Is Oatmeal Good for Diabetes?

Yes! Oatmeal is good for you even if you have diabetes or prediabetes. Remember, there are no “good” or “bad” foods. Nutrition for reversing and preventing diabetes is largely about consuming the right portions and doing what I call – eating close to the earth.

But some folks have concerns about the glycemic effect (your body’s response to carbohydrates) of oatmeal on blood sugar. You may have heard other concerns related to glyphosate, digestion issues, and nutrient malabsorption. Depending on which source you listen to, it can be very complicated to sort through all of this information. In this post, I will try to clear up the myths, lay out the facts, and provide some healthy reasons to include oats into your diet.

Digesting Oatmeal and Nutrient Absorption

Cereal grains, including regular oats, have a natural compound called phytic acid. Phytic acid, or phytates, are known as anti-nutrients, meaning they bind to other nutrients (such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron) and inhibit absorption during digestion. Phytates are formed during the maturation of many plant foods but they are predominantly found in grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes. Growing and harvesting practices can have an impact on the amount of phytic acid present in food when we eat them. In many underdeveloped countries, cereal grains are a major food component of daily life, making nutrient deficiency a public health concern. (2)

In most developed countries, nutrient deficiencies are not a concern, despite the presence of phytic acid. This is because most people eat a variety of foods in a variety of forms, making these nutrients available for absorption in the gut. That said, reducing the amount of phytic acid in your diet can have benefits – but it doesn’t mean you have to avoid oatmeal!

Sprouted oats have significantly less phytic acid than regular oats.(3) Soaking your oats for 12-24 hours can also effectively reduce the amount of phytic acid. There are many sources online for information on the soaking and sprouting process, but you may prefer just to buy sprouted oats. There are several different brands available for you to try – my favorite brand is One Degree.

Glycemic Effect

Studies show that eating oatmeal can have a positive effect on glucose control compared to a control meal. (1) This is largely due to the extra fiber (especially the B-glucan fiber) oats have to offer in a well balanced diet. You may have heard about the glycemic index which is a measure of how quickly foods can raise your blood sugar. Foods that are high in fiber generally have a lower glycemic index, making these foods better for preventing or reversing diabetes.


Glyphosate is a herbicide used in conventional agriculture on a wide variety of crops, including oats, just before harvest to dry them out. In a recent article by the EWG, they found reduced levels of glyphosate in many non-organic brands of oats from their previous studies. (5) Like all pesticides, it is best to try to eliminate your exposure as much as you can. To achieve this, it is recommended to eat organic products as much as possible and look for packaging labels that say “glyphosate-free” which indicates that the products was grown without harmful pesticides. It should be noted that glyphosate has been found in organic oats due to wind-blown residue from nearby crops. However these levels are generally very minimal to virtually undetectable.

(Bushels of!) Oatmeal Benefits

  • High in Fiber – Oats are high in fiber, specifically B-glucan which is a soluble and fermentable fiber that can help with making you feel full longer. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) recommends at least 25 grams of fiber per day. Studies show that foods high in fiber are good for preventing incidents of diabetes, aids in weight loss, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Improves insulin sensitivity – Studies show that the B-glucan in oatmeal improves glucose intolerance and insulin sensitivity (1). Why is this good for reversing and preventing diabetes? The more responsive your cells are to insulin, the lower your blood sugar will be! 
  • Easy Meal Prep – Oats are a great food to meal prep! One of the best ways to stay on track with any health goal is to plan, plan, plan. Overnight oats are a great way to plan ahead for a nutritious and satisfying breakfast (or any meal!). I’ve tried this recipe many times with fantastic results!

Final Thoughts

Oats are a good source of fiber, especially b-glucan, vitamins, minerals, and protein. As part of a balanced diet, oats can help decrease overall blood sugar, aid in weight loss, and decrease cholesterol levels. (4) Organic oats are a good choice to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals and support sustainable farming practices. At the end of the day, I recommend you start your day with a nutritious bowl of oats (no added sugar!!) and reap the benefits of this wonderful grain!