Viral video on Instagram claims oats can cause cancer. A fact-check by experts – India Today

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There are certain foods that appear healthy but aren’t (hello, soya chaap). Then there are foods that don’t seem healthy but are (desi ghee).

However, we also have foods like oats that not only look healthy but have long been considered beneficial.

Packed with healthy fats, fibre, and protein, oats have been becoming the go-to choice for many Indians for breakfast, especially for those who are always in a hurry.


However, a recent video by ‘longevity sherpa’ Prashant Desai, which is going viral on Instagram, urges people not to consume oats.


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The viral video

On May 27, Prashant Desai posted a reel on his Instagram, where he said, “Oats are not healthy at all.”


Well, according to Prashant, oats contain ‘anti-nutrients’ which “steal away minerals from your food and also raise your blood sugar levels”.

He also says that, contrary to popular belief, they are not a good source of protein and do not contain enough fibre either.

His most shocking claim? Prashant says that oats also ‘contain a herbicide which is linked to cancer’.

“Oat is not good for you, instead go for eggs,” he says.

Have a look at the video:

As of now, the video has more than a million views, and more than 1.5k comments, and has confused a lot of people who regularly consume oats.

What do oats contain?

Dr Neeti Sharma, a senior consultant of nutrition & dietetics at Marengo Asia Hospitals in Gurugram tells India Today that oatmeal is a nutritious whole grain that offers a variety of health advantages.

“While they are not as abundant in protein as meat, dairy, or legumes, they do provide a sufficient quantity of protein and other vital elements,” says Dr Sharma.

Oats are high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Photo: Unsplash
  • She says that oats are a good source of protein, with 11-15% protein by weight, or around 11.1 grams per 100 grams.
  • “This is more than other grains like rice and wheat, but less than legumes like peas and soybeans,” she adds.
  • Dietician Rashi Tantia, the HOD of dietetics at Metro Hospital, Faridabad, also agrees. She says that oats are high in fibre, protein, vitamins (particularly B vitamins), and minerals (such as magnesium, phosphorus and manganese).
  • “This makes for a healthy start to the day,” says Tantia.
  • She further adds that oats are particularly high in soluble fibre, specifically beta-glucan, which aids in maintaining digestive health, decreasing cholesterol levels, and producing a feeling of fullness, which can benefit weight management.
  • “The complex carbs (good carbs) in oats give a slow and steady release of energy, helping maintain stable blood sugar levels and sustain energy throughout the morning,” she adds.
People opt for oats as a healthy breakfast idea. Photo: Unsplash

Now that we know the contents of the oats, and that having oats can be a good way to start your day, let’s try to debunk the viral video.

Can having oats give you cancer?


One of the claims made in the viral video is that oats contain a herbicide that can cause cancer. The herbicide mentioned by Prashant in the video is called glyphosate, which has been linked to cancer.

However, if you consume oats regularly, don’t panic YET.

Saima Shaikh, a clinical dietitian and ketogenic diet expert from Mumbai explains that oats do not contain glyphosate originally.

“A study from 2018 has shown that glyphosate is sprayed on some field crops and fruit, nuts, and vegetable production to keep weeds at bay, which explains that oats originally didn’t have this cancer-causing herbicide,” says Shaikh.

“Glyphosate is not toxic to humans if its intake is in trace amounts through food. It is considered safe as long as you are not consuming higher amounts of glyphosate,” Shaikh adds.


Experts also believe that while farming, the amount that is used is not high anyway, so the oats don’t become carcinogenic.

Tantia agrees. She says that if used in very small quantities, it does not cause cancer.

Now, if you still have concerns, Dr Sharma explains that there are various ways to avoid that. She says:

Use organic oats

Synthetic pesticides such as glyphosate are prohibited under organic cultivation standards. Choosing organic oat products can lower the chance of glyphosate exposure.

Cooking oats can help reduce the residue of other pollutants. Photo: Unpslash

Diversify your diet

Consuming a range of grains and meals can help decrease the possible ingestion of any single pollutant.

Wash and cook your oats

While not proven to lower glyphosate, washing grains and thoroughly cooking them can help reduce residues of other pollutants, says Dr Sharma.

The other claims

We asked experts about the other concerns that the video raised as well. Let’s have a look at some.


Do oats have ‘anti-nutrients’?

The video claims that oats contain ‘anti-nutrients’, which experts seem to agree with. However, it is not very concerning if we dig a little deeper, according to experts.

Shaikh tells us that oats do have anti-nutrients called phytic acid, which makes it difficult for absorption of certain nutrients like zinc and iron.

“Phytic acid is also present in several other grains, cereals, nuts and fruits, for example, mangoes and poha. Does that mean we have to stop eating such foods? No, there’s an easy way to reduce or remove this phytic acid from oats just by soaking the oats in water. So, overnight-soaked oats are definitely not of any concern,” Shaikh clarifies.

Oats don’t have sufficient protein?

The third claim that the video makes is that oats do not have enough protein.

Oats have 11-15% protein content, which is higher than most other grains, contradicts Ritika Samaddar, head of South Zone of dietetics and nutrition at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, New Delhi.

Oats have 11-15% protein content. Photo: Unsplash

“They are an excellent option for breakfast, as besides being healthy, they are easy to prepare: oats smoothies, oats cheela or oats porridge,” says Ritika.

Shaikh also agrees. She further adds that even though oats might have enough protein of their own, combining oats with good sources of protein like milk or egg can form your complete meal.

Choose eggs over oats?

The video asks us to “have eggs over oats”.

One large egg (about 50 grams) contains approximately 6-7 grams of protein. Photo: Unsplash

“Oats are not recommended as a source of protein, they are a source of carbohydrates, specifically complex carbohydrates. This makes the breakdown of food slower, so it helps in a gradual release of glucose,” Shaikh clarifies.

So, there is no point of comparing the two, according to experts.

Remember to consume the right amount of oats

Now that we know oats are good for our body, it does not mean you need to eat them three times a day.

Tantia explains that since oats are abundant in fibre, it is good for the digestive system. She says consuming too much fibre, especially if your body isn’t acclimatised to it, can create digestive issues including bloating, gas, and constipation.

“The recommended daily fibre consumption is approximately 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men, therefore oats should be balanced with other fibre-rich meals,” says Tantia.

Final bite

  • Try to keep your meals interesting and nutrient-dense, and experiment with different oat preparation methods.
  • Consider making oatmeal, overnight oats, oat-based smoothies, or baking with oat flour.
  • Combine oats with a variety of dishes to boost their nutritional value.

Published By:

Dristi Sharma

Published On:

May 30, 2024

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