In recent years, plant-based milk alternatives have become incredibly popular.
Particularly, oat milk is a good choice for people with allergies or intolerances. It’s naturally free of lactose, nuts, soy, and gluten if made from certified gluten-free oats.
Not to mention, it’s delicious and may benefit bone and heart health.
This article explores oat milk, its nutrition, benefits, and how to make your own.
What Is Oat Milk?
Oat milk is a popular dairy-free, vegan-friendly milk substitute.
It’s made by soaking and blending steel-cut or rolled oats with water and then straining them through cheesecloth to separate the milk from the oats.
Naturally, oat milk isn’t as nutritious as whole oats. As a result, it’s often enriched with nutrients — including calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamins A and D.
Oat milk is unique in that it’s free of many of the allergens found in other types of milk. Plus, it contains beta-glucans — a soluble fiber that may offer heart health benefits.
Due to its growing popularity, you can find oat milk in most grocery stores or online. You can also make it at home and customize it to your taste.
SUMMARY: Oat milk is made by soaking, blending, and straining oats. It’s often enriched with nutrients and naturally free of many allergens or irritants.
Packed With Nutrients
Oat milk is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber.
One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened, fortified oat milk by Oatly contains approximately:
- Calories: 120
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 5 grams
- Carbs: 16 grams
- Dietary fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin B12: 50% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Riboflavin: 46% of the DV
- Calcium: 27% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 22% of the DV
- Vitamin D: 18% of the DV
- Vitamin A: 18% of the DV
- Potassium: 6% of the DV
- Iron: 2% of the DV
Because oat milk is made from strained oats, it’s missing a lot of the nutrients that you would normally get from eating a bowl of oats. For this reason, it’s often enriched with nutrients.
Most commercial oat milk is fortified with vitamins A, D, B2, and B12, as well as various minerals like calcium.
Compared to other types of milk, oat milk generally has more calories, carbs, and fiber than almond, soy, or cow’s milk while providing less protein than soy and dairy varieties.
It’s also worth noting that although oat and almond milk are both enriched with nutrients, oat milk tends to contain more added B vitamins, while almond milk tends to have more vitamin E.
SUMMARY: Oat milk — especially when fortified — is a rich source of nutrients. It has more calories, carbs, and fiber than almond, soy, and cow’s milk but less protein than soy and dairy milk.
Studies on oats and oat milk show that they may offer several health benefits.
1. Vegan, as Well as Lactose-, Soy-, and Nut-Free
Oat milk is a sensible option for those with dietary restrictions.
Since it’s made from just oats and water, it’s vegan and free of nuts, soy, and lactose.
Though oats are also naturally gluten-free, they can be processed in the same factories as gluten-containing grains, which may contaminate the oats.
Still, some commercial oat milk brands are made with certified gluten-free oats. Always check the label to make sure your chosen product is gluten-free.
Alternatively, you can make homemade oat milk with certified gluten-free oats.
2. Great Source of B Vitamins
Oat milk is often fortified with B vitamins, such as riboflavin (B2) and vitamin B12.
B vitamins are essential for optimal health and linked to numerous benefits.
For instance, they may help elevate your mood, combat oxidative stress, and promote healthy hair, nails, and skin — especially if you’re already deficient in these vitamins.
3. May Lower Blood Cholesterol
Oat milk is high in beta-glucans — a soluble fiber with heart health benefits.
Beta-glucans form a gel-like substance inside your gut, which can bind to cholesterol and reduce its absorption. This may help lower blood cholesterol levels — especially “bad” LDL cholesterol, which has been linked to heart disease.
One study in men found that drinking about 3 cups (750 ml) of oat milk daily over 5 weeks reduced total blood cholesterol by 3% and “bad” LDL by 5%.
Another study observed that, on average, consuming 3 grams of oat beta-glucans daily lowered “bad” LDL blood cholesterol by 5–7%.
Interestingly, 1 cup (240 ml) of oat milk may provide up to 1.3 grams of beta-glucans.
4. Great for Bone Health
Oat milk is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D — which can benefit your bones.
Calcium is essential for strong and healthy bones because it’s the main mineral used to form them. A lack of calcium in your diet may cause your bones to become hollow and more likely to fracture or break.
Adequate vitamin D is just as important, as it aids the absorption of calcium from your digestive tract. A lack of vitamin D can stop your body from getting sufficient calcium, which may cause your bones to weaken, increasing your risk of fractures.
Commercial oat milk is also a good source of vitamin B12, which has been linked to healthy bones and a lower risk of osteoporosis (hollow and porous bones).
SUMMARY: Oat milk is low in allergens and irritants. Particularly fortified products are a great source of B vitamins, may lower blood cholesterol, and provide nutrients that support bone health.
While oat milk has several possible health benefits, it comes with some downsides.
For one, certain varieties of commercial oat milk may be high in sugar — especially if they’re sweetened or flavored. That’s why it’s best to purchase unsweetened options.
Plus, most commercial oat milk is not certified gluten-free — though there are exceptions. Gluten-contaminated products may cause digestive problems for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
If you have problems digesting gluten, it’s best to purchase oat milk labeled as certified gluten-free. You can also make it yourself using 100% gluten-free oats.
Keep in mind that homemade oat milk is not as nutritious as commercial alternatives, as the latter are often enriched with nutrients.
Oat milk is generally safe for babies and children but not a suitable replacement for breast or cow’s milk, as it lacks nutrients essential for optimal growth. It’s best to speak with your child’s pediatrician before serving a milk alternative.
Another potential downside of oat milk is that it’s generally more expensive than cow’s milk. If you’re on a budget and would like to try oat milk, it’s best to make it at home.
SUMMARY: Make sure to choose unsweetened oat milk, as some varieties may be high in added sugars. Also, if you have a gluten intolerance, be sure to buy oat milk that’s labeled gluten-free or make it at home using certified gluten-free oats.
How to Make Your Own
Oat milk is incredibly easy to make at home.
What’s more, making your own allows you to choose the ingredients and avoid additives or thickeners that may be found in commercial products.
You can also make it guaranteed gluten-free by using certified gluten-free oats.
Yet, a homemade variety may not provide as many nutrients as store-bought fortified options.
To make oat milk, blend one cup (81 grams) of rolled or steel-cut oats with three cups (710 ml) of water. Pour the mixture over cheesecloth to separate the oat milk from the oats.
Once prepared, store it in a glass bottle in your refrigerator for up to five days.
To enhance flavor, try adding either a 1/4 teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of vanilla or cinnamon extract, a few dates, maple syrup, or honey.
SUMMARY: You can make your own oat milk by blending one cup (81 grams) of oats with three cups (710 ml) of water and pouring the mixture over cheesecloth into a bottle or jar.
The Bottom Line
Oat milk is a plant-based milk alternative that’s vegan and naturally dairy-, lactose-, soy- and nut-free.
It’s even suitable for people with gluten intolerance if made from certified gluten-free oats.
Commercial products are often fortified with vitamins and minerals that may offer benefits for your heart and bones.
To enjoy its flavor and advantages to health, find a healthy, unsweetened variety in stores or make your own at home.
Title: Oat Milk: Nutrition, Benefits, and How to Make It