healthy porridge

Is porridge good for you?  

Well, it was good enough for Goldilocks and the Three Bears… but is it good for us human beings?

Porridge is a lot of things – filling, easy to make, as well as something you can grab a bowl of at any time of the day, not just at breakfast time. You can make it with water or milk and you can sprinkle it with lots of different toppings to give it some more flavour. Topping ideas include bananas, blueberries, apples, or a drizzle of honey or syrup. (For more topping inspo read, ‘Pimp your porridge.’)

What is porridge?

It’s a dish that’s usually eaten for breakfast that’s made from many different grains, such as buckwheat, brown rice, spelt, quinoa or amaranth. It’s also possible to make porridge from oats. When it’s cooked in this way it’s called oatmeal.1 One cup of oats contains:2
  1. Protein - 26.4g
  2. Carbohydrates - 103g
  3. Fibre - 16.5g
  4. Fat - 10.8g
  5. Manganese - 383% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
  6. Copper - 49% of the RDA
  7. Zinc - 4% of the RDA
  8. Phosphorus - 82% of the RDA
  9. Thiamine - 79% of the RDA
Meanwhile, one cup of wheatgerm, another frequently-used ingredient that’s used to make porridge, contains:3
  1. 1. Calories - 414
  2. Protein - 26.6g of protein
  3. Carbohydrates - 59.6g
  4. Fibre - 15.2g
  5. Fat - 11.2g
  6. As well as B vitamins, selenium, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium

Who’d have thought that a humble cup/bowl of porridge could be packed with so much goodness?! Now, let’s move on to how you cook it…

The best way to cook/make porridge

If you’ve been making porridge for literally forever, then you’ve most probably perfected your porridge-making process so that the end result is just how you like it. But if you’ve never made it before and quite like the idea of giving it a try, here’s a basic porridge recipe to help get you started:4

What you’ll need:

  • 50g of porridge oats
  • 350ml of milk or water, or a combination of the two
  • Any toppings of your choice

What you need to do:

Cooking porridge on the hob

Pour 50g of porridge oats into a saucepan and then add all of the milk or the water. Bring the mixture to the boil and then let it simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Stir it from time-to-time, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour it into a bowl(s) and add your toppings.

Cooking it in the microwave

Mix the oats, milk/water together in a microwave-proof dish then microwave the mixture on high for 5 minutes. Halfway through, take it out and give it a stir. Leave it to stand for 2 minutes before adding your toppings and tucking into it.

So now you know what porridge is, how to make it, and it’s nutritional make-up, let’s focus on that all-important question that probably led you to this article in the first place – Is porridge healthy?

What are the benefits of eating porridge?

5 health benefits of eating oats and oatmeal – at a glance5

  1. Oats are uber nutritious – as the nutritional value lists show at the start of this article. Fibre, manganese, phosphorous, copper, iron, zinc, etc. it’s all in there. Oats happen to be one of the most nutritious-packed foods around.

  2. Oats are rich in carbs and fibre – as well as higher in protein and fat than most other grains.

  3. They contain a specific type of fibre – known as beta-glucan, which is a soluble fibre. This fibre alone can lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and increase the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract, among many other things.

  4. Oats can help balance blood sugar levels – studies have found that oats can potentially help even out blood sugar levels because of the beta-glucan content, which helps delay when glucose is absorbed into the blood flow.

  5. Oatmeal porridge fills you up - the beta-glucan that’s present in oatmeal is also responsible for delaying the time it takes for the stomach to empty the food that’s in it. As a result, this can make us feel fuller for longer after we’ve eaten it.

How many calories in porridge?

Generally speaking, one cup of oats contains 607, while one cup of wheatgerm contains 414 calories.6 However, the type of porridge you use and the way you make it, will impact the overall calorie content. For example:7

  • A 3/4-cup of classic oatmeal porridge - contains 124 calories when made with water, or 215 calories if made with non-fat milk

  • Instant porridge contains more calories - a sachet flavoured with apple or cinnamon contains 157 calories when made with water or 248 calories if made with non-fat milk

Is porridge good for weight loss?

Eating food that’s filling can potentially help with weight loss because it helps you to eat fewer calories, and therefore lose weight.8 A study published in Nutrition Research in 2015 revealed that eating oatmeal can increase the chance of maintaining a healthy body weight. Meanwhile, research carried out on rats that looked at the link between alternative porridge recipes – made from quinoa and amaranth – found that the rats responded better to insulin. And, as we all know, insulin can help prevent the blood sugar dips that can make us feel hungry. However, it’s important to note here that this research has not been applied to humans.9 Shop Food & Drink
bhupesh-panchal2

Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Regulatory Affairs

  • Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019
  • Qualifications: Masters Degree in Toxicology, BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

Bhupesh specialises in vitamins & minerals nutrition, health benefits & safety of botanicals and traditional herbal medicines. View Bhupesh's LinkedIn profile. In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.

Last updated: 27 November 2020

FoodFood & DrinkNutrition