Most consumers can now choose between dairy and oat milk. But, things were not always that way. A few years back, dairy milk was the go-to beverage for most breakfasts. The rise in the popularity of oat milk has been fueled by people’s interest in plant-based diets. (1)
Even though there are many other non-dairy milk alternatives, people seem to prefer the oat variety. Perhaps it’s because oats are more readily available than nuts and almonds. The process involved in making oat milk is also more environmentally friendly.
What is Oat Milk?
Oat milk is a vegan alternative to dairy milk. It’s is lactose-free, high in protein, and low in fat. One of the oat milk benefits is that it comes with good flavor and high nutritional levels. It’s mostly made out of whole-grain oats or steel-cut oats that are soaked, blended, and strained with a specific nut milk bag or cheesecloth.
The leftover pulp from the process contains most of the fiber while the oats have the bulk of the protein. The milk is retained as the harvested liquid. There are some brands that boost their oat milk’s nutritional value by enriching their formula with vitamin D and calcium.
One cup of commercial oats milk contains the following nutritional facts:
- 120 calories
- 3 grams of protein
- 5 grams of fiber
- 5 grams of fat
- 14 grams of carbohydrate
Moreover, the same serving contains 18% of the required dietary allowance (RDH) for vitamin D, 15% for calcium, and 11% for potassium. A similar measurement of cow’s milk with 3.5% fat has the following nutrients:
- 146 calories
- 8 grams of protein
- 8 grams of fat
- 11 grams of carbohydrate
Dairy milk contains 25% of the required dietary allowance for calcium, 1% for iron, and 5% for vitamin A. Unfortunately, dairy milk doesn’t have any fiber. Skim milk may be the only other milk that can be compared to oat milk. It has the following nutrient composition:
- 83 calories
- 0.2 grams of fat
- 8 grams of protein
- 12 grams of carbohydrates
From the above information, it’s easy to conclude that skim milk is a better alternative to milk made from oats. However, it has one major setback. It contains lactose, which does not go well with some people. (2)
Those who have developed a deep liking for oat products can now enjoy a variety of flavors. Some of these oat flavors include low-fat milk, whole milk, organic and semi-organic milk, chocolate milk, and many more.
Different brands will make different flavors that blend with the taste of some homemade desserts and goodies.
Here’s what happens when you drink oat milk:
Oat Milk Benefits
1. It is a great source of fiber.
According to statistics, most Americans don’t get enough fiber during breakfast. This is because most households consume dairy milk with eggs and bacon. Milk that’s made from oats is a good source of fiber. On average, 1 cup contains about 5g of fiber. The minimum recommended daily fiber intake is 25g.
This means that if you drink 5 glasses of oat milk every day, you are getting the required amount of fiber. This nutrient helps your body digest food much better.
This is how it works: your body contains good bacteria or probiotics. Probiotics feed on the fiber and help keep the digestive system in check. These bacteria also help to strengthen the immune system and keep diseases at bay.
2. It helps you to maintain a healthy weight.
One of the major advantages of eating foods rich in fiber is that they make you feel full for longer. This happens because the fiber takes longer to be digested than other foods. It also takes longer to chew fiber-rich foods. The longer you take to chew the food, the quicker it is for you to become satisfied.
However, since you cannot chew milk made from oats, the satiety feeling is as a result of slow digestion. This allows you to eat less and maintain healthy body weight.
3. It is good for your heart.
Even though milk made from oats contains almost the same amount of calories as dairy milk, it is healthier because it contains beta-glucan, which is a type of soluble fiber. The beta-glucan forms a layer in the small intestine to stop bad cholesterol from passing through.
The layer also helps the body produce more bile, which helps regulate the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood. This is why regular consumption of milk made from oats can lead to better heart health. Bad cholesterol tends to increase your risk of getting heart illnesses.
4. It is a good source of calcium
Milk made from oats is fortified and enriched with enough calcium to help keep your bones strong. Moreover, calcium also plays a big part in cardiovascular health, nerve and muscle function, as well as the clotting of blood.
Calcium is also good for lowering your risk of getting osteoporosis, especially if taken in sufficient doses.
5. It is non-GMO
Soy milk is another favorable option; however, it is often made from genetically modified organisms (GMO). About 94% of the soy crops grown in the US are genetically modified to provide the required nutrients. However, not everybody wants to use GMOs. Some people believe these foods can have serious health disadvantages even though there’s no scientific evidence to prove this.
On the other hand, oat milk is made naturally without any GMOs. The oats are picked from the farm and generally without any form of modification.
It’s important to keep in mind that oats are mostly processed from facilities that handle nuts and grains such as wheat, rye, nuts, and other allergens. Therefore, there’s still a minimal chance of cross-contamination. However, in most cases, the oats are free from any form of allergens or contamination.
6. It is great for your vision.
Milk made from oats contains Vitamin A, which is good for your eyes. This vitamin forms a protective layer on the surface of the eyes and prevents dust and bacteria from infecting your eyes.
You should also remember that oat milk contains other vitamins. As some people grow older, they experience macular degeneration, which can lead to vision loss. Vitamin A works in collaboration with other vitamins to stop this condition.
7. It can help prevent chronic conditions.
If you drink milk made from oats, you reduce your chances of getting cancer, arthritis, and heart complications. There are situations that could lead to imbalances between free radicals and antioxidants produced in the body. This state is known as oxidative stress.
Since milk made from oats has anti-inflammatory properties, it helps to reduce oxidative stress and restore balance in the body.
8. It helps to detoxify your body.
Your body may pick up toxins from the foods that you eat or the environment. In most cases, the toxins interfere with normal functioning. You may feel weak and experience some nausea because of it.
The best remedy, in this case, is to drink milk made from oats. This beverage can help free your body from harmful radicals and toxins. It also helps stop abdominal bloating.
Oat milk is not for everyone
There are some commercial products that contain high amounts of sugar, which can be unhealthy because sugary foods reverse oat milk benefits.
In addition, this product is not always gluten-free. Don’t take it if you are lactose intolerant. Always make sure that you check the label for the gluten-free label before you buy the product.
Even though you can make oat milk at home, it will not have the same nutritional benefits as the commercially fortified one.
If you have a young child, you should never substitute breast milk with oat milk because it can hinder the child’s development. Unless your child has some sort of allergic reaction, it’s best to feed them dairy milk because it contains all the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.
Most gluten-free products tend to be more expensive than regular alternatives. If you are trying to save, it’s better if you make this form of milk yourself instead of buying it. However, you may have to supplement it with other foods that are rich in vitamins and proteins since the home-made milk may not be that nutritious.
Final Thoughts on Oat Milk Benefits
As people shift to plant-based diets, oat milk seems like the best alternative when compared to other similar products in the market. With this type of milk, you can either make it at home or buy it ready-made from the grocery store. The good thing about oat milk is that it has a variety of health benefits.