Is it OK to eat uncooked oatmeal?

Quick Answer

It is generally safe to eat uncooked oats in moderation, but it is not recommended. Oats contain phytic acid, which blocks nutrient absorption, and Avenin proteins, which can be difficult to digest when uncooked. Cooking oats breaks down phytic acid and avenin, making the nutrients easier to absorb. Eating large amounts of uncooked oats could lead to nutrient deficiencies, digestive issues, or discomfort over time. It’s better to enjoy oatmeal and oat-based recipes after cooking.

What Are the Concerns with Eating Uncooked Oats?

There are a few main concerns with eating uncooked oats regularly or in large amounts:


Oats contain phytic acid, also known as phytates. Phytates can bind to minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium in foods and make them harder to absorb in the digestive tract. Soaking, sprouting and cooking can help reduce phytates in oats. Eating large amounts of uncooked oats means you could miss out on some of these important minerals.

Digestive Issues

The starch and fiber in raw oats may be difficult for some people to digest. Cooking oats breaks down the fiber and starch, making it easier on digestion. People with digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may experience more bloating, gas or stomach pain when eating uncooked oats.


The texture of raw oats is quite dense and chewy compared to cooked oatmeal. Some people may find this unpleasant or difficult to eat, especially in larger amounts.

AVENIN Proteins

Oats contain avenin proteins. Some people may be sensitive or intolerant to avenin. Cooking oats can help break down avenin proteins and reduce symptoms if you have an intolerance.

Foodborne Illness

There is a very small risk of foodborne illness from eating uncooked oats that have been contaminated or stored improperly. Oats are not a high-risk food, but cooking them kills potential bacteria or molds and is an extra precaution.

Are There Any Benefits to Eating Uncooked Oats?

While oats are best enjoyed cooked, there are a few potential benefits to eating them uncooked:

More Fiber

Raw oats retain all their insoluble fiber from the oat bran. Fiber helps regulate digestion, promotes fullness and healthy bowel movements.

Crunchy Texture

The chewy, dense texture of raw oats provides sensory appeal and variety in your diet.

Quicker to Prepare

Rinsing and soaking oats takes less time than cooking them for oatmeal or baking. Uncooked oats can be handy for a faster breakfast or snack on-the-go.

Higher Antioxidant Content

Cooking can reduce some of the antioxidant content in oats, including avenanthramides that have anti-inflammatory benefits. Raw oats retain more antioxidants.

Are Oat Groats, Steel-Cut Oats and Rolled Oats Edible Uncooked?

Oats come in a few different forms, like groats, steel-cut and rolled. Here’s what you need to know about eating each one uncooked:

Oat Groats

Oat groats are the whole, unprocessed oat kernels. They take the longest to cook, but can be soaked in liquid for a quicker cooking time. Oat groats have a very dense, chewy texture uncooked that can be unpalatable for some.

Steel-Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are oat groats that have been chopped into smaller pieces. This makes them cook faster than groats. They still have a quite firm, dry texture when raw. The smaller pieces may be easier to chew than groats, but they are still dense.

Rolled Oats

Rolled oats, also called old-fashioned oats, are oat groats that have been steamed and rolled into flatter flakes for quicker cooking. The flatter shape gives rolled oats more surface area, allowing them to soak up liquids faster. Rolled oats have a softer texture uncooked compared to groats, but retain a definite crunch and bulk. Quick oats are simply rolled thinner for even faster cooking.

In summary, all forms of oats can be eaten uncooked due to their similar nutritional profile. But groats and steel-cut oats are quite dense and may need more chewing. Rolled oats have a softer texture that may be easier to eat raw.

What Are Some Tips for Eating Raw Oats?

If you want to eat oats uncooked, here are some tips to make them more palatable and minimize digestive issues:

– Start with a small amount such as 1-2 tablespoons to see how your body handles raw oats. Gradually increase serving size as tolerated.

– Chew raw oats very well to help break them down since they won’t soften during cooking.

– Choose rolled oats or chopped steel-cut oats for a less dense texture.

– Soak oats overnight in yogurt, milk or water to soften before eating.

– Mix oats into smoothies to disguise the texture.

– Sweeten raw oats with fruit, honey, maple syrup or cinnamon to offset the bitter taste.

– Dehydrate oats at a very low temperature (under 118°F) to reduce the chewy texture.

– Sprout oat groats to reduce phytic acid and make nutrients more bioavailable.

– Rinse oats well to remove any dirt or debris before eating raw.

– Drink plenty of fluids to aid digestion and prevent constipation.

– Introduce raw oats gradually and stop eating them if you experience bloating, stomach pain or diarrhea.

Should Certain Groups Avoid Raw Oats?

There are some groups who may want to avoid eating uncooked oats or at least limit intake:


The dense texture can be difficult for some children to chew thoroughly. Their smaller bodies are also more sensitive to digestive upset from raw oats.

Elderly Adults

Older adults often have difficulty chewing and digesting raw grains. Starting the day with cooked oatmeal is a better choice.

Those with Dental Issues

People with dentures, braces or chewing difficulties shouldn’t eat hard, raw oats that could possibly damage dental work or cause choking.

Those with GI Issues

Anyone diagnosed with IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or diverticulitis should avoid raw oats as insoluble fiber can worsen gut inflammation and discomfort.

People with Diverticulosis

Those with small pouches in the colon wall should not eat whole grains raw due to the risk of pouches becoming inflamed and infected.

Anyone with Iron Deficiency

The phytic acid in uncooked oats can hinder iron absorption. Individuals at risk for anemia should avoid raw oat consumption.

Those with Avenin Intolerance

People with sensitivity to the avenin proteins in oats often tolerate oats better after cooking to break down the avenin compounds.

What Dishes or Recipes Use Raw Oats?

There are ways to include raw oats in your diet through certain recipes:

Overnight Oats

This breakfast dish involves soaking rolled oats in a liquid like milk or yogurt and refrigerating overnight. The oats soften but retain some chewiness. Additional toppings like fruit and nuts are common.

No-Bake Oat Bars and Cookies

Recipes for no-bake granola bars, energy bites and oat cookies don’t require baking, just mixing and chilling the dough. The oats retain their raw texture in the final product.

Oat Smoothies

Raw oats can be blended into smoothies to provide thickness and nutritional benefits. A little bit of raw oats goes a long way in smoothies.

Raw Oat Crumbles

Raw oats can be used a substitute for bread crumbs to coat meats or top casseroles. Pulse oats in a food processor for smaller crumbles.

Homemade Granola

Some granola recipes are made from raw rolled oats that are slowly dehydrated in the oven at less than 170°F. This retains nutrients while improving the texture.

Oat Milk

Oat milk is made by blending raw oats with water, then straining out the solids. The milk has a light oat flavor and creamy texture.

What Are the Nutrition Facts for Raw Oats?

One ounce (about 1⁄4 cup) serving of dry oats nutrition provides:

Calories 109
Protein 4 g
Carbs 19 g
Fiber 2.5 g
Fat 2.5 g
Calcium 11 mg
Iron 1.2 mg
Potassium 69 mg

Oats provide protein, fiber, antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals like manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and folate. The fiber is a mix of soluble and insoluble.

The nutrition is similar cooked versus raw, though some nutrients are better absorbed after cooking.

What Are the Potential Downsides of Eating Too Many Raw Oats?

Eating raw oats in moderation is likely safe for most people. However, there are some potential adverse effects from consuming too many:

– Nutritional deficiencies from phytic acid limiting mineral absorption

– Constipation from concentrated fiber without enough fluid

– Bloating, gas and abdominal pain from insoluble fiber irritating the intestines

– Higher exposure to bacteria or molds if oats become contaminated

– Avevenin intolerance symptoms like rash, digestive upset and congestion

– Choking hazard if not chewed thoroughly, especially in children and elderly

– Dental damage from hard oats if you have dental issues

– Blockages or obstructions if eaten dry without adequate liquids

To prevent these potential issues, limit raw oats to no more than 1-2 servings per day. Make sure to drink adequate fluids and chew thoroughly. Stop eating them right away if any discomfort occurs.


While raw oats are edible, it is best to enjoy oats after cooking them to reduce their phytic acid content and avenin proteins. This makes their nutrients more bioavailable and easier to digest. Raw oats are dense and chewy, which can be unpleasant in texture or difficult to break down during digestion.

Cooking oats also offers more versatility to incorporate oats into a wide range of delicious recipes. Feel free to enjoy raw oats sparingly in soaked overnight oats, smoothies or certain no-bake goods. But for most people, cooked oatmeal and baked oat recipes make the best choice for all the nutritional benefits oats have to offer.

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