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Oatmeal! healthy substitute for starchy solids



With many Nigerians becoming aware of the need to be fit and healthy, more attention is being paid to what is consumed and the lifestyle adopted.

Consequently, there now abound in the market all sorts of natural healthy food items and drinks, together with how to prepare them in such a manner that they retain almost, if not all the nutrients after cooking.

For instance, some people now prefer preparing their ‘swallow’ with oatmeal, as a substitute for the Nigerian starchy ‘swallows’.


Oatmeal swallow is basically oatmeal flour made from blending quick or rolled oatmeal.

A large percentage of Nigerian common dishes comprise soups and starchy ‘swallows,’ such as pounded yam, eba and fufu.

Due to this, Nigerians tend to consume a lot of starch and carbs, which experts say is not a bad idea, if taken occasionally.

However, there is a problem when these are taken on a regular basis and in large proportions, which is what many Nigerians do.

It was the need to change this and look for healthier options that led the ‘FitFam’ community to search for better options.

Explaining why oatmeal is better than other carbohydrate swallow, Natachi Ugbajah, a nutrionist with health and healthy living said: “Oatmeal is a healthier swallow option, due to its nutritional benefits and also because it digests slowly keeping you fuller throughout the day without making you tired.

Oatmeal is also considered a better carbohydrate source because it has a lower glycemic index and they tend to contain more fibre than wheat, Fufu, Amala, Eba, pounded yam, etc.

“Oatmeal is naturally gluten-free, but most of it is processed where grains with gluten are also processed, meaning they can no longer be said to be gluten- free.

If you are gluten intolerant, make sure the label says gluten-free before buying oatmeal. ”

She added that some of the benefits of taking oatmeal as a swallow option include its being a welcome addition to a diabetic patient’s diet and is also great for weight loss.

“Diabetes is a metabolic condition that affects how the body either produces or uses insulin, making it difficult to maintain blood sugar, which is crucial for the health of those with diabetes,” she said.


“So, when managing blood sugar, it is important to control the amount of carbohydrates eaten in one sitting, since carbs directly affect the blood sugar.

This means eating nutritious and high fibre meals improves overall health and helps in maintaining blood sugar.

“Oatmeal offers a host of health benefits, as long as the portion is controlled.

One cup of cooked oatmeal contains approximately 30 grams of carbs, which can fit into a healthy meal plan for people with diabetes.”

She said what qualifies oatmeal as great for weight loss is the fact that it contains the good kind of carbohydrate (complex carbohydrate).

Thanks to the high fibre content and low glycemic index, it can help regulate blood sugar and also keeps you full longer, which helps in managing weight gain.

“It is a good source of long-term energy and regulates your digestion. It is also heart healthy and can lower cholesterol.

However, diabetic patients with gastro paresis (a delay in gastric emptying) might suffer flatulence and bloating from oatmeal consumption because the high fibre it contains can be harmful to them,” she said.


While oatmeal is a very healthy meal option, there might be a problem of accessibility and affordability, seeing that it is not a Nigerian product.

This might discourage people from embracing a healthy lifestyle or make it harder to maintain.

But Ugbajah was of the view that this is not enough to discourage people from going for the food.

She went further to offer some other possible healthy Nigerian swallow options that can replace it.

She said: “The truth is that oatmeal is becoming affordable and is available in the Nigerian market.

But we also have some healthy swallow options that are grown in Nigeria that can stand in its place.

These include tiger nut flour and coconut flour.

Tiger nut flour is made from tiger nut, though it is not a nut as the name implies but a small root vegetable that grows.

“It is naturally gluten-free and offers those allergic to nuts a good option for adding protein to their diet.

It can also lower blood glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity. It is grain free flour, high in fibre, iron, potassium, protein, magnesium, zinc and vitamins E and C.

It is a very healthy swallow option and is making its way to store shelves all over the country, which is a welcome addition.

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