Steel Cut Oats vs. Rolled Oats vs. Quick Oats – What’s the Difference?

February is Heart Health Month and oats have a stellar reputation for their heart health benefit. Do you know the difference between each variety of oats?

variety of oats in steel measuring cups

Fiber’s role in heart health

Dietary fiber can help improve blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and even type 2 diabetes.

The American Heart Association recommends that at least half of the grains you eat be whole grains. Eating whole grains (like oats) are consistently associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease. Whole grain oats and oat bran can help lower blood cholesterol thanks to the power of beta-glucan – a soluble fiber, largely unique to oats, that basically tells your liver to pull LDL cholesterol out of the blood. Then, it binds to some of the cholesterol in your gut, keeping it from ever reaching your bloodstream.

You head to the grocery store to pick up oats, and there are so many options. Steel-cut oats, rolled oats, old-fashioned oats – what’s the difference?

different variety of oats on a wooden board

Steel Cut Oats

steel cut oats in a metal measuring cup

Steel-cut oats, also known as Irish or Scottish oats, are oats that are processed by chopping the whole oat groat into several pieces. This type of oatmeal takes the longest to cook. Why? Because the outside layer of the whole grain, the bran, is fully intact. A longer cook time penetrates through the bran creating tender, yet a chewy texture that retains much of its shape even after cooking.

Don’t have time in the morning to cook steel-cut oats? I don’t blame you! Prepare them in advance by cooking them over the stovetop, in a crockpot, or Instant Pot. Or try my frozen muffin tin method.

Get the recipe: Frozen (Single Serving) Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

Rolled Oats

rolled oats in a metal measursing cup

Rolled oats, also known as old-fashioned oats, are created when oat groats are steamed and then rolled into flakes. This process stabilizes the healthy oils in the oats, so they stay fresh longer, and helps the oats cook faster, by creating a greater surface area.

Rolled oats cook faster than steel-cut oats. They absorb more liquid and hold their shape well during cooking. With their faster cook time, enjoy a bowl of warm oatmeal in the morning or use in recipes like muffins, granola, pancakes, or other baked good recipes.

Get the recipe: Quinoa Oatmeal with Berries

Quick Oats

quick oats in a metal measuring cup

Quick oats, also known as minute oats or instant oats are rolled oats and that are steamed for even longer. As the most processed type of oat, instant oatmeal cooks in seconds and has a smooth, creamy, and soft consistency and mild flavor.

Quick cook more quickly than steel-cut or rolled oats, but retain less of their texture, and often cook up mushy. Plus, be mindful of the multiple varieties of quick oats in the shelf. Tip: Opt for the quick oats in the canister vs. the individual packets. Not only will you save money, but often the packets contain disodium phosphate (aka. salt), to help them swell even faster in the microwave, whereas the canister contains just the oats. Additionally, the packets contain added sugar, if choosing the flavored varieties.

Get the recipe: Apple Pie Overnight Oats

oatmeal with strawberries and raspberries in a white bowl

New Research

Consuming uncooked oats, like overnight oats that are soaked in milk or yogurt to soften, contain resistant starch. Resistant starch is a carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine. As the fibers ferment they act as a prebiotic and feed the good bacteria in the gut.

The John Hopkins Patient Guide to Diabetes notes that “When starches are digested they typically break down into glucose. Because resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine, it doesn’t raise glucose. Gut health is improved as fermentation in the large intestine makes more good bacteria and less bad bacteria in the gut. Healthy gut bacteria can improve glycemic control. Other benefits of resistant starch include increased feeling of fullness, treatment and prevention of constipation, decrease in cholesterol, and lower risk of colon cancer. Resistant starch is fermented slowly so it causes less gas than other fibers.”

This post may contain affiliate links. To find out more information, please read my disclosure statement.

Recipes you may enjoy

Go Nuts for Heart Health + 70 Recipes Using Nuts

Eating nuts can help your heart. Discover how nuts help lower your cholesterol when eaten as part of a balanced diet.
Go Nuts for Heart Health via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen
Why eating nuts help your heart:
People who eat nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet can lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol level in their blood. High LDL is one of the primary causes of heart disease.
Eating nuts as part of a healthy diet can be good for your heart. Nuts, which contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients, are a great snack food, too. A serving is a small handful (1.5 ounces) of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter (serving size recommendation from the American Heart Association). But again, do this as part of a heart-healthy diet. Just eating nuts and not cutting back on saturated fats found won’t do your heart any good.

What’s in nuts that make them “heart healthy”?
Besides being packed with protein, most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy attributes:

  • Unsaturated fats. The “good” fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help lower bad cholesterol levels.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that help your heart. Nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Fiber. All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. When fiber is consumed regularly as part of a diet low in saturated fat and trans fat, soluble fiber has been associated with increased diet quality and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber makes you feel full, so you eat less.
  • Vitamin E. Vitamin E may help stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in your arteries can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
  • Plant sterols. Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower your cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.
  • L-arginine. Nuts are also a source of l-arginine, which is a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

What amount of nuts is considered healthy?

  • As much as 80 percent of a nut is fat. Even though most of this fat is healthy fat, it’s still a lot of calories. That’s why you should eat nuts in moderation.
  • Instead of eating unhealthy saturated fats, try substituting a handful of nuts or a tablespoon or two of a nut spread. The American Heart Association recommends eating four servings of unsalted nuts a week. Select raw or dry-roasted nuts rather than those cooked in oil.

Go Nuts for Heart Health - Recipes using nuts - via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen


Strawberry Arugula Salad with Fennel, Toasted Almonds, and Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette via Nutritioulicious
Roasted Almonds with Cocoa via Food Pleasure, and Health
Banana Oat Blender Muffins via The Baby Steps Dietitian
Almond Raspberry Banana Baked Rice via Amy Gorin Nutrition
Salted Honey Sesame Almonds via Live Best
Spicy Curry Almond Butter Sauce via Macro Balanced
Balsamic Roasted Almonds via RDelicious Kitchen
Cherry Almond Energy Bites via Marisa Moore Nutrition
Mu Shu Shrimp via Hungry Hobby
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Parmesan via The Nutrition Adventure
Almond Granola Cups via Triad To Wellness
Romesco via The Nutritious Bite
Roasted Green Beans with Almonds and Bacon via Hungry Hobby
Almond Flour Blueberry Pancakes via 80 Twenty Nutrition
Sweet and Spicy Almonds via Nutrition Artist
Almond Clusters via Nourished Simply
No Bake Almond Bars with Berry Chia Jam via One Hungry Bunny
Jumbo Skillet Apple Pancake via RDelicious Kitchen


Sweet Potato-Carrot Casserole with Maple Pecans via Nutritioulicious
Grilled Cantaloupe Salad with Blueberry Ginger Vinaigrette via Healthy Made Easy
Oatmeal Pecan Cookies via Hungry Hobby

Peanuts/Peanut Butter

Loaded Apple Nachos via The Nutritionist Reviews
Peanut Butter Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies via RDelicious Kitchen
Healthy Fudge via Create Kids Club
Double Layer Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge via RDelicious Kitchen


Carob Walnut Energy Balls via Food, Pleasure, and Health
Blueberry Walnut Chickpea Salad via Kiss in the Kitchen
Savory Mediterranean Yogurt Parfait via Healthy Made Easy
Chickpea Walnut Sandwich via RDelicious Kitchen
Carrot Cake Quinoa Bars via Byte Sized Nutrition
Chai Walnuts via Live Best
Walnut Mushroom Lasagna Rolls via Live Best
Peach Walnut Crisp via RDelicious Kitchen
Beet & Apple Salad in an Edible Walnut Salad Bowl via Emily Kyle Nutrition
Kale Glory Bowl via Euphoria Nutrition
Honey Apricot Quinoa Granola via Euphoria Nutrition
Walnut Pesto Turkey Burgers via Hungry Hobby
Pasta with Swiss Chard and Walnut Pesto via RDelicious Kitchen
Roasted Broccoli and Walnut Pasta via Marisa Moore Nutrition
Kale Walnut Pesto via Gowin Nutrition
Dark Chocolate Walnut Butter via My Cape Cod Kitchen
Mini Caramelized Banana Split Sundaes via My Cape Cod Kitchen
Pumpkin Spice Walnuts via 80 Twenty Nutrition


Green Cashew Chicken Curry via Erica Julson
Creamy Tomato Soup via RDelicious Kitchen
Sweet Potato Noodles with Sage Cashew Cream Sauce via The Foodie Dietitian
Hawaiian Chicken Cauliflower Fried Rice via RDelicious Kitchen
15 Minute Cashew Chicken via The Nutritionist Reviews


Pistachio-Stuffed Chicken Breasts via Nutritioulicious
Chocolate Strawberry Overnight Oats with Pistachio Topping via Amy Gorin Nutrition
Savory Pistachio Encrusted Salmon via Nutrition Pro Consulting
No Bake Tahini Energy Bars via Dishing Out Health
Banana Coconut Oatmeal via Real Living Nutrition
Pistachio Coconut Milk via Desi-licious RD
5-minute Pistachio Apricot Balls via Desi-licious RD
Roasted Pears with Dried Plums and Pistachios via Nutrition Starring You
Pistachio Cherry Coconut Crisp via The Plant-Powered Dietitian
Penne Pasta Tomato Salad with Lemon and Pistachios via The Plant-Powered Dietitian


Hazelnut Oatmeal Baked Pears via One Hungry Bunny
Chocolate Hazelnut Smoothie Bowl via RDelicious Kitchen
Penne with Kale, Tomato, and Hazelnuts via How To Eat

Mixed Nuts

Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Ancient Grain Snack Mix via Shaw’s Simple Swaps
5 Nut Butters to Boost Your Health via Smart Nutrition
Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites via Amy Gorin Nutrition
Homemade Dark Chocolate Chunky Bar via Healthy Made Easy
Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix via Byte Sized Nutrition
Homemade Fruit & Nut “KIND Bars” via Erica Julson
Low Carb No-Bake Nutty Caramel Energy Bites via The Spicy RD
How to Make a Healthy Trail Mix via The Nutrition Adventure
Nut Quick Bread via Better is the New Perfect
RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen

Mocha Latte

You don’t have to get out of your pajamas and wait on line at Starbucks to enjoy lattes anymore. Learn how simple it is to make your own latte at home. This Mocha Latte tastes indulgent without breaking the bank.

Mocha Latte in a color mug with biscotti

Disclosure: I was asked to participate in the @CocoaVia #HeartMonth campaign as a member of the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network. I was compensated for my time.

I’m from New Jersey and in NJ people feel very strongly about their coffee. Dunkin vs. Starbucks. When I say people feel very strongly about their coffee, they will openly tell you why they like their choice and how you should too.

Dunkin or Starbucks?

I don’t often get coffee out, as I prefer to make it at home, but when I want to grab a quick cup of coffee I’ll stop at Dunkin. For more of the specialty drinks, like lattes, I prefer Starbucks, so you could say I’m the rare NJ coffee drinker. I don’t pick sides.

Mocha Latte in a colorful mug with a biscotti

I’m the type of morning person where coffee must be present during my morning routine. I don’t want to have to wait until I’m already out the door to get my caffeine fix. Coffee beverages, like lattes, can be part of a healthy diet. An average latte contains one full serving of dairy.

When I found this little milk frother gadget, I realized how easy it was to make lattes at home and get that perfect amount of foam like if a barista was making you a latte right in your own kitchen.

Mocha Latte with biscotti

There is just something about sipping on a warm coffee in the morning that makes me happy. Skip the chocolate syrup for a mocha latte and try using a packet of unsweetened dark chocolate CocoaVia® cocoa extract supplement, a daily cocoa extract supplement that delivers the highest concentration of cocoa flavanols, which are scientifically proven to promote a healthy heart by supporting healthy blood flow†.

Mocha Latte

Chocolate is a fabulous treat, but it’s not a reliable way to get sufficient quantities of cocoa flavanols. Traditional cocoa processing, which includes drying, fermenting and roasting of beans, destroys many of the flavanols naturally present in the cocoa bean. CocoaVia® supplement isolates the “good stuff” in chocolate in a convenient, versatile form, without all the calories and fat.

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Mocha Latte with biscotti

Mocha Latte

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Yield: 1


Cozy up to a delicious mocha latte that you can make right at home!


  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 8 ounces low-fat milk
  • 1 packet CocoaVia® unsweetened dark chocolate packet
  • (optional) 1/4 teaspoon coconut sugar (or sweetener of your choice)


  1. Prepare instant espresso by stirring instant espresso powder with hot water in a coffee mug.
  2. In a small pot over low-medium heat, warm the almond milk, just until tony bubbles begin to surface. Remove from heat and use an electric milk frother to create foam.
  3. Slowly pour the warmed milk over the prepared espresso using a large spoon to hold back the milk foam. Spoon as much foam as you desire on top.
  4. Stir in one CocoaVia® unsweetened dark chocolate packet and coconut sugar (if using).
  5. Serve immediately.


CocoaVia® cannot be baked or heated, as the process will destroy the cocoa flavanols; It can be poured into hot milk or other liquid

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