To be frank, when oat milk first hit supermarket shelves a few years ago, joining soy, rice, and almond milk, it appeared to just be a fad — but now it’s proven it’s not going anywhere. Each year, more and more oat milk brands emerge.
For good reason – oat milk has shown to be very versatile. Some companies, such as Oatly, make a oat milk for baristas that is creamier with a higher fat content. Those who love baking also choose to use oat milk instead of dairy milk since it has a more neutral flavor.
If you’re considering switching to oat milk, you should first read up on the potential health benefits and drawbacks.
Health Benefits Of Oat Milk
Oat milk is a rich source of essential nutrients needed by our body. These include:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that adults should consume around 50 grams of protein per day.
Protein is the “workhorse” of the body and plays a vital role in many bodily functions, including:
- Growth and maintenance
- Causes biochemical reactions
- Acts as a messenger
- Provides structure
- Maintains proper pH
- Balances fluids
- Bolsters immune health
- Transports and stores nutrients
- Provides energy
Collectively, these functions make protein one of the most important nutrients needed by your body.
Fiber is necessary to move food and waste through the digestive system, keeping the gut healthy and helping avoid constipation. It can also help control LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, can increase the risk of having heart disease and heart attack.
The recommended dietary calcium intake for adults is between 1000 mg and 1300 mg every day. One cup of oat milk provides 350 mg of calcium, which means that you need three to four cups for that daily amount.
Calcium plays a role in:
- Blood clotting
- Enzyme function
- Regulating heart function
- Regulating muscle function, such as contraction and relaxation
- Strengthening bones and teeth
- Transmission of nervous system messages
Calcium deficiency may lead to disorders such as osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weak and brittle.
The body needs phosphorus to produce energy and carry out chemical processes.
One cup of oat milk has around 20% of an adult’s daily value (DV) of phosphorus.
Riboflavin, also known as Vitamin B2, is an essential vitamin for the cells to help them grow, develop, and function. In addition, it also helps your body turn food into energy.
One cup of oat milk has around 45% of an adult’s daily value (DV) of riboflavin.
Oat milk can also provide reasonable amounts of Vitamin B12 – this nutrient is essential for our body because it helps to:
- Keep the nerves healthy
- Keep the blood cells healthy
- Create DNA
It also helps prevent megaloblastic anemia, a type of anemia that makes people feel weak and tired.
Some of these nutrients are found naturally in oat milk, while the manufacturers add others. It’s always good to read a product’s label to know the exact nutritional information.
If you liked this post, you might also like our round-up of the best coffees for oat milk.
How Does Oat Milk Compare With Dairy Milk?
Oat milk and cow’s milk have different nutritional profiles – oat milk naturally does not have as many nutrients as dairy milk. Most of its nutrients are fortified.
Dairy milk offers the following nutrients in each eight-ounce glass:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Pantothenic acid
On the other hand, a glass of oat milk has only five essential nutrients in an eight-ounce glass:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
Not including iron, all the other nutrients found in oat milk are fortified. Although dairy milk is also fortified with Vitamins A and D. The remaining the nutrients are naturally occurring.
Is Oat Milk Healthier Than Cow’s Milk?
The oat milk you can pick up at your local grocery store usually has similar vitamins and minerals as regular cow’s milk. Some manufacturers also add calcium, Vitamin B12, and riboflavin to oat milk to provide some of the nutrients naturally found in regular cow’s milk.
Oat milk and cow’s milk also have similar calories in a one-cup serving. However, oat milk contains more carbohydrates, fiber, and does not have as much protein. The extra protein in a regular cow’s milk can keep you full longer, as it prolongs digestion and absorption in your Gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
It’s vital to check a product’s label before purchasing as branding can make terms like “diary-free,” “vegan,” or “lactose-free,” products look healthier than they are. Even an oat milk labeled “Plain” or “Original” can sometimes include added sugar.
What Are the drawbacks Of oat milk?
People intolerant to gluten or with celiac disease should not always assume every oat milk brand is gluten-free. It’s not uncommon for oats to be processed on equipment that previously handled gluten-products. You have to search for a “Certified Gluten-Free” symbol on the packaging to make sure that the product is definitely gluten-free.
Aside from that, finding an oat milk alternative without added sugar may be difficult, and the drink can be pretty costly – but generally, there aren’t any significant downsides to drinking this beverage.
You might also enjoy our barley milk iced coffee recipe.
What Are The Healthiest Oat Milk Brands?
Upon analyzing different supermarket oat milk options, we can say that Innocent Dairy Free Oat Drink is the healthiest brand. It contains less calories, fats, and sugar compared to it’s competitors. It also has a comparable protein volume, not to mention that it only has three simple ingredients – water, oats, and a pinch of sea salt.
Another healthy oat milk brand is the Alpro Oat Original because it has more added fiber compared to other brands. Elmhurst oat milk is also a good option, despite its high-calorie content – it contains more protein and fiber. If you are looking for the healthiest oat milk brand available in your local supermarket, consider one that is fortified.
You can also read our guide on How To Make An Iced Matcha Latte With Oat Milk: 4 Easy Steps.