The Health Benefits of Oat Milk
Oat milk is made from water and oats and may contain added sugar. It is an alternative to cow’s milk, almond milk, and soy milk. As this type of milk gains in popularity, you might wonder: is oat milk good for you? Keep reading below to learn about the pros and cons to decide if it is right for you.
What is Oat Milk?
It is probably no surprise that oat milk comes from oats. It is produced by blending oats with water. The oats used may include rolled oats or steel-cut. After the oats are soaked and combined with water, it is strained to separate the milk from the whole oat. Oat milk is often fortified with nutrients, such as iron, calcium, and vitamin D, to increase its nutritional values.
How Does Oat Milk Differ From Regular Milk?
Oat milk differs from regular milk, as well as other milk alternatives, in texture and nutritional content. Although the exact level of nutrients may vary slightly by manufacturer, below is a comparison between regular milk and oat milk, per every 8-ounce serving.
- Calories: 130
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 2.5 grams
- Carbohydrates: 24 grams
- Sugar: 19 grams
- Calories: 100
- Protein: 8 grams
- Fat: 2.5 grams
- Carbohydrates: 12 grams
- Sugar: 19 grams
Since this type of milk is often fortified, the percentage of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin A are similar between the two. When compared with other milk alternatives, including almond and rice milk, oat milk is a little higher in protein and fiber.
Pros and Cons
When it comes to nutritional guidelines, it is often not a one size fits all. The best dietary choices for an individual may depend on their age, underlying medical conditions, and general health. This type of milk may not be right for everyone. Consider the following pros and cons:
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Some possible pros to drinking oat milk include the following:
- It may be a good option for people with food sensitivities: People who are lactose intolerant may develop symptoms, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea, after drinking cow’s milk. Since it is free of lactose, dairy, soy, and nuts, oat milk may be a good choice for people with food sensitivities.
- Good for people with a nut allergy: Alternatives, such as almond milk, may be an option for some people. But almond milk may not be the right choice for people with a nut allergy. For those with a nut allergy, this type is a better choice.
- Higher in fiber than other milk alternatives: Oat milk has more fiber than other milk alternatives, such as rice or almond milk.
- Has a creamy texture and flavor: This type of milk has a creamy flavor closer to regular milk than other types of alternative milk. The creamy flavor may make it a good choice for adding to hot drinks or cereal.
Some people may also find there are certain cons to drinking oat milk, including:
- Higher in calories than almond or rice milk: This milk is higher in calories than other types of milk.
- May contain small amounts of oils: Although it may vary, certain brands may contain small amounts of stabilizers or oils. You can reduce your chances of added oil when purchasing unsweetened kinds, which contains only a few ingredients.
- May contain trace amounts of gluten: Although oats are gluten-free, they are sometimes processed in the same plants as other types of grains. Those grains contain gluten. So, it is possible for cross-contamination to occur, which means oat milk can contain trace amounts of gluten. For those who are gluten sensitive, be sure to select a brand that states “certified gluten-free” on the label.
- Higher in carbohydrates than other milk alternatives: Compared to other milk alternatives, this type is higher in carbohydrates. For people on a low-carb diet, it may not be their best bet.
Health Benefits and Risks
Oats offer certain health benefits, such as being a good source of fiber. There are no extensive studies on the health benefits, but research in the Journal of Food Science and Technology indicated that it may help delay gastric emptying time, which is linked o a decrease in blood sugar levels. It may also help reduce LDL cholesterol.
There do not appear to be any significant health risks to drinking this type of milk, but because of the possibility of cross-contamination, it may not be best for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Is It Healthier Than Regular Milk?
It's not necessarily healthier than cow’s milk, but it does offer a non-dairy alternative to drinking regular milk. Similar to other types of milk, store-bought types is usually fortified with vitamins A and D, along with calcium.
Who Should Drink It?
Anyone who wants an alternative to regular milk may want to try the oat type. It may be a good choice for people who have food sensitives, such as a nut allergy, or do not want soy in their diet. This type of milk may also be an option for vegans who do not want to consume any type of dairy.