Do you love a warm bowl of oatmeal full of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg? How about a bowl of warm porridge topped with a drizzle of honey and walnuts? While both sound delicious, have you ever sat and wondered what the differences between these two dishes are nutrition-wise?
Well, that's just what we did — we've broken down the differences between porridge and oatmeal so you know the right time for each in your morning routine.
What Is Porridge?
Porridge is a dish often served for breakfast, made of any grain or legume cooked down in milk or water. Other ingredients can be added to the porridge to improve the taste and texture, such as spices like cinnamon, a sweetener like maple syrup, and nuts or seeds.
The first reference to porridge in history books is from China, going back thousands of years. Their grain of choice was rice. Modern Chinese culture still includes a porridge, called congee, which is thought to promote good health and improve digestion thanks to nourishing ingredients like ginger.
While it is called different names, porridge is a popular dish in many cultures. In Russia, porridge is called kasha and made with buckwheat. Buckwheat is a seed from the rhubarb family, but it's treated like a grain, making it a gluten-free porridge option. The Finnish have a dish called ruispuuro, which is made with rye flour. Genfo is a dish from Ethiopia made of barley flour.
In the United States alone there are many different types of porridge. One popular type is called grits, which you may have eaten tons of if you live in the Midwest or the South, without even realizing it was a type of porridge! This dish is generally made with cornmeal and usually has a creamy consistency. It can be made savory with butter, cheese, and seasonings, or can be made sweet with butter and a sweetener of your choice, like maple syrup.
Is Porridge the Same Thing as Oatmeal?
The main type of porridge consumed in the United States and Canada is called oatmeal. While all oatmeal is porridge, not all porridge is oatmeal, and this is really the only difference.
In other words, oatmeal is a type of porridge, i.e., a porridge made from oats. Other porridges, as mentioned above, can be made from a variety of bases.
Our porridge includes nuts, seeds, and superfoods to fuel you, whether you’re enjoying your porridge first thing in the morning, as an easy lunch, or as a comforting way to end your day.
Oatmeal is a warm, comforting dish made of oats cooked down in water or milk, and can be served warm or cold. Oatmeal and a warm beverage is the perfect breakfast for a cool morning.
There are different types of oats used for oatmeal, some are steel-cut (also called Irish oats) which are not flattened but cut with steel blades into smaller pieces. This type of oatmeal takes longer to cook than the more common rolled oats. Rolled oats are flattened out, which makes them quicker to cook and better for baking items like oatmeal cookies. There are also whole oats, sometimes called groats or Scottish oats, which are minimally processed leaving the outer part, or bran, whole. Keeping the bran leaves all of the nutrients intact.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Porridge?
Even the simplest porridge can have many health benefits, but when you add in ingredients like nuts, seeds, and a boost of protein from chocho (like in our Super Porridge), the benefits are next-level.
With the right ingredients, porridge can be full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and protein. Porridge is simple, unpretentious, satisfying, and packed with nutrients.
Here are some specific ways porridge can benefit health:
Fuels You With Healthy Fats
There are two types of healthy fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, which are both found in nuts and seeds. These fats support healthy cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and benefit heart health. Adding nuts and seeds, such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hemp seeds, pecans, walnuts, and flax, provides these health benefits and enhances the taste and texture of the porridge.
Packed With Fiber
Whole grains, specifically oats, are incredibly high in fiber. Fiber is extremely important for the health of the gut. Not only does fiber support healthy digestion, but it also contributes to the health of the gut microbiome with special fibers called prebiotics. Prebiotics are fibers that provide food for the good bacteria in the gut.
A diet high in fiber can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, aid metabolic function, and support weight management.
Helps Ignite Your Metabolism
Your body burns twice the amount of calories when digesting whole grains than when digesting processed foods. Eating porridge for breakfast can help jumpstart your metabolism — it takes a long time to digest all the fiber in oatmeal.
During digestion, oatmeal turns into energy. This energy is slowly released over a few hours, instead of spiking you with energy all at once. Not only are you burning calories, but it leaves you feeling full longer and provides you with energy to get you through your busy day.
With porridge, the sky's the limit when it comes to flavors. Whether you like sweet or savory foods, there is an option for you.
You can make a dessert porridge with oats, chocolate chips, and bananas. Or, you can go savory with brown rice congee made with tamari (which is gluten-free), mushrooms, and green onions.
You can also make a breakfast porridge loaded with fresh berries and nuts.
Either way, porridge can fit anyone's taste preferences, and even though it is often eaten at breakfast, it can be a great meal for any time of day.
Porridge and oatmeal, while oftentimes used interchangeably, are not exactly the same but also not too different. Traditional porridge is made by cooking down grains or legumes, and oatmeal is just a specific type of porridge.
This humble food has many different names and ingredients throughout different cultures, but one thing remains the same — starting your day off with this comforting and often nourishing breakfast dish can bring you many health benefits, like energy that lasts through the day and fiber to keep your gut healthy.
At Kroma Wellness, we are all about offering healthy, whole food options, in an easy, convenient way. That is why our Super Porridge is individually packed into one serving for each day of our 5-Day Reset Program, along with tons of other easy-to-prepare superfoods that can help you reshape how your nutrition fuels holistic wellness.
Types of Fat | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet | Mayo Clinic
12 Metabolism-Boosting Foods for Weight Loss Infographic | Unity Point