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Difference between Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat


In learning the difference between these two popular hot breakfasts’ foods, it would be prudent to discuss each one separately, understand their taste, texture and nutritional value and then compare them to each other. The question is if one is better or healthier for a person over the other. Or if they are equally beneficial then is it just a matter of taste or are there more than one way to prepare them for consumption.


Oat groats is where we start. The oat is hulled by removing the outer husk because it is inedible. This will give us the whole grain, which is rich in fiber with the nutritious germ and the main part of the grain which is the endosperm. After a heat treatment they can be processed into a variety of products such as rolled oats, steel cut oats or oat floor. The difference between the steel cut and rolled oats is that the steel cut is simply rolled or flattened to make the rolled oats.

Oatmeal is basically the rolled oats, boiled in water to create a liquid porridge. It can be eaten alone or enhance with fruit or a light sweetener. For a creamier texture milk can be added as well.  Because minimal processing has occurred to bring it to the table for a hearty warm breakfast, it is high in beneficial nutrients.i

Oatmeal contains high percentages of manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, copper, biotin, vitamin B1, magnesium, fiber, chromium, zinc, and protein. As such, it is a very natural health food. It can help in lowering cholesterol levels because of the antioxidant compounds that are a  natural part of oats. More research is currently being conducted on other benefits of oatmeal such as prevention of heart failure, women’s postmenopausal health issues , blood sugar stabilization, immune systems, diabetes, breast cancer prevention just to name a few.

Cream of Wheat

The history of Cream of Wheat started in 1893. There is an interesting story that one can read as noted in the footnoteii  Cream of Wheat is made from wheat semolina. It is basically ground wheat kernels. This is not to be confused with grits, which comes from ground corn. Another term for cream of wheat is farina which is milled wheat. So cream of wheat is from the germ and endosperm of the wheat grain. It is milled to a very fine granular consistency and sifted like sifting flour.

The farina is then mixed with a hot water or hot milk and stirred to make porridge. In getting the most benefit from Cream of Wheat, make sure that it is made from the whole grains and not where the bran and germ have been removed. Aside from adding the nutrient value of milk, cream of wheat contains protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber. It also has a substantial amount of iron and calcium. If it is made with whole grains, there are some health benefits toward reducing heart disease and constipation. The other issue is that it can contribute to a feeling of fullness resulting in less eating of unnecessary calories.

If used by itself, cream of wheat is not the healthiest food as it does not contain the nutritional benefits needed on a daily basis. The energy density of this food is very low. It must be supplemented with other foods to get to the minimal daily requirements for a healthy breakfast.

Now the Comparison

It is not difficult to do a quick search of the internet to find comparisons of oatmeal and cream of wheat. We will compare using the same measurement of one cup. We will also not consider any of the instant or additive nutrients in today’s marketed versions. It is for the basic, non-refined version of both products as a hot cereal using hot water to make the porridge.

1 Cup of Each Oatmeal Cream of Wheat
Calories 166 126
Protein 5.9 grams 3.6 grams
Fiber 4 grams 1.3 grams
Vitamin B Same Same
Folate 14 milligrams 45 milligrams
Niacin 0.5 milligrams 1.3 milligrams
Iron 2 milligrams 9 milligrams
Magnesium 5 times more 1 times
Zinc 7 times more 1 times
Calcium 1 times 10 times more

In addition to a breakfast food, Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat can also be used as a baking ingredient in making cookies, bread, pancakes, cakes and so forth. You could search the internet to find an abundance of recipes for using both.

As you can see from the above discussion and charts, there are many differences between Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat. However, it is a matter of taste and a matter of choice in connection with other natural foods such as fruits and honey, nuts and raisins. All of these, when added to a balanced breakfast of either Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat can substantially increase the value of a healthy diet.

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1 Comment

  1. How about instant oatmeal and instant cream of wheat. Are they as healthy?

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