better than regular oatmeal due to its lower glycemic index score. Steel cut oats are less processed by the manufacturer and are thicker than rolled oats. For this reason steel cut oatmeal is absorbed and digested slower reducing sugar spikes.
This article will explain all the differences between the two including their nutrients and glycemic index scores. In addition, I’ll examine their tastes, textures, costs and health benefits.
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
The Difference Between Steel Cut Oatmeal and Oatmeal
Take a quick glance of the cereal isle shelf, and you’ll likely see four different types of oatmeal very quickly. Two of them is steel cut and regular oatmeal. Let’s find out how they differ from each other. What’s the difference between oatmeal and steel-cut?
The main difference is steel cut oatmeal takes longer to cook than oatmeal. Steel cut oatmeal takes 20-30 minutes to cook while regular oatmeal takes 5 minutes. Steel cut oatmeal has a heartier, chewier texture than regular oatmeal. Regular oatmeal is more processed by the manufacturer.
Other differences between steel cut and regular oatmeal:
Steel Cut Oatmeal
- Steel cut oats are chopped with sharp metal blades and have a tougher texture prior to cooking.
- Steel cut oats are cut smaller and not flattened.
- Steel cut oatmeal is chewier than traditional oatmeal.
- Steel cut oatmeal tastes nuttier than oatmeal.
- Steel cut oats take 20-30 minutes to cook on the stovetop.
- Steel cut oatmeal is sometimes called Irish oatmeal.
- Regular oatmeal is made by steaming the oat groats until they’re soft. The groats are then rolled into flakes.
- Regular oats are rolled and flattened and steel cut oats are not rolled.
- Regular oatmeal is less chewy than steel cut but more chewier than instant or quick oats.
- Regular oatmeal can absorb water quicker than steel cut and take 5 minutes to cook after adding them to boiling water.
- Regular oatmeal may be called oatmeal, rolled oats or old-fashioned oatmeal.
The Pros and Cons of Steel Cut Oatmeal and Regular Oatmeal
Steel Cut Oatmeal Pros
- Less processed than regular oatmeal.
- Heartier texture and taste.
- Lower glycemic index.
Steel Cut Oatmeal Cons
- Take longer to cook.
- May be too chewy or coarser for some people who prefer creamier oatmeal.
- Less cooking time than steel cut oatmeal.
- Medium texture and less chewy than steel cut oatmeal.
- Heartier than instant oatmeal.
- More processed than steel-cut oats.
- Higher glycemic index than steel cut.
- Too chewy for those who prefer instant, creamier oatmeal.
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Steel Cut Oatmeal vs Oatmeal: Nutrient Comparison
The following table is a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in steel cut oats and oatmeal.
|Oatmeal (100 g)||Steel Cut Oats (100 g)|
|Protein||13.2 g||13.3 g|
|Carbohydrates||67.7 g||67.8 g|
|Fiber||10.1 g||9.3 g|
|Fat||6.52 g||7.19 g|
|Sugar||0.99 g||1.00 g|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0 IU|
|Beta-carotene||0 mcg||0 mcg|
|Vitamin C||0 mg||0 mg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.46 mg||1.00 mg|
|Magnesium||138 mg||136 mg|
|Phosphorous||410 mg||460 mg|
|Potassium||362 mg||384 mg|
|Iron||4.25 mg||3.81 mg|
|Copper||0.39 mg||0.31 mg|
|Calcium||52 mg||52 mg|
|Zinc||3.64 mg||3.60 mg|
Steel cut oatmeal and oatmeal contain the same types of nutrients. At first it’s difficult to determine which one provides a higher percentage than the other. This causes many people to ask, why are steel cut oats healthier than regular oatmeal?
Steel cut oats are healthier than regular oatmeal due to its lower glycemic index. Steel cut oats are digested and absorbed more slowly than regular oatmeal. For this reason there is a slower rise in blood sugar and less sugar spikes. The percentage of nutrients in steel cut oats and regular oats are similar.
Regular oatmeal is healthy also and should not be discounted. Both oatmeals are highly nutritious and excellent sources of fiber, protein and minerals. The oatmeal chosen may come down to taste, preparation time or preference.
Keep reading down further in the article for more information about the glycemic index.
Find out the nutrient difference between instant and regular oatmeal in my article, Instant Oatmeal vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference?
Steel Cut Oatmeal vs Oatmeal: Taste and Texture
Many times people choose one food over the other because of its taste or according to their mood.
Since there are some similarities between the two, like both being oats, many people wonder and ask, does steel cut oatmeal taste like oatmeal?
Steel cut oatmeal tastes nuttier than regular oatmeal. The bigger difference between the two is the texture. Oatmeal is creamier than the chewier, more coarse steel cut.
Why do steel cut oats taste different?
Steel cut oats taste different than regular oatmeal due to its thicker and less processed oats. Regular oats are steamed and rolled which flattens them more than the less processed steel cut oats.
Regular oatmeal has a chewier texture than the smoother instant oatmeal.
I polled some of my readers and people in food groups I belong to. I asked, do you prefer the taste of steel cut oatmeal or regular oatmeal for breakfast?
- 72% said they preferred the taste of regular oatmeal.
- 23% said they preferred the taste of steel cut oatmeal.
- 5% said they had no preference.
How to Cook Steel Cut Oatmeal
- Bring the water or milk to a boil in a medium pot.
- Stir in the oats and reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer uncovered over low heat for 25-30 minutes while stirring occasionally.
- Spray the inside of a 5-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
- Add the water or milk and oats.
- Cover and turn the heat setting to low.
- Cook until the oats are tender, about 7-8 hours.
- Stir, cool and then serve.
Microwave only for 3 minute steel cut packets
- Empty the packet into a microwave safe bowl.
- Add up to 2/3 cup of water and stir. Water must be used to cook.
- Microwave at 50% power for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir again and let it slightly cool and thicken before eating.
- Milk can be added after cooking.
Since microwaves vary in power, the cooking time may need to be adjusted.
Preparation Tips for Steel Cut Oatmeal
Here are some tips to get you started on preparing steel cut oatmeal:
- Regular steel cut oats can be cooked on the stovetop. 3 minute steel cut packets have to be cooked in the microwave. The method you choose will depend on your preference and how much time you have in the mornings.
- Monitor the oatmeal to avoid burning. Keep an eye on the oats as they’re cooking so the mixture isn’t ruined. In addition, avoid using high heat and instead use low heat to cook the oats gradually.
- Add enough liquid. Dry oatmeal can congeal after cooling, resulting in an undesirable texture. Using enough milk with the oats will keep them smoother and creamier.
- Add the toppings after the oatmeal has cooked. This is to prevent the toppings from cooking, burning or losing their crunchiness, texture or taste.
Check out the pros and cons of overnight oatmeal compared to regular oatmeal in my article, Overnight Oats vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference? We Compare.
How to Cook Oatmeal
- Bring the water or milk to a boil.
- Stir in the oats.
- Cook about 5 minutes over medium heat stirring occasionally.
- Combine milk or water with the oats in a medium microwave-safe bowl.
- Microwave on high for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir before serving.
Since microwaves vary in power, the cooking time may need to be adjusted. The same cooking tips for steel cut oatmeal should be followed for regular oatmeal except using medium heat.
Steel Cut Oatmeal and Oatmeal Costs
It seems every time I pay at the supermarket the price is higher than the last time. Not only that but it also seems I have less groceries in my shopping cart.
The cost of food certainly matters to most people. The price may sway your decision about which one to use in your meals more often. Therefore, which costs more, steel cut oatmeal or oatmeal?
Steel cut oatmeal and oatmeal have a similar price per serving. The average price for steel cut oatmeal is $0.18 per 40 gram serving. The average price for regular oatmeal is $0.18 per 40 gram serving.
I decided to conduct a search of various different stores to compare the price of both.
I checked Shoprite supermarket for the prices of steel cut oatmeal and oatmeal:
- Wholesome Pantry Organic old-fashioned regular
- $2.49 per 18 oz container (13 servings) equaling $0.19 per 40 g serving
- Wholesome Pantry Organic Steel Cut Oats
- $3.49 per 30 oz container (21 servings) equaling $0.17 per 40 g serving
I then checked Walmart for steel cut oatmeal and oatmeal prices:
- Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
- $4.98 per 42 oz container (30 servings) equaling $0.17 per 40 g serving
- Quaker Steel Cut Oats
- $4.00 per 30 oz container (21 servings) equaling $0.19 per 40 g serving
Check out Amazon for oatmeal products. Their prices are often more affordable with free shipping.
Find out which had more nutrients, oatmeal or granola in my article, Granola vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.
How To Store Steel Cut Oatmeal and Oatmeal
Whichever you choose or have on hand, proper storage is important. How you store oatmeal can affect how long they last before going bad and how they taste. Therefore, how do you store steel cut oatmeal or regular oatmeal?
Store unopened steel cut oatmeal and oatmeal in a cool, dry place away from the heat and sun. Opened regular or steel cut oatmeal should be tightly covered in its original container, glass or plastic container or resealable bag.
Cooked steel cut or regular oatmeal should be refrigerated in a sealed container up to 3-4 days.
Opened, resealed oatmeal can be stored up to one year. Always check the dates on the packaging. Typically, the “best if used by date” is a quality suggestion 3.
Find out how oatmeal compared to quinoa in my article, Quinoa vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? Let’s Compare.
Steel Cut Oatmeal and Oatmeal Glycemic Index
Knowing the glycemic index of food is important especially if blood sugar levels are a concern. Avoiding blood sugar spikes is an important part of consuming healthy food.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises the blood sugar in the blood 4. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, nerves, kidneys and eyes 5.
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
How blood sugars 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.
Having more knowledge of the glycemic index of food and how it raises blood sugar, many people ask, does steel cut oatmeal or oatmeal have a higher glycemic index?
Steel cut oatmeal has a lower glycemic index than regular oatmeal due to the extra processing of the regular oats. Steel cut oatmeal has a glycemic index of 42 while rolled regular oats have a glycemic index of 55.
Steel-cut oats have a lower GI because they are the least processed. Rolled oats are a little higher because they’ve been partially cooked. Quick oats or instant oats have been steamed and rolled into thinner pieces to cook quicker. This process increases their GI.
Find out if grits or oatmeal has the better satiety in my article, Grits vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison.
The Health Benefits of Steel Cut Oatmeal and Oatmeal
If you’re seeking a healthy breakfast option, you really can’t go wrong with either kind of oatmeal. The nutrition content of oats only varies slightly between steel-cut and regular oatmeal.
The following are the benefits received from the nutrients contained in both.
Are Steel Cut Oatmeal and Oatmeal Good For Weight Loss?
Steel cut oatmeal and regular oatmeal are good for weight loss due to their high fiber content and satiety score. Fiber rich oatmeal is beneficial for weight loss because studies have shown adding 30 grams of fiber to your diet can help you lose extra weight.
Another reason steel cut oatmeal or regular oatmeal is good for weight loss is their satiety index score.
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 6.
The table below shows the satiety scores of oatmeal and a few other foods.
|Food||Satiety Index Score|
Of all the 38 foods, oatmeal scored the fourth highest only beat by boiled potatoes, ling fish and oranges.
- Steel cut oatmeal contains 384 mg of potassium per 100 grams
- Oatmeal contains 362 mg of potassium per 100 grams
Some medical experts recommend the potassium to sodium ratio of 4:1. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 7.
Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium reducing fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 8.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 9. The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose.
- Steel cut oatmeal contains 52 mg of calcium per 100 grams
- Oatmeal contains 52 mg of calcium per 100 grams
Calcium is important for the heart and blood pressure. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure by helping in the controlling of the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 10.
Calcium also helps the following:
- Help the muscles to function properly.
- Helps nerve function.
- Build and maintain strong bones.
Find out how oatmeal compared to brown rice in my article, Brown Rice vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? Let’s Compare.
- Oatmeal contains 10.1 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
- Steel cut oatmeal contains 9.3 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
Both foods are high in soluble fiber, which is helpful for many reasons 11. What makes fiber soluble is it dissolves in water.
Soluble fiber is known for the following:
- Help overall digestive health.
- Decrease the risk of diabetes by managing the blood glucose levels.
- Helps avoid constipation and have a more regular stool.
- Aids greatly in weight management because it allows you to feel full faster and eat less.
- Oatmeal contains 138 mg of magnesium per 100 grams
- Steel cut oatmeal contains 136 mg of magnesium per 100 grams
Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels stable and balanced. Recent scientific research examined previous studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 12.
Magnesium helps control the following:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
- Nerve function
In the heart and muscles, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat 13.
One reason many people supplement with magnesium in the evening is because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.
Is oatmeal better than eggs? Find out in my article here, Eggs vs Oatmeal – Which Is Better? Let’s Compare.
- Steel cut oatmeal contains 460 mg of phosphorus per 100 grams
- Oatmeal contains 410 mg of phosphorus per 100 grams
Phosphorus has been shown in scientific studies to help with the following:
- Help the body store and manage energy.
- Promote healthy nerve conduction.
- Promote bone and teeth strength.
- Muscle contraction.
- Muscle recovery.
- Help the kidneys remove waste.
Steel cut oatmeal and oatmeal are both made from oats. The oats are naturally gluten-free. However, the oatmeal product you choose may not be gluten free due to cross-contamination. Always check the label to determine if its gluten free.
Gluten free oatmeal might be a great substitute for other gluten-heavy items of a similar taste. Even those who don’t have a completely gluten-free diet may benefit from cutting down on their gluten.
Important: Although oats and granola made from just oats and honey are gluten free, they may come in contact with gluten-containing grains in storage or during transportation. Most of the Quaker oat products have solved this issue and label those products gluten free. Always check the label of your oatmeal or granola products to determine if its gluten free.
- Oatmeal contains 4.25 mg of iron per 100 grams
- Steel cut oatmeal contains 3.81 mg of iron per 100 grams
Much higher in iron than other grains, oatmeal is an excellent choice if you need getting your daily value of iron. Iron is essential in the creation of red blood cells and is a necessary part of any healthy diet.
Iron is also vital for growth and development, as some hormones need iron to be appropriately balanced 14.
Find out how oatmeal compared to Cream of Wheat in my article, Cream of Wheat vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference? We Compare.
Read Next – More Oatmeal vs Food Articles!
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- USDA: Cereals, oats, regular and quick, not fortified, dry
- USDA: Quaker Steel Cut Oats
- Michigan State University: Dry oatmeal needs careful handling
- Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: A satiety index of common foods
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure
- Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mechanisms linking dietary fiber, gut microbiota and colon cancer prevention
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis
- National Institutes of Health: Magnesium
- National Institutes of Health: Iron
- Michigan State University: Steel cut oats are a nutrient rich way to start your day
- Bob’s Red Mill: What Are the Benefits of Steel Cut Oats?
- Colorado State University: Nutrition News – What’s the deal with steel-cut oats?
- UMass Chan Medical School: Why Steel Cut Oats?
- Wikipedia: Steel-cut oats
- Quaker: How to Prepare Quaker Oats
- Quaker: How does Quaker make Gluten Free Oats?
- Harvard T.H. Chan: Oats
- 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
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity: when gluten free is not a fad
- 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
- Oldways Whole Grains Council: Whole Grains A to Z
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Oatmeal – Whole Grain Goodness
- Iowa State University: Nutrition Education: Oatmeal