Oat bran (also called cereal bran) is the hard outer layer of an oat grain that has been processed into bran. Commonly used as an additive in baked goods such as muffins, cookies, bread, pancakes, scones, and cereals, the bran is prized by cooks for the robust, nutty flavor and unique texture it brings to food. It is easily purchased in bulk from a whole food store or organic market, which is good news for health enthusiasts whom are looking for an alternative to refined grains.
As with wheat bran and other grain-based foods, oat bran should be stored in a fridge or vacuum-sealed compartment to ensure that it doesn’t become rancid. If your bran starts to taste bitter, then it should be thrown away regardless of how well it was stored, since bitterness is a sign of rancidity.
List of Health Benefits
- More than anything else, oat bran is extremely high in fiber. A single cup (58g) of oat bran will provide you with 58% of your RDA of dietary fiber. Fiber is essential for the human body because it absorbs large amounts of water in the bowels, which softens stools and thus prevents constipation. Also, for the same reason, fibrous foods make you feel ‘fuller’ than most other foods, which prevents overeating and thus aids weight loss.
- One cup of oat bran provides us with 28% of our RDA of iron, an essential component of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein located in red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen to our bodies’ tissues. The importance of hemoglobin, coupled with the fact that our bodies cannot make iron itself and needs to derive it from external sources, means that iron-rich foods like oat bran are especially valuable to us.
- One cup of oat bran also provides us with: 265% of our RDA of manganese, 61% of our RDA of selenium, 55% of our RDA of magnesium, 19% of our RDAs of zinc and copper, 15% of our RDA of potassium, 69% of our RDA of phosphorous, 33% of our RDA of protein, and 73% of our RDA of thiamine, an important B vitamin. Moreover, oat bran is low in calories, and contains no cholesterol or sodium.
Despite oat bran’s impressive nutritional profile, it is important to remember that the bran is seldom added to truly healthy foods. For example, many bran muffins advertised as nutritious because of their oat or wheat bran content are often coated in syrup or butter to disguise their taste. Likewise, many bran-rich cereals also contain extremely toxic ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or refined sugar, which counterbalance any of the benefits the bran provides.
Therefore, we encourage all our readers to practise discernment when purchasing foods marketed as high in bran (oat bran or otherwise). If possible, purchase some oat bran yourself and make some delicious baked goods using it – at least then you can monitor the ingredients you use. A homemade oat bran muffin made with Xylitol or blackstrap molasses rather than sugar, for example, is one of the healthiest desserts you could ever eat!