Are Quaker Quick Oats safe to eat raw?

Quick Answer

Quaker Quick Oats are generally considered safe to eat raw in small amounts, but it is not recommended. Raw oats contain higher amounts of phytic acid, which can interfere with mineral absorption, and they are harder for some people to digest. Cooking oats makes them easier to digest and lowers the phytic acid content. Eating moderate portions of raw oats should not pose any major health risks for most people. Those with digestive issues or concerns about nutrient absorption may want to avoid eating raw oats.

Phytic Acid in Raw Oats

One potential downside of eating raw oats is their phytic acid content. Phytic acid is a natural compound found in plant foods like oats, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. It can bind to minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium in the digestive tract and prevent optimal absorption of these nutrients into the body. Cooking breaks down phytic acid, lowering its levels. Raw oats contain higher amounts of phytic acid compared to cooked oats.

However, the phytic acid in oats should not be a major concern for most healthy individuals eating moderate amounts of raw oats. Research shows oats have lower phytic acid levels compared to other unprocessed grains and legumes. Soaking, sprouting, or fermenting oats can also help reduce phytic acid levels in raw oats. As long as raw oats are consumed in reasonable portions as part of a balanced diet, phytic acid should not significantly impact mineral status for most people. Those at risk for mineral deficiencies may want to minimize raw oat consumption and rely on cooked oats instead.

Phytic Acid Levels in Raw vs Cooked Oats

– Raw oats have about 1,160-1,480 mg of phytic acid per 100 grams.

– Cooked oats have about 140-750 mg of phytic acid per 100 grams.

– Phytic acid levels are reduced by around 50-80% from cooking.

Ways to Reduce Phytic Acid in Raw Oats

– Soak oats in warm water overnight before eating raw.

– Sprout raw oats to start germination.

– Ferment oats to break down phytic acid.

– Eat raw oats in moderation as part of varied diet.

Digestibility of Raw Oats

Another downside of raw oats is that they may be harder for some people to digest compared to cooked oats. Raw oats contain compounds like fiber, protein, starch, and phytate that make them more difficult to break down in the digestive tract. This is why some people experience more gas, bloating, and stomach discomfort from eating raw oats vs cooked oats.

Cooking oats breaks down their cellular structure, makingnutrients like starch and protein more accessible for digestion and absorption. The starch in raw oats is also ungelatinized, meaning it has not been exposed to moisture and heat to allow it to swell and become more digestible.

For most healthy people, raw oats can be tolerated well when eaten in moderation. But some individuals with digestive conditions like IBS may be sensitive to the higher fiber content and find raw oats irritating for their systems. For better digestibility, it is recommended to soak, sprout, or ferment raw oats before eating them. Cooked oats are always the easiest to digest.

Tips to Improve Digestibility of Raw Oats

– Soak oats overnight to soften texture.

– Blend or grind raw oats into flour for easier breakdown.

– Start with small amounts of raw oats and gradually increase.

– Choose old-fashioned oats or steel-cut oats over quick oats.

– Add fruits, yogurt or milk to provide enzymes for oat digestion.

– Avoid raw oats if you have digestive conditions like IBS or GERD.

Nutrient Content of Raw vs Cooked Oats

Raw and cooked oats have a very similar nutrient profile. Raw oats may contain slightly higher amounts of some vitamins and minerals, while cooked oats may be richer in resistant starch and have fewer antinutrients. Overall, both provide a comparable source of carbs, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Some key nutrients in both raw and cooked oats include:

– Carbohydrates: Raw and cooked oats get nearly 80% of calories from carbs.

– Fiber: About 10 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup serving.

– Protein: Around 13 grams of protein per 1 cup serving.

– Healthy fats: Small amounts of unsaturated fats.

– B vitamins: Raw oats contain slightly more B1, B3 and B5.

– Minerals: Good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese.

– Antioxidants: Raw oats may provide more avenanthramides.

As long as you are eating high-quality whole grain oats and not instant kinds, both raw and cooked oats can provide similar nutritional value. Cooking may slightly reduce some heat-sensitive vitamins. But this should not be a major concern if oats are cooked at lower temperatures and not for prolonged periods.

Key Nutrients in Oats

Nutrient 1/2 Cup Raw Oats 1/2 Cup Cooked Oats
Calories 150 147
Carbs 27 g 25 g
Fiber 4 g 4 g
Protein 6 g 5 g
Iron 10% DV 11% DV

Benefits of Eating Raw Oats

While cooking improves digestibility and nutrient absorption, there are still some benefits that can be obtained from eating raw oats in moderation:

– Higher protein quality: Raw oats may have more intact, undenatured protein.

– Increased enzyme activity: Raw oats contain active enzymes like amylase and protease.

– More antioxidants: Certain heat-sensitive antioxidants like avenanthramides are higher.

– Probiotic microbes: Raw oats can help support a healthy microbiome.

– Intact fiber: The fiber in raw oats provides better bulking effects.

– Crunchy texture: Raw oats add more varied texture compared to soft, cooked oats.

As long as they are soaked, sprouted, or fermented first, raw oats can be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet for most individuals without problems digesting them. But for maximum nutrition and comfort, it is still generally recommended to cook oats before eating whenever possible.

Tips for Incorporating Raw Oats

– Use raw oats in homemade granola bars, cookies or energy balls.

– Add raw oats to smoothies or soaked overnight oats.

– Use raw oat flour in pancakes, muffins or bread.

– Try sprouted raw oats in cereals, salads or trail mixes.

– Mix a small amount of raw oats into your regular cooked oatmeal.

Potential Contamination Risks

One concern surrounding raw oats is the potential for contamination with pathogens, mycotoxins, or other harmful substances:

– Salmonella – Raw oats may become contaminated with salmonella bacteria, especially from cross-contact during manufacturing.

– E. coli – Raw flour or grains can sometimes harbor Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, which can cause serious illness if contaminated raw oats are eaten.

– Mycotoxins – Oats are susceptible to mycotoxins, toxic compounds from certain fungi and molds. Mycotoxins are not destroyed by cooking temperatures.

– Pesticides – Conventionally grown oats may have higher pesticide residues compared to organic. Cooking can help reduce some residues.

– Heavy metals – Oats and other grains may uptake trace amounts heavy metals like arsenic, lead and cadmium from the soil. These are not removed by cooking.

While these risks are quite low, they provide further motivation to cook oats whenever possible rather than eating completely raw. Thoroughly cooking oats to safe temperatures helps destroy potential pathogens like salmonella or E. coli. If you do eat raw oats, choose certified gluten-free oats that are fresh and have been stored properly.

How to Reduce Contamination Risk from Raw Oats

– Purchase certified gluten-free oats, stored sealed in clean facilities.

– Rinse raw oats thoroughly before use.

– Avoid raw oats if you have a compromised immune system.

– Cook oats to an internal temperature of at least 145°F.

– Limit intake of conventionally grown oats and choose organic.

– Soak oats then rinse water to help remove pesticide residues.

Potential Issues with Eating Too Many Raw Oats

While moderate raw oat consumption is fine for most people, there are some potential adverse effects that can occur if you eat too many raw oats or rely on them as a main food source:

– Nutrient malabsorption – High phytic acid intake over time may hinder mineral absorption.

– Digestive problems – Excess raw oats could aggravate digestive conditions like IBS for some.

– Constipation – Raw oats have higher insoluble fiber that lacks the gel-forming property of cooked oats.

– Bloating and flatulence – Too many raw oats may lead to gas and stomach distress.

– Contaminants – Risk of exposure to pathogens, mycotoxins, pesticides increases.

– Imbalance of antinutrients – Beyond phytic acid, raw oats also contain protease inhibitors and tannins that inhibit digestion.

To prevent these potential effects, it is recommended to soak, sprout or ferment raw oats and to consume them in moderation as part of a varied diet. Cooked oats should comprise the bulk of oat intake for most people. Those with digestive issues should exercise particular caution with raw oats.

Recommended Intake of Raw Oats

– Limit raw oats to 1/4-1/2 cup serving per day at most as part of mixed diet.

– Consume raw oats no more than 1-2 times per week for most people.

– Avoid eating raw oats every day or as a main food. Variety is important.

– Monitor digestive symptoms and reduce raw oats if any discomfort.

– Focus on properly soaked, sprouted or fermented raw oats in moderation only.


Raw oats can be safely eaten in moderation by most healthy individuals, especially when properly prepared by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting. This helps improve their digestibility and nutrient availability. But for optimal nutrition and health, it is still recommended to lightly cook oats the majority of the time.

Cooking significantly reduces antinutrients like phytic acid, improves the digestibility of oats, and eliminates any risks from potential pathogens that raw oats may harbor. Raw oats are likely safe in small to moderate quantities for most people, but they should comprise only a minor part of your overall oat intake. Focus on ensuring any raw oats you eat are fresh, gluten-free, rinsed and handled safely.

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