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Whole Grain Oats Vs. Rolled Oats: What’s The Difference?

Posted by Soulfull Project on
whole grain oats fields

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between whole grain oats and rolled oats is, trust us, you’re not alone. So many products are processed to within an inch of their life these days that it can be hard to discern what’s “whole grain” and what’s not.

In this article, we discuss the difference between whole grain oats and rolled oats so you can make the right choice for your family.

We’ll also let you in on how you can be a part of The Soulfull Project’s unique community efforts to supply servings of our whole grain oats hot cereal to food banks in your area.

What Are Whole Grain Oats?

 Whole grain oats plant

Before we discuss whole grain oats in particular, let’s back up a step and find out what makes a food “whole grain.”

Whole Grains Defined

A whole grain — be it barley, buckwheat, or brown rice — is one that contains all the edible parts that the plant produces, including the:

  • Bran
  • Endosperm
  • Germ

The bran is the hard outer shell of the whole grain and contains antioxidants, fiber, and minerals. The endosperm is the middle layer and is high in carbohydrates. The germ is the inner layer and contains vitamins, minerals, protein, and other plant compounds.

As you can see, each layer offers a different macronutrient, which is why it’s important to eat whole grain instead of refined (or processed) grain whenever possible.

How is refined grain different from whole grain?

Before they reach your store shelf, refined grains undergo extensive processing to remove the germ and the bran, leaving behind just the endosperm.

Essentially, refined grain is just carbohydrates without the nutritional value of the other parts of the plant.

While you do need good carbohydrates every day to keep your mind and body healthy, it’s very easy to get too many carbohydrates if all you eat is processed grain and products made with them.

That brings us, then, to the heart of this article: whole grain oats.

Whole Grain Oats Defined

Building on the definition above, whole grain oats are oats that have not been heavily processed and that still contain the bran, the endosperm, and the germ from the original plant.

So, when you eat whole grain oats, you’re getting all three of the essential macronutrients your body needs to maintain a healthy activity level — protein, carbohydrates, and fat — along with a hearty dose of antioxidants, fiber, and minerals.

For example, The Soulfull Project’s Brown Sugar Pecan Multigrain Hot Cereal (made with whole grain oats and other grains) contains 40g of carbohydrates (including 6g of fiber), 7g of protein, and 12g of healthy fat.

That’s a well-rounded meal that can’t be beat!

But what about rolled oats? How do those compare to whole grain oats? We’ll discuss that in the next section.

What Are Rolled Oats? 

whole grain oats

The easiest way to understand rolled oats is to go back to the oat stalk growing in the field. Can you picture yourself there? Good.

Now, grab a stalk of oats, remove the kernels, and place them in a pile. What have you got? Raw oat groats!

Next, take a handful of those groats, steam them, and roll them between two hard surfaces (like a countertop and a rolling pin) before they dry. Congrats! You’ve just made your very own rolled (or old-fashioned) oats.

Rolled oats are partially cooked (because of the steam), so they take much less time to prepare (two to five minutes) and have a milder flavor and softer texture than their close relative, steel cut oats (which are essentially just chopped oat groats).

Did you notice that we didn’t mention removing the germ and the bran? The only processing that rolled oats undergo is steaming and pressing. That means rolled oats are whole grain oats.

Whole Grain Oats Vs. Rolled Oats

 whole grain oats hot cereal

When it comes right down to it, trying to figure out the difference between whole grain oats and rolled oats is like trying to figure out the difference between fruit and apples.

Whole grain, like fruit, is a general description that applies to a wide variety of foods. Just as there are many different kinds of fruit (e.g., apples, oranges, bananas, and grapes), there are many different whole grains — including oats!

And, just as there are different varieties of apples, for example, there are also different varieties of oats.

We discussed rolled oats in the previous section, but there are also steel cut oats (a.k.a. Irish oats, pinhead oats, or coarse cut oats) and instant oats.

As we mentioned earlier, steel cut oats are just chopped oat groats straight out of the field — you can’t get much less processed than that.

Because steel cut oats are processed very little, they have a coarser feel, chewier texture, and nuttier flavor than other types of oatmeal. They also take longer to prepare because they’re much denser and thicker than the other types of whole grain oats.

Instant oats, on the other hand, are oat groats that have been steamed and rolled as thin as possible — much thinner than rolled oats. Because of this extra processing, instant oats cook in one to two minutes, have a very mild flavor and a soft, mushy texture.

Regardless of the type of oats you choose — steel cut, rolled, or instant — you can rest assured that the stuff you scoop into your bowl each morning is 100% whole grain oats.

That means you’re free to choose your favorite variety of oatmeal based on flavor, texture, cook time, and any number of other personal preferences — without worrying that you’re somehow getting less nutrition and fewer health benefits — because they’re ALL whole grain oats.

Bottom line: If you’re eating oatmeal, you’re eating whole grain oats!

Whole Grain Oats For All

Soulfull Project whole grain oats


At The Soulfull Project, we believe that whole grain oats are for all. That’s why we make a variety of oatmeal and hot cereal products for every taste and preference.

Our flavors include:

No matter which oatmeal or hot cereal you choose, you’ll get hearty — and heart-healthy — ingredients, including:

  • Rye
  • Quinoa
  • Flax
  • Chia
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Blueberries
  • Coconut
  • Apples
  • Almonds
  • Pecans

You can also add your own ingredients to our filling hot cereals for a truly unique and delicious meal.

If you want something with a bit more crunch, try The Soulfull Project Crispy Granola, which comes in three delicious flavors: Toasted Coconut, Maple Pecan, and Dark Chocolate Cherry.

And if you’re looking for more gluten-free, nut-free options to keep you looking and feeling your best, check out our Don’t Go Nuts soy spreads and chewy granola bars.

When you experience what whole grain oats (and the products we make with them) can do for you, you’ll want to share what you’ve found with others. With The Soulfull Project, you can!

For every serving you purchase, The Soulfull Project will provide a serving of our hot cereal to a regional food bank in your area.

 Pictogram of how The Soulfull Project Serves the community

Our hope is that The Soulfull Project’s oatmeals and hot cereals will help make it easy for all of us to have an impact on the health and happiness of our neighbors. That’s peace of mind and body you can’t find anywhere else.

For more information on the serving-for-serving program and to check out all our delicious hot cereal flavors, visit today.

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