What’s The Buzz On Oat Milk?
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an oat milk revolution going on, and its quickly gaining momentum. But does this alt-milk deserve a healthy halo?
Sales of dairy-free milks have been booming over the past few years with oat milk being one of the latest to skyrocket in popularity (read more about nut milks here). You’ve likely noticed frothy oat milk lattes popping up in coffee shops or have spotted new brands on supermarket shelves (and if you haven’t, you likely will this year). With so many options, it can be confusing to know how oat milk stacks up against conventional or other plant-based milks. We’re breaking down some fast facts to consider before you reach for liquid oats.
It’s a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike, but is oat milk gluten-free?
Oats are naturally gluten-free. However, many oats are processed on the same equipment in plants as other gluten-containing grains, with the potential for cross-contamination. Not ideal for someone who suffers from celiac disease or is highly sensitive to gluten. Making your own milk at home gives you more control. In this case, shop for organic, gluten-free labeled oats and you’ll be free of cross-contamination worries.
What are the benefits of oat milk?
The oat-obsessed can enjoy several benefits of the beverage, including:
· It’s vegan and allergy-friendly: For those with dairy, soy, or nut allergies, oat milk is a safe alternative. As mentioned, for those with gluten sensitivities, it’s best to search out reputable brands that list organic and gluten-free on the label.
· Low cost: Oats are inexpensive in comparison to other alternative milks such as almond or cashew, making it an affordable DIY option.
· Sustainability: When compared with conventional milk (hello, methane emissions) and almond milk (high water usage), oats win the sustainability-cred. More consumers are choosing eco-friendly products, giving oat milk an edge over some of its competitors.
· Quick and easy: With no soaking required and just three ingredients needed at a minimum (oats, water, salt), oat milk can be blended up and ready to use within minutes.
· Heart healthy/cholesterol-lowering potential: oats contain a specific soluble fiber that has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Even with straining, this benefit extends to the milk beverage.
What’s not so great about oat milk?
There are a few downsides to consider about this alt-milk, including:
· Overall nutrition profile – From a macronutrient standpoint, oat milk is low in fat, contains some protein (less than cow’s milk but more than some nut milks), and is higher in carbs than other milk. While it does contain some additional nutrients (such as iron) commercial products are fortified with added vitamins and minerals to rival the nutrients naturally found in dairy milk. For this reason, at-home versions will contain less micronutrients than enriched commercial brands. Overall, oat milk has its benefits (mainly fiber) but is not as well balanced as cow’s milk or some other dairy-free varieties.
· Pesticides – Like many grains, oats are often treated with pesticides, and the residue can remain on the packaged product. Another reason to do some research before purchasing oats or oat milk.
· Canola oil – Manufacturers often use canola oil to improve the texture and creaminess of oat milk. Why is this worth noting? Canola is often a genetically modified crop and high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can be inflammatory if consumed in large amounts (found in many processed foods).
· Consistency: With a thin (yet creamy) consistency, oat milk may not work as well as a substitute in certain baked goods or when preparing items at high heat.
What should I look for when buying oat milk?
As with any plant-based milk, you’ll want to search for clean ingredients—think less is more. Many products contain preservatives, additives and lots of sugar. Stabilizers and thickeners are also added to increase shelf life and improve consistency. As with any non-dairy milk, avoid products containing carrageenan, an emulsifier that’s considered a potential carcinogen. Look for organic, non-GMO varieties at the supermarket.
Bottom Line: At Ascend, we encourage consuming a wide variety of foods to increase the spectrum of nutrients in the diet, and lessen repeated exposure to the same pesticides or chemicals. If you enjoy the flavor of oat milk, drink up. It may not be the most nutrient-dense option out there, but oat milk can certainly be a great addition to enhance your coffee or smoothie. Just be mindful to check the ingredient list, opt for organic, and ensure you’re eating a well-rounded diet to get your overall nutrient fix.
How To Make Oat Milk At Home
3 cups water
1 cup rolled or old-fashioned oats
pinch of salt
½ - 1 tsp vanilla extract – optional
1 Medjool date or 1 Tbsp of sweetener of choice (such as maple syrup) – optional
1. Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth.
2. Strain liquid over a bowl using a nut bag, cheesecloth or very thin towel to remove the oat “pulp.”
3. Store oat milk liquid in an airtight container the refrigerator and enjoy within 7 days.