The Worst Ingredients No One Should Be Putting In Their Oatmeal Anymore, According To Health Experts

woman eating bowl of oatmeal with various toppings

woman eating bowl of oatmeal with various toppings

When you add the right ingredients to the mix, oatmeal makes an equally delicious and healthy breakfast. One of the best things about a bowl of oats is that it acts as a blank canvas—it’s probably one of the most versatile dishes because you can add just about anything your heart desires. That said, while that leaves plenty of room for healthy toppings that can help you on your weight loss journey, it also leaves room for tons of unhealthy ones that may delight your taste buds but can do serious harm to your body. It is therefore important to be aware of the risks at hand when it comes to certain ingredients. In fact, health experts agree that if you care about your health, there are a few things you should totally get out of the bowl.

To learn more, we spoke with Rachel MacPherson, certified personal trainer and certified nutrition coach experts at Garage Gym Reviews and dietitian Trista Best of Balance One Supplements. They said refined sugar and other sugary ingredients like chocolate and dried fruit were among the worst choices.

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1. Refined sugar

It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the worst thing you can add to your oatmeal or overnight oats is plain white sugar. While this ingredient can undeniably make your breakfast taste a little better, the health risks on hand aren’t worth it, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. “If your goal is to lose weight, the worst ingredient you can add to oatmeal is sugar,” Macpherson explains, explaining that this sweet ingredient “does not contribute any nutrients.” And if you’re trying to lose weight or simply maintain a healthy diet, providing your body with plenty of nutrients is essential. As she says, “nutrient density is vital to sustainable weight loss and healthy weight balance.”

But it’s not just a lack of nutrients that makes sugar a terrible ingredient; Overeating can also lead to problems such as inflammation, poor gut health, weight gain and, over time, illness. Additionally, in the short term, eating sugar (not surprisingly) raises your blood sugar levels, causing you to crave more sweets later in the day. This means that starting the morning with a sugary breakfast will likely lead to overeating. For all these reasons and more, it’s best to skip the sugar in your oatmeal.

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2. High-sugar ingredients like chocolate, syrup, and dried fruit

While it may seem obvious that you should avoid adding a spoonful of sugar to your oat bowl, there are many sneaky high-sugar add-ons that you might not think twice about. As Best notes, “some of the worst ingredients accidentally added to overnight healthy oats recipes are chocolate sauce, sugar, syrup, and dried fruit.”

Wait, dried fruit is bad? Unfortunately yes. While it’s certainly not the worst thing you can add to the mix, it’s important to be aware that this ingredient contains a lot more sugar than you might think. “It’s one of those foods that is in the middle of being healthy and unhealthy, depending on the amount consumed,” says Best. Compared to their fresh counterparts, “this type of fruit is highly calorie and sugar-dense and easy to eat in much more than a serving size.” As a result, it’s probably best to completely exclude dried fruit from oats and opt for fresh fruit instead, such as high-fiber fruits.

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Other healthy, satisfying, low-sugar options you can add to your breakfast without risking your health include seeds, nuts, and nut butters. All of these options will provide a good amount of nutrients and keep you full longer without packing on the sugar. As a result, when it comes to oatmeal, the possibilities for healthy ingredients are almost endless – just remember to be mindful of how much sugar you add.

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