What it is: A species of cereal grain grown for its seed.
Where it comes from: Once considered a weed that grew with barley and wheat, oats are now the third leading cereal crop produced in the United States. Long ago considered a grain for the poor, oats and oatmeal have become more popular in recent years for their health properties.
Properties: Oat grains grow on plants similar to other grain plants, and the seeds have hard outer hulls. The hull must be removed for human consumption, but other parts of the plant are used to make medicine and beauty products.
What it’s good for: Oats are used in food (oatmeal or flour), drinks (British beer, a Latin American sweet drink), to feed horses and cattle, and to soothe skin conditions. Its rough texture makes it a natural exfoliant. It is absorptive, hypoallergenic, and helps to soften skin. Oats also help heal dry, itchy skin, making it a popular treatment for sunburns, eczema, psoriasis, and chicken pox itching.
Where you’ll find it: In beauty products, look for oats in shampoos, moisturizers, cleansers, exfoliating masks, and creams. It’s the principal ingredient in Aveeno products.
Other uses: Oats can help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels by blocking the absorption of substances that contribute to heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes. It can control appetite by causing a feeling of fullness.
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