Technically-speaking, oat bran is not a whole grain since bran is only one part of the oat grain. But thanks to its exceptionally high fibre content, oat bran is considered a whole grain.
Oat bran has long been recognized for its high soluble fibre content, the type of fibre that lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. Roughly one-half of the fibre in oat bran is soluble. One cup delivers 3 grams, the amount that's needed to lower cholesterol. Soluble fibre also helps stabilize blood sugar after eating.
When eaten as a hot cereal, oat bran also delivers B vitamins and plenty of iron, magnesium and selenium. In fact, one cup of cooked oat bran packs in 30 per cent of a day's worth of selenium, a mineral that protects cells from free radical damage, helps the thyroid gland function properly and assists in DNA production.
Notable nutrients in 1 cup (250 ml) of cooked oat bran
Source: Canadian Nutrient File, 2007b
Oat bran, made from the outer shell of the oat kernel, is sold as a finely ground meal. You can buy oat bran to cook as a hot cereal or use in baking recipes.
Oat bran is also an added ingredient in commercial cereals, muffins and breads.
You'll find oat bran in the cereal or baking section of grocery stores and natural food stores.
Since oat bran contains a little naturally-occurring fat, it is susceptible to going rancid. Look for products in well-sealed containers. If you're buying in bulk, buy from a store that has a high product turnover, and be sure the product is free from any moisture (visible as clumps) and has a faint nutty smell.
Store oat bran in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place. To prolong its shelf life, you can also store oat bran in the fridge or freezer. You can cook with oat bran directly out of the freezer - no thawing required!
To make a hot, creamy oat bran cereal, cook two parts liquid (milk, soymilk or water) to one part oat bran. Bring the liquid to a boil, add oat bran, and then simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the oat bran absorbs the liquid. Top cooked oat bran with fresh fruit and cinnamon or nutmeg and enjoy!
Raw oat bran can be added to many foods including cold cereal, yogurt, smoothies and casseroles. It's also an easy addition to baked good recipes including muffins, cookies, loaves and crisps.
To enhance oat bran's nutty flavour, you can toast it on a baking sheet at 375°F for 5 or 7 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Healthy ways to enjoy
- For hot oat bran cereal, combine 1 part oat bran with 2 parts liquid (milk or fortified soy milk) and cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Toss with fresh or dried fruit and drizzle with honey for a fibre-rich breakfast.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup (50 ml) of raw oat bran over your favourite morning cereal.
- Stir in a few tablespoons of raw oat bran into a pancake or waffle batter.
- Make a sandwich with 100% whole grain oat bran bread.
- Sprinkle oat bran on yogurt mixed with fresh berries for a tasty calcium-rich addition to lunch.
- For a crunchy breading sans fat, dip chicken breasts or fish fillets in egg white and then coat with oat bran. Bake or grill until cooked through and slightly crispy.
- Add 1/3 cup (75 ml) of oat bran to your favourite meat loaf or burger recipe. For a crunchy topping, sprinkle 2 tablespoons (25 ml) on top of meat loaf before baking.
- Add a tablespoon or two of toasted oat bran to a fruit smoothie.
- Replace some of the rolled oats in your favourite fruit crisp topping with oat bran.
Did you know?
- Preliminary studies suggest that beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre in oats, may have immune-boosting properties.
- It's suspected that oats are a descendent of ancient grains like wheat and barley. Evidence of oats date back to 2000 BC from Egyptian remains.
- Oats are a staple of the Scottish traditional diet. Scottish oat bran comes from steamed, steel cut oats that are ground into a fine meal.