Did you hear this? Oatmeal is now your enemy

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    July 1, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 7.49.53 PMDoctors, are you frustrated by failed attempts to convince your heart patients to follow your sound advice on lifestyle improvements? Are you exhausted from trying to figure out why they won’t stop eating junk and start eating heart-healthy foods just like you are recommending?

Stand back, please. I think I have finally figured out WHY YOUR PATIENTS WON’T LISTEN!

It’s because no sooner do doctors start advising that something is good for heart patients, that it seems other doctors start advising that not only is it NOT good for us, but it might even be downright dangerous! And vice versa.

Eggs are bad for us. No wait, eggs are okay after all.

Fat is bad for us. No, wait…

Oatmeal is a healthy breakfast food. No, wait…

You read that right, my heart sisters. Oatmeal! Oatmeal is now apparently off the ‘nice’ list, according to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of many best-selling diet books, and somebody who calls himself a functional medicine specialist at the Functional Medicine Clinic at Cleveland Clinic (where you can order his $300 10-Day Detox Combo supplement pack from the Dr. Hyman Store). Hyman has now decreed that the humble bowl of hot oatmeal, long beloved by Grandmas and expert dietitians alike, is no longer a good breakfast food choice.

He seems to base this warning on a small 1999 obesity study(1) that he called “amazing”, a study undertaken with 12 boys (did I mention that this study was small?) Twelve boys is hardly a study, by the way. At my house, it is a birthday party.

I first learned of this study in an online oatmeal warning on Twitter based on Hyman’s latest best-selling diet book, that essentially warned:  “Oatmeal is not health food. Oatmeal spikes your sugar and makes you hungrier.”

So I asked Dr. Glen Pyle, University of Guelph Professor of Molecular Cardiology, about this theory. He told me about a number of scientific studies that had found just the opposite of what Dr. Hyman’s anti-oatmeal warnings claim:  specifically, that oatmeal can actually decrease glucose spikes. For example, he cited one 2015 paper published in the food science journal Nutrients (Hou et al) that reviewed nine separate studies, each suggesting that “oatmeal reduced post-meal glucose and insulin responses compared to other control meals.”

I am not a research scientist (but I did spend 20 years of my life living with one – does that count at all?) 

I am however a heart patient who has fretted about how I can personally make better decisions about choosing better food – and eating far less sugar – while at the same time not turning into a preachy food nag nobody wants to sit beside.

It’s all about small steps. As the late tennis legend Arthur Ashe once advised:

“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

Using a methodology that researchers would call n=1 (studying just one person – me!), I concluded that my own bowl of steel cut oatmeal with milk, fruit and assorted nuts and seeds easily keeps me going until 1 p.m. with nary a hunger pang, no matter how busy I am that morning.

But could I be unwittingly spiking my blood sugar, as Dr. Hyman insists? And what does that mean anyway?

Where I live (in British Columbia, Canada), my go-to resource for nutrition or food science questions is our 811 Dial-A-Dietitian information phone line (it’s a free public service, along with 24/7 Dial-A-Nurse).

Thank you Canada, commie pinko land of socialized medicine!

The registered dietitian on the phone explained to me that glycemic index (GI) is a value out of 100 that scientists assign to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. The higher the GI numbers, the more they can impact those blood sugar “spikes”.

My steel-cut oatmeal has a GI of 42. Compared to many other breakfast options, that’s pretty good (e.g. watermelon =79; a slice of white bread =75; Special K cereal =84).  But as those living with Type 1 diabetes already know, other factors like stress, illness, exercise, excitement – even weather! – can also have an effect on blood sugar levels, so focusing only on GI numbers and sugar spikes may not be entirely useful.

And as the dietitian reassured me, my steel-cut oats are a complex carbohydrate high in B-Vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, selenium, iron, calcium and protein, while low in salt, sugar, and fat. As if that’s not already great enough, oats also contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, which helps to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol), and makes us feel fuller, not hungrier when we finish eating them.

When I say “oatmeal”, by the way, I don’t mean those little packages of instant oatmeal, which are a highly processed food-like material that can contain up to four teaspoons of sugar in a single serving package. I look at instant oatmeal as the gateway to real oats down the road (much like Baby Duck was my sicky-sweet wine of choice back in art college until I graduated to dry reds). 

I also view my bowl of oatmeal as a base (in the same way you might look at rice as the base for a chicken stir-fry). Once the oatmeal is in the bowl, it’s a blank canvas, awaiting a colourful load of fruit (e.g. mine always includes a chopped-up apple and berries), almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and any other heart-healthy addition I can find in my kitchen.

When I asked Dr. Yoni Freedhof (founder of Ottawa’s non-surgical Bariatric Medical Institute, a teacher of medicine at the University of Ottawa, and a blogger on his highly recommended Weighty Matters site) what he thought about this oatmeal warning, here’s what he tweeted back to me:

(To read more about quackademic medicine, and Hyman’s definition of functional medicine as “a hidden movement sweeping across the globe!” – which, honestly, must be a pretty slow sweep if it’s hidden – plus his argument with basic germ theory, read this).

Here’s the thing: oatmeal for breakfast is not necessarily what I want to eat.

It’s what I have decided to eat, upon thoughtful reflection, because it’s healthier for me than what I really want to eat for breakfast, which includes things like fluffy cinnamon peach pancakes piled with whipped cream and lots of pure Canadian maple syrup – maybe with a side of nice crispy bacon. Now, THAT is the breakfast I dream about. . . 

Oatmeal may not be healthier for me compared to a (*gag*) kale smoothie, but it’s a significant improvement compared to what I really wish I could eat every morning.

Keep in mind, my heart sisters, that I grew up in a big Ukrainian family in which my entire childhood was fueled by our traditional dietary trinity based on butter, bacon and, of course, sour cream (finished off with a gooey homemade butter tart or two).

We considered dill pickles to be a vegetable dish in our family.

Later, as a grown-up newlywed, my idea of breakfast was picking up a sweet coffee and a Tim Hortons maple dip on my way to work. Paradoxically, as a Mum of two children several years later, I fed my kids super-healthy homemade everything since the day they first started eating solid foods, thanks to my well-loved and dog-eared copy of La Leche League’s classic Whole Foods for the Whole Family. But I lived with a double standard for myself whenever left to my own culinary devices (or when out with my girlfriends celebrating anything!)

INTERESTING BUT SLIGHTLY IRRELEVANT FUN FACT: My own grandmother in Manitoba (ditto on the Ukrainian diet preferences, of course) lived well into her 90s, having outlived three husbands. Almost until the very end, she did her own gardening, home baking and canning as if she were still on that prairie farm taking care of her family of 12 children! And I’d bet my next squirt of nitro spray that not for one single moment of her entire life did that woman worry about whether or not she should eat fewer carbs. . .

Meanwhile, thanks to learning more about the joys of the delicious Mediterranean diet since my heart attack, I have been making small but important changes to the way I shop and cook, little by little. Yes, even vegetables! A significant improvement!

But now this doc is telling all of us that oatmeal is no longer good for us?!

Here’s my own takeaway message for now: the way to convince people to adopt heart-healthy options is NOT to issue sweeping anti-oatmeal blanket warnings based on a 12-boy study.

And we’re talking about oatmeal here. Not Pop Tarts. . .


Well, actually this is my dear Seattle friend Tony’s recipe, passed on to me. Steel-cut oatmeal and oat groats (the least processed kind of oats) generally take a lot longer to cook than highly processed instant oatmeal (just add boiling water) – but Tony’s recipe speeds things up by starting the night before at bedtime: for each serving, boil one cup of water with 1/3 cup of steel-cut oats. As soon as the water comes to a rolling boil, take the pot off the stove, put the pot lid on, and go to bed. Thank you, Tony! 

The next morning, perfectly cooked oatmeal is ready to reheat and top with berries, almonds, any other heart-healthy stuff you can find. It is easy, colourful and absolutely yummy.

And as my grandmother would say: “This will stick to your ribs!”

(1) David S. Ludwig et al, “High Glycemic Index Foods, Overeating, and Obesity”.


SHAMELESS PLUG FROM CAROLYN:   I wrote more about how and why heart patients tend to respond to behaviour change motivators (or not!) in Chapter 7 of my book, “A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017). You can ask for it at your local bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from my publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press (use their code HTWN to save 20% off the list price).

Q:  Do you still consider oatmeal to be part of a healthy breakfast?

See also:

Dear Cleveland Clinic: It’s food, not poison, for crying out loud!

Heart-smart food rules: your dietary dos and don’ts

Food trends: why we eat the way we do

When “nudging” doesn’t work to change patient behaviour

Why don’t we listen to doctors’ heart-healthy advice?

Do you fear change? Then don’t have a heart attack

De-junk your kitchen to start heart-smart eating

Why you’ll listen to me, but not your doctor


88 thoughts on “Did you hear this? Oatmeal is now your enemy

  1. These days, there certainly seems to be a no for every yes, when it comes down to what we should or should not eat. Many of these dietary ideas have spawned more than a few cottage industries, as it relates to the Paleo Diet, The Ketogenic Diet, The Daylight Diet, The Atkins diet, etc.

    Depending on who is trying to sell you an idea or a product, along with the toxic dogma, steel cut oats comes out either like the devil or the savior and it can’t be both. Common sense must prevail. I doubt the oats are evil and it is one of the better grains. I would drop the milk. That is not good for anyone. There are many other alternatives for that.

    As for the advice from the dietician, I would not recommend that either. Most of their training is geared towards the institutional needs of hospitals, coopted by the food processing manufacturers. They are not qualified and some of the most misshapen and obese practitioners have been RD’s. Go to a serious CCN for that advice and do your own homework.

    As for Dr. Hyman, he charges $1600 for a consult and he has vacillated numerous times on the advice that he gives. Initially he stated that coconut oil was bad because the MCT level was only 14%. Wrong and he had to back track his statements. He is over exposed and an operator but I don’t know what the quackademics remark refers to. Functional medicine is really the proper way to practice. Most other healing systems are by design, functional. Allopathic medicine is not. Only 20%-25% of what people need is fulfilled by traditional practitioners. That includes all the things that they are excellent at and are trained for. Trauma, emergency medicine, burns, gun shot wounds, surgery when necessary, transplantations and some acute care problems. That leaves everything else on the table, that most people seeking help need but are unable to provide.

    As a result, out of sheer arrogance and lack of knowledge, they either dismiss or ignore these issues. The problem is that many MD’s shift over to functional medicine without the proper training. That requires a good deal of study in other treatment modalities and most do not have the time to take away from their practice.

    If a doctor treats someone who has GERD with ginger, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and digestive enzymes, Dr. Freedhoff would be calling them a quack. A better approach would be to use the glycemic load, to measure steel cut oats metabolic impact. It is low.


  2. I eat my whole rolled oats cooked in boiling water for maybe 5 or 10 minutes with several cloves of fresh garlic, and maybe some chopped ginger or a few raisins and/or hemp hearts or flax seeds. No sweetener other than a few raisins or a couple of chopped dried apricot halves. I dress it with a little butter, no milk. Plenty of variety. Works for me, and now I find anything sweeter than a few raisins is way too sweet. Basically butter and garlic. Without the milk I fart way less.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whoah! Rosalind, I now have to go have a wee lie-down just imagining my morning oatmeal with several cloves of fresh garlic added! That changes it to a savoury dish (like serving rice with dinner, maybe?) I love garlic and I *love* butter… so you may be onto something… 🙂


  3. NOTE FROM CAROLYN: This comment has been deleted because it was attempting to sell you a miracle herbal cure (not only for heart disease, but also for “HIV, HERPES, CANCER, LUPUS, ASTHMA, HEPATITES” (sic) “and many more.” For more information on how to get your own marketing comments deleted, please read my site’s disclaimer page


  4. I love oats in any form, have a serious addiction to Cheerios, so this article really caught my eye! I thought of several things as I read it.

    First, as I understand it, unless things have changed recently, doctors generally don’t study nutrition in med school (maybe one required course?), so they actually aren’t well-qualified to advise patients much in this area. I would trust a registered dietitian who has studied the subject more in depth over a doctor’s advice, unless I knew that doctor had read up on the subject on his own.

    Second, I was really sad to see that Dr. Hyman and his questionable practices (LOVE the term “quackademic!”) are associated with the Cleveland Clinic, which is very highly thought of in our upstate NY medical community and my cardiac support group. They are reputed to be the leading cardiac care center in the US. A friend of mine recently had a heart valve replacement done there using an angioplasty procedure because she has a condition where she can’t have regular anesthesia for open-heart surgery. She felt the care she received was excellent.

    Third, I thought I’d share a few alternative ways to prepare oats that my family likes. We use quick oats mostly. I used to make muesli (not so much now with type 2) — my favorite combination was to place a very small serving of oats in a custard cup and add dried fruit (I like dates and raisins), unsweetened coconut, sunflower seeds, and top with honey and milk. (Yes, carb and sugar overdose, you can see why I never eat it anymore. But I miss it.)

    Another way we love oats is baked oatmeal. You can Google for recipes online. Basically you bake oats, a little brown sugar, eggs and raisins into a crumbly cake. Cut a piece, put it into a bowl, top with milk and microwave for a minute to warm it up. The texture is very different from gooey cooked oatmeal, so if texture is an issue this would be a great way to get your oats in.

    Or try stirring oats into a container of fruit yogurt, add a little milk to make it moister.

    Or my latest way to make oatmeal — put half a cup of quick oats into a bowl and pour milk on to just barely cover, then microwave for 1 minute. It heats the mixture but doesn’t really cook it so it’s not gooey at all. Sweeten to taste with whatever you like to use. I never cook oatmeal on the stove anymore since I discovered I could do this!

    I also use oats in my meatloaf recipe instead of bread crumbs. Which brings me to my last point, about blood sugar — in cardiac rehab when I kept having low sugars I was advised that you should always eat carbs along with some protein and fat because the combination will keep the blood sugar levels stable instead of spiking and falling quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your oatmeal tips, Meghan. Like you, I never cook oatmeal on the stove anymore (and my ‘night before’ method means that the next morning, it’s ready to go just as if I’d been standing at the stove and stirring!) Several people have told me that using oat groats (the least processed of all the types of oatmeal you can buy) addresses that ‘gooey’ feature of hot oatmeal that some people don’t like. See the comment below from Kris, who toasts her oatmeal in the oven first. It makes sense that the more processed (e.g. quick oats), the gooier.

      And you’re right about how much nutrition training is provided in med school. In one study, only 28 of the 105 U.S. med schools studied met even the minimum 25 required hours over four years set by the National Academy of Sciences.

      Compare that feeble result with the rigorous training of a dietititian: four years of university training in food science, one year of practicum/internship, and then passing a comprehensive examination that qualifies one to become a registered dietitian (RD). A “nutritionist” by comparison is you or me or anybody working in a health food store who feels like calling themselves a “nutritionist”. Important for consumers to know the difference.

      Which person would you depend on for nutritional advice? Personally, I would no more ask a physician for such advice than I would ask them for parenting advice…


  5. Easiest to make a larger batch of steel cut or whole groats at once. I toast mine in the dry pan before adding water. Leave the cooked oats in a glass container in the fridge. Scoop out a serving in the AM and dress it as you wish. Microwave and eat. You’ll stick to the program more easily if the AM routine is easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kris! Thanks for this bulk prep idea! Why do you like to toast the oats first? Does it alter the taste? I’m thinking it might affect the texture…. I will try this. You’re so right about the importance of an easy A.M. routine – it’s why I even set out the bowls/spoons/seeds/chopped nuts/etc the night before, too… Then when I walk into the kitchen first thing in the morning, no thinking required…


      1. Toasting does add a toasty nutty oat flavor and it lessens the pasty “slimy” texture some people object to. It can still be creamy if enough water is used. I like mine firm so I use 2 parts water to 1 part oats. Cover tightly and simmer on lowest heat for 30 minutes or so, turn off and let sit covered to finish. I use whole groats cooked like this as a rice or barley substitute side dish. I sometimes make an oat “milk” too. 1 cup rolled oats soaked in 5-6 cups water, then blended smooth. Some people strain it. I don’t. Another way of getting soluble fiber when it’s too hot to eat cooked oatmeal.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I placed your oatmeal post in front of my husband as he ate his usual daily bowl of oatmeal on steroids (combined with oat bran, ground flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, fresh fruit, cinnamon, and yogurt). He said of you, “She has a great sense of humor!” Agreed.

    Several years ago, when my high school sweetheart husband’s cholesterol soared to 279, his doctor brought up the idea of medications. I suggested we give dietary changes a try first. I searched on science-based websites like Mayo Clinic for advice. They mentioned soluble fiber as an ally in the quest to lower one’s cholesterol. And guess what they identified as an excellent source of soluble fiber? Oatmeal and oat bran!

    My husband’s cholesterol dropped from 279 to 196 in three months after oat-ifying his life (and making other heart-healthy lifestyle changes). Of course, this is just a “study of one,” and not a study of twelve boys. Insert eye-roll here.

    I plan to keep on eating oatmeal in my preferred form: my very own homemade granola, spiked with a bit of maple syrup (preferably Canadian), cinnamon, oat bran, ground flaxseed, pumpkin seeds (I am allergic to tree nuts so pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds have to suffice). I toss in a wee bit of dark chocolate chunks, plenty of blueberries or other fruit, and voila. I am convinced that this soluble fiber bonanza has helped lowered my cholesterol (down from total of 213 to 155, LDL dropping from 126 to 88).

    No one is going to make a million bucks from oatmeal capsules. No one is going to place it in solution and run it through our veins via IVs. Big Pharma and MD hucksters probably see no big payola from granola.

    But we who find oats an ally, not an enemy, won’t let “boy band” studies deter us from our heart-healthy breakfast of champions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for weighing in here, Marie, and thanks to your very smart husband, too! Your oatmeal “recipe” (adding dark chocolate chunks!!?!!!) really is “oatmeal on steroids” (except, the good kind!)

      Fibre is an important dietary ingredient for many areas of the body but especially for colon health (helps to regulate bowels and prevent hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, even colon cancer) plus it can lower LDL cholesterol and blood glucose levels, and makes us feel less hungry. And according to Mayo Clinic (one of my favourite credible med sites), studies have also found that high-fibre foods like our breakfast oatmeal may have other heart health benefits such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.

      I too believe it’s the breakfast of champions! (sorry, Wheaties…)


  7. Hey Carolyn,
    I enjoy steel cut oats, too (tho I’m not gonna lie — you had me at “butter tarts”!). I throw ’em in a Mason jar and soak ’em overnight either in water with a smidge of apple cider vinegar, or in whey from my homemade yogurt.

    Why, you ask? Acetic and lactic acids are good for reducing mycotoxins (yuckies produced by Aspergillus, a fungus) on grains. The ole US of A allows higher levels of them in food for human and animal consumption than do our Canadian and European neighbors. (Thank you — not! — FDA 😡). They’re also easier (for me) to digest post-soak. (After rinsing, I then cook them normally.)

    I usually eat them with walnuts, yogurt, and a sweetener of some kind. They’re very filling and I love the taste and texture. I digest them (and most carbs) better if I consume them the same week I’m lifting weights. (Not to get too off on a tangent, but I’ve brought my cholesterol and blood glucose levels down since I’ve re-started my strength training — and digest carbs a lot better, too.)

    As for Hyman and his oatmeal pronouncements based on a small study of 12 little boys — we (that is, “consumers” and/or “patients” have to educate ourselves so that we quickly understand what’s behind assertions like this.

    Sadly (and I say this as a former journalist) health reporters too frequently trumpet these kinds of studies without doing basic research — such as looking at actual study design, population and results.

    Keep kicking butt, my dear.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Angela. I think strength training is under-appreciated for many reasons. And I don’t just mean the stereotypical body building weight-lifting training – even in my late mother’s seniors’ home they incorporated light weights into every fitness circle. I agree with you about health reporters, sadly (it’s why I love and recommend the non-profit site Health News Review to check out the validity of health news headlines!)

      Trouble is, Hyman doesn’t even have to pretend to be a journalist – he already has his own broad platform to say whatever he feels like saying, to quote whatever weak study he feels like quoting – at Cleveland Clinic, on social media, and on TV with Dr. Oz – and zillions of people continue to buy his diet books…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Carolyn,
        Thanks for the info on Health News Review — that site’s news to me, and I’m glad to know it exists.

        And I agree with you on Hyman (though I wasn’t thinking of him re my journalism comments, just the many reporters who don’t take the time to look behind a press release) — and those like him. We all need to be vigilant — and self-education with credible sources is an excellent way to get there.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Absolutely! In the world of shrinking budgets in journalism, even prominent (i.e. you’d think they’d be credible) news sources are too often simply lifting press releases word-for-word sent out from researchers or their institutions. Academic communications offices seem to be the most embarrassing purveyors of such “news”, according to Health News Review investigators… Speaking of which, very sad news: apparently they are due to close down due to funding cuts later this year after 12 wonderful years, which is a tragic turn of events for those of us who count on them to tell the difference between hype and fact. I’m really hoping that some smart benefactor will step in to save the day…

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Hyman, I fear, has his “team” (find it hard to fathom that he would be doing his own blog) searching high and low for new material and ways to promote him. I’ve seen his PBS documentary and it’s reasonable and informative. Unfortunately, there’s not much more information out there on nutrition than what we already know at present so the media docs have to keep coming up with things to get our attention (much like people in elected office . . . who shall remain nameless).

    It’s disheartening (literally and figuratively)

    I think the key ultimately may prove to be moderation in all things . . . even including exercise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for weighing in here, Judy-Judith. I suspect you are correct – all the good basic nutrition advice has already been handed out, hence the explosion every year of “revolutionary” diet books, each pushing an exciting and more extreme new fad diet idea, or as Dr. Oz likes to say, a “fat-busting” miracle!

      I know this because I started my first diet at age 13 (when I was, by the way, a tall skinny bone rack convinced that my emerging hips were hideous!) You name it, I’ve bought the book: high-protein, juice fast, Weight Watchers, Zone, South Beach, etc. etc. And if I weren’t so utterly convinced by now that diets do not work, my ‘old self’ would have certainly been persuaded to buy Hyland’s “10 Day Detox”, or “The UltraSimple SlimDown” or his other “amazing” diet books.

      Or, I could just set fire to my money…

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Hah! Wonderful piece of writing and common sense, Carolyn. I’m just off to have my own oatmeal breakfast, with linseed and chia seeds and Canadian maple syrup. Looking forward to the baad sugar spike that somehow keeps me going steadily until 1pm also.
    Best wishes,
    Steve August.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Steve – so nice to hear from you again! I’m glad you mentioned chia seeds – tiny little powerhouses to sprinkle on your oatmeal (4grams of protein, 11g of fibre in just 2 tbsp!)

      And I’m also glad you have access to our fine Canadian maple syrup down there in New Zealand…


  10. Hi Carolyn,
    I find it odd that people are so quick to follow someone without checking their background.

    Dr. Mark Hyman’s education:
    B.A. Asian Studies (history) 1978-82
    M. D. Medicine 1983-87
    Family Practice Residency 1988-90

    I have seen nothing in his background that qualifies him to do anything of a dietary nature. Nor does he qualify as a cardiologist, nor a dietary cardiac specialist. And when it comes to studies I found out that some researchers have used as little as ten people and it is allowed.

    It is the main reason I check the background of the person that comes up with these kinds of things and I have something against someone who is all over the board with education and with the things they’re doing, especially when they aren’t even in the same field of study. He appears as someone who is chasing the money and will say what he needs to get the greatest return.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of my pet peeves, Robin: citing poor-quality studies to try to pump up weak or non-existent theories. Some studies quoted don’t even involve people: citing animal studies is also a common and arguably irresponsible practice to support a weak point, given that 89% of all animal studies are never published at all.

      It’s such a smart idea to check the backgrounds of those who make claims that sound too good to be true, like Hyman’s claims that he can “reverse heart disease”. Hyman is a former GP who has hit upon a very successful commercial formula: once you write one best-selling diet book, you become more famous as a diet “expert” who can then keep writing book after profitable book, until you get invited to be an adviser and guest co-host with Dr. Oz (another embarrassing “quackademic” who tosses around the “miracle” word far more than any credible physician ever should).


      1. Carolyn, I’ve been eating oatmeal all my life and I still fix it the old fashion way my mom and grandma did. I like the small oats cooked soft. I add butter, sugar, cinnamon and carnation evaporated canned milk at room temperature. It’s smooth and creamy so that even a baby can eat it. It keeps me warm and full for most of the day with plenty of energy and every now and them I’ll add raisins for the iron. That instant stuff doesn’t taste good. I have some steel cut oats but I have to get used to the feel of it in my mouth.

        I will always check out anyone who says they can reverse heart disease and even worse, say they can cure it. For me facing it head on and doing all that I can to learn just what my form of heart damage and disease I am dealing with has kept me strong. I have taught my medical doctors never to use the terms normal or new normal when talking to me. It was a good win and they treat me with a great degree of respect.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. There’s definitely a different ‘mouth-feel’ when eating steel cut or oat groats. It’s like the difference when first getting used to eating brown rice vs white – definitely a new texture! By comparison, I grew up in a family that served Minute Rice (remember that? Do they still sell it?)

          Docs who claim they can reverse or cure heart disease do sell more books than those who tell the truth…


  11. YMMV, for sure. I added steel-cut oats (no sugar) with a spoonful of peanut butter to my diet on a regular basis, and it’s seen me through losing more than 120 pounds, getting off my diabetes and hypertension meds so that now I’m totally med-free, and fueling training for my first triathlon.

    At my last annual checkup, my blood sugar was actually a little low. I think we all just need to find what works for us, but anyone who claims to have a one-size-fits-all solution isn’t acting responsibly. That said, I’m glad I can get Dr. Hyman’s books for free from my local library so I can at least check out what he has to say and do my own fact-checking.

    Cheers for this heads-up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Julie – First, I had to go look up YMMV (your mileage may vary?!) so thanks for that lesson! Second, congrats to you on your significant weight loss, meds deprescribing and impressive athletic accomplishments! Wow!

      And third, I agree 100% that there’s no such thing, no matter what all the best-selling diet books tell us, as “a one-size-fits-all solution”. Thanks for sharing your perspective.


  12. As someone with Type 1 diabetes, oatmeal -even steel cut oats- can be evil and hard to dose insulin for. I have managed to figure out a way to continue to eat oatmeal by substituting chia seeds for part of the oatmeal and using a low carb milk (Fairlife) plus water for the liquid.

    Mark Hyman is an extreme voice but his arguments are needed in the diabetes world where people who cannot metabolize carbs well are prescribed high carb, low fat diets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good example of adapting almost any food to arrive at a balance of nutrients that work for you, Laddie. I know you have written on your blog about things like your “unexpected and unjustified spikes” that have then required some noodling around – sorry for the carb reference! 😉 – before hitting upon what seems to be a change that works for you, at least temporarily (like your example of adding chia seeds). I’m thinking that the best way to eat is likely a flexible diet that can be integrated into real life, with adaptations as needed if you live with diabetes or allergies or food sensitivities – as you have experienced in your own life.

      Not only is Hyman’s advice “extreme”, but in my opinion both misleading and confusing. For example, he often simultaneously vilifies and sells the same ingredient. He publicly condemns “all sugars, including organic cane sugar” – but that turns out to be among the top three ingredients listed on his $50 Pure Lean Powder label.

      No thanks…


  13. Here is what my dog taught me about oatmeal. I think you will find it interesting.  
    Ace was a German Shorthaired Pointer, bred near Bend (Lehmschlog) and his first owner was known as being one of the best gun dog trainers in Oregon.  The owner died in a car accident in 2006, and Ace was left in his kennel by the man’s widow.  Their neighbors called the man’s hunting partner to rescue Ace.  He lived with two GSP’s in a 5th wheel on a 2000-acre wheat ranch.  The two GSPs were like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer – they had free range but always came home for dinner.  Ace’s hunting partner, Ollie, died when he fell out of the back of the truck and Ace became a wanderer.  Too many trips to the shelter was too much for the family. 
    I could not figure out why a fully trained gun dog was sitting in a shelter for months (apparently, people really like puppies), so we brought him home.  It was love at first sight.  
    Ace and I would go “hunting” each morning at dawn – rabbits, squirrels and mountain beaver.  He liked the hunt and chase, but I never saw him bring down an animal.  Of course, on the first walk…he pulled me out of my flip flops and dragged me across the thistles as he went after his first squirrel.  That was the last day that I carried a mug of coffee with me on our walks, for I needed to be on point as much as he did.
    Ace went everywhere with me – restaurants in Whistler, hiking in the mountains, to the post office, library, grocery store.  We live in a forest above the beach so there is a lot of hunting in the ravines (small critters, deer, and bear although I haven’t seen or smelled one). Everyone LOVED Ace because he was so well mannered.  I only hope his original trainer could see what a good job he had done with Ace.  He should be proud.
    Ace developed an insulinoma and heart block when he was 9 years old.  Washington State University (vet school) gave Ace a couple of weeks to live in Aug 2010, and he made it until April. Love, diet and exercise. 

    Quite by accident, I gave him my bowl of oatmeal the morning after our return from the WSU visit and it was enough to stabilize his blood sugar for the day, with a light meal at lunch and light meal at dinner.  Without the oatmeal, his glucose would crash and that triggered seizures and cardiac arrest. 

    I got very good at canine CPR.  With the glucose under control, it was important to walk him 4-5 times/day…shorter walks but ones that included a couple chases.  Not a problem with the rabbits.  The dentist’s wife across the road feeds organic carrots to the wild rabbits and it’s like living in Jurassic Park.  Ace had a Holter monitor and it registered pulse 40 except for when he saw a cat, then it went to 70. 

    His heart finally gave out in April and its left a large hole in ours.  Ace had a good life and was loved by many.

    Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal if it makes your glucose and food urges stabilize and use fruit because processed sugar isn’t good for your health. Listen carefully to your body. Exercise hard and sleep frequently. Live in a loving environment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A sweet story, Anne. It’s so sad to lose a beloved pet, but he sure had a good life with you!

      “Love, diet and exercise” (and maybe some canine CPR when needed) – it all works… Thanks so much for sharing those memories of Ace.


  14. To each their own. For me, oatmeal does spike my blood sugar and I am shaking and hungry in two hours, but a hard boiled egg and coffee and I am good to go well past lunch. I don’t care for pancakes or waffles either. My husband however can eat those carbs and last all day ( and not even gain weight). I love oatmeal but I don’t like how I feel later.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think Mark Hyman is a victim of the “keto craze”. Most of the functional doctors are not doctors at all. However, some of them I respect…such as Ben Lynch. However, you have to be careful as you say. Some of them are getting really aggressive in their push to sell those bottles. I have become a victim a few times! By the way, I love and enjoy my oatmeal a few times a week. I love the oat groats cooked in the slow cooker. Is it more processed than the steel cut oats? Thank you for your post. It is very reassuring!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jacqueline – I think it’s essentially unethical for ANY physician to sell his/her own retail products.

      I like your slow-cooker idea for oat groats (which normally would take about an hour to cook on the stove – and generally speaking, the quicker something cooks, the farther away it is from its natural unprocessed state and vice versa). Groats are the hulled whole grain kernels of oat, wheat, rye, or barley that include the cereal germ and fibre-rich bran portion of the grain, very high in potassium, with a whopping 6g of fibre in a 1-cup serving.


    1. Hello Sharon – I really like the Urban Dictionary definition of the word: “Maven comes to us from the Hebrew, by way of Yiddish. In Hebrew, ‘mavin’ means ‘he knows’. So a ‘maven’ is someone in the know, a real expert, or maybe sometimes just a self-styled expert.”

      Liked by 1 person

  16. If I eat even a very small serving of oatmeal – say 1/4 cup after cooking – with nothing added except zero-carb sweetening and some plain cinnamon, it will spike my glucose to over 200 (US) / 11.1 (rest of the world). When I was diagnosed with T2 diabetes nearly 10 years ago, I also had very low HDL and very high trigs. By moving to a high-fat, moderate-protein, very-low-carb diet with no cholesterol medications, my HDL skyrocketed and my trigs plumeted. And I didn’t get as hungry between meals.

    Please don’t laugh at what works for those of us who make the sacrifices needed to keep our glucose in the non-diabetic range. And, in fact, for those with insulin resistance, oatmeal *will* make us hungry a couple hours later. There’s not much protein or fiber in oatmeal of any type, and the huge number of carbs will spike insulin production, which then causes glucose levels to plummet, causing hunger. Be glad you don’t have insulin resistance and let the rest of us eat what we need to in order to be healthier.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Holly – you’re right of course, some people living with Type 2 diabetes can eat oatmeal, and some, like you, cannot tolerate it. Steel cut oats have about 27g of carbs, so it sounds like for you that is too high. Oatmeal (especially unprocessed groats or steel-cut oatmeal) is in fact a good source of dietary fibre (5-6g per serving – an ‘excellent source’ of fibre is considered to contain five grams or more per serving) and also protein (7g) – even more when I add milk and nuts.

      Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not laughing at what people living with T2D choose to eat, any more than I would respond that way to those with food allergies, as some of my own family members have, but those are not the people I’m addressing here. My concern is about people with the letters M.D. after their names citing 20-year old, poor-quality research to ‘prove’ that oatmeal (or any other specific food group) is bad for everybody.


      1. Can’t do anything about the “MD”, but we can treat its effects with sarcasm and wisecracks. (Humor is the best medicine 😉) Anyway, why do red-blooded Heart Sisters consider a study done on 12 BOYS to be relevant?

        Liked by 1 person

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