What Is the Difference Between Oat Bran & Whole Grain Oats?

Oats are one of the most popular grains worldwide. They're nutritious, provide numerous health benefits and are a versatile cooking ingredient. Oat bran and whole grain oats both begin as oat groats, the product that results after oat grain is cleaned, toasted and hulled. Bran and whole oats contain much of the nutrition as the original oat groat, but they are processed in different ways. Oatmeal, or rolled oats, are processed further, losing some of the nutrition whole oats contain.

Whole Grain Oats

The whole grain of the oat is often referred to as Scotch, Irish or steel-cut oats. These result when oat groats are cut by steel blades into small, light-brown pieces. The oats take about the same time to cook as oat grouts, anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour. Many people soak the oats overnight to speed up cooking in the morning. These whole-grain oats include the oat bran.

Oat Bran

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Oat bran is the outer layer of the oat grain, just beneath the inedible husk. While it is part of oat grouts and steel-cut oats, you'll also find it sold separately at health food stores or in the bulk foods section of your local grocery. Use oat bran in the same way you would wheat germ, the outer layer of the wheat grain, by sprinkling it over your cereal or in soups and stews.


Both oat bran and whole oats are high in vitamin B1 and contain a good amount of vitamins B2 and E. Both varieties of oats also are a good source of magnesium and also contain potassium, iron, zinc, pantothenic acid and copper. They are low in fat and contain no cholesterol. Oat bran contains about 5.4 grams of protein in a 1 ounce serving, while whole grain oats contain 4 grams of protein.


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The large amount of insoluble fiber in oats helps to lower your cholesterol and regulate your digestive system. Both types of oats contain lots of fiber, with 6 grams for whole grain oats and 4.9 grams in a third-cup serving for oat bran. On the other hand, highly processed oat cereals, while still a healthy breakfast choice, contain 1.2 grams of fiber in a third-cup serving.