Is It Safe To Consume Oats During Pregnancy?

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Oats are a nutritious cereal grain rich in soluble fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that can boost health over time. Hence, eating whole-grain foods, such as oats during pregnancy seems a healthy choice. Most people eat oats to lose weight and maintain good health, but the same may not be suitable when pregnant. Since oats can cause gastrointestinal issues in sensitive individuals, you may want to know if oats are a safe choice for pregnant women. So, read this post to learn about oats’ safety for expecting mothers, their possible health benefits, side effects, and appropriate ways to include oats in your pregnancy diet.

Is It Safe To Eat Oats During Pregnancy?

Yes, oats are safe to eat during pregnancy as they contain all the essential nutrients required for the mother and the baby. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, it is advisable for pregnant women to consume whole grains such as oats, wheat, and barley for proper nutrition (1).

Benefits Of Eating Oats During Pregnancy

Oats are beneficial for pregnant women for a variety of reasons.

1. Excellent source of energy

You will need a constant dose of energy during pregnancy. The rich carbohydrates and calories present in oats give you the much-needed instant energy boost (2).

2. Complex carbohydrates ensure slow digestion

Oats contain three main structures, bran, endosperm and germ. Unlike simple carbs, complex carbs take time to break down and digest. This helps to keep the blood sugar levels in check and lowers the risk of gestational diabetes. Slow digestion also ensures weight gain in a healthy way.

3. Dietary fiber prevents constipation

Constipation is a common complaint during pregnancy. Oats contain a considerable amount of soluble fiber and will help ease digestion, improve bowel movements and thus treat constipation (3).

4. Folic acid helps fetal development

White Oats are a natural source of folate, the enriched variety supplies the folic acid. Folic acid plays a vital role in the development of the fetal brain and nervous system. It thus reduces the risk of congenital disabilities when consumed during early pregnancy.

5. Iron minimizes the risk of anemia

Intake of oats every day gives you the required iron, which decreases the likeliness of getting anemia (4).

6. Vitamins B1 and E

Vitamin B1 in oats is essential for breaking down fat and protein in the body and keeping the mucus membranes strong and healthy. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which reduces the risk of free radical damage and keeps your skin glowing and healthy.

7. Essential minerals

Oats contain significant amounts of calcium, potassium, selenium, and phosphorus. They offer multiple benefits from bone health to teeth formation, improving immunity and fetal growth and development.

Next, know more about the nutrition oats provide.

Nutritional Value Of Oats

100 grams of instant, fortified or plain oats contain the following nutrients:

NutrientAmount
Calories389kcal
Water84.03g
Carbohydrates66g
Protein16.8g
Fiber10.6g
Fat6.9g
Sugars0.46g
Vitamins
Folic acid71mcg
Vitamin E0.07mg
Niacin0.96mg
Riboflavin0.13mg
Pyridoxine0.290mg
Vitamin A433IU
Vitamin K0.4mcg
Electrolytes
Potassium429mg
Sodium2mg
Minerals
Calcium54mg
Iron4.7mg
Phosphorus523mg
Magnesium177mg
Zinc3.9mg

g=grams; mg=milligrams; mcg=micrograms

What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Eating Oats In Pregnancy?

In addition to the health benefits, some also experience adverse side effects when they eat oats in excess.

  • Overconsumption of oats can cause diarrhea and indigestion in some women. Therefore, have them in limited quantities.
  • Some can experience intestinal blockage with overeating of oats.
  • If you have a gluten allergy, you might be allergic to oats also.

To avoid these adverse side-effects, it is important to know how to consume oats in a healthy and safe way.

Ways To Include Oats In Pregnancy Diet

Oats are versatile food with multiple uses. They are available in the form of steel cut oats, whole oats, rolled oats, oat flour and instant oats. Some simple ways of adding oats to your diet include:

  • Boil with milk or water and add honey, freshly sliced fruits or vegetables for a nutritious breakfast.
  • Oat flour is the best replacement for all-purpose flour for making cookies, pancakes, tortillas, bread, muffins and pie crusts.
  • You can add flavorings such as maple syrup, cinnamon, ice-cream, sugar, whipped sugar and more to basic oatmeal to beat pregnancy cravings.

Oats are easy to cook.Therefore, you can try out various combinations, different flavors and discover the perfect meal for yourself.


Here are a few pregnancy-friendly oat recipes:

1. Apple cinnamon oatmeal

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You will need:

  •  2/3 cup oats
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • ½tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 small apple, chopped
  • Handful of walnuts
  • Sugar as required

How to cook:

  1.  Boil milk and add oats to it
  2. Add cinnamon and keep stirring for ten minutes
  3. Add sugar according to your preference
  4. Cover the container and keep in the refrigerator overnight
  5. Next day morning, add chopped apples and walnuts to the cooked oatmeal.
  6. The meal is ready to eat.

Preparation time: 10min
Servings: 1

2. Oats vegetable soup

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  •  ½ onion, chopped
  •  ½ carrot, chopped
  •  A few florets of cauliflower
  •  2tbsp peas
  •  4 to 5 French beans, chopped
  •  3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  •  1tbsp steel-cut or rolled oats
  •  1 cup water
  • 1tsp oil
  • Salt and pepper for taste

How to cook:

  1.  Heat some oil in a pan; add onion, garlic and sauté for some time
  2.  Add oats and chopped vegetables, and stir for five minutes
  3. Add water and cook until the vegetables turn soft
  4. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and serve hot
  5. You can also add fresh lemon juice before serving

Preparation time: 15min
Servings: 2

Next, we answer a few commonly asked questions about eating oats when pregnant.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I eat oats during early pregnancy?

Yes, you can eat oats in the early stages of pregnancy as they are known to offer multiple health benefits. One of the key benefits is enriched oats supply good levels of folic acid, essential for fetal cell growth and development (5).

2. Is it normal to crave raw oats during pregnancy?

Yes, it is normal to crave for raw oats in pregnancy. But you should avoid eating them as they can lead to discomfort in the stomach and intestine.

3. Can I eat masala oats during pregnancy?

It is better not to eat masala oats as they contain dehydrated veggies, which are the processed forms of fresh vegetables. Consuming food in its natural form is always a good option during pregnancy as it tastes better and keeps you healthier.

4. Is it safe to eat oatmeal during the first trimester?

Yes, it is safe to eat oatmeal during the first trimester. It can beat morning sickness by calming the stomach.

Oats are a versatile food that can provide vital nutrients and bioactive compounds that promote long-term health. You can consume oats during pregnancy by making several sweet and savory dishes, such as porridge and soup. Also, you can use oats flour to make bread, muffin, and energy bars. Consuming oats in moderation as a part of a well-balanced diet can provide you with sufficient energy. They contain vital nutrients, such as vitamin B1, folic acid, and iron, that can contribute to your and your baby’s nutritional needs.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. For Consumers: Seven Things Pregnant Women and Parents Need to Know About Arsenic in Rice and Rice Cereal.
    https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/consumers-seven-things-pregnant-women-and-parents-need-know-about-arsenic-rice-and-rice-cereal
  2. The Food Guide Pyramid.
    http://www.ncagr.gov/agscool/nutrition/pyramid.htm
  3. The Role of Fiber.
    https://www.med.umich.edu/pfans/_pdf/hetm-2016/0816-roleoffiber.pdf
  4. Extraction of Iron from Oat Meal.
    https://web.njit.edu/~mitra/green_chemistry/EXP_6.htm
  5. James A Greenberg et al.; (2011); Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3218540/
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Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different... more

Dr. Shikha Sharma

(MBBS)
Celebrity nutrition advisor Dr. Shikha Sharma has founded Dr. Shikha’s Nutrihealth in 1998. Dr. Shikha has done her MBBS from Maulana Azad Medical College and her organization, Dr. Shikha's NutriHealth, has over 50 Ayurveda experts and nutritionists who provide consultation services to the clients. The Nutrihealth expert team handles weight loss/weight gain, PCOS, thyroid, diabetes, cholesterol, post-pregnancy weight loss and... more

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