Oat milk is becoming a popular dairy substitute and you might have seen it popping up in more and more coffee shops and stores. Made from oats and water it can easily be made at home or bought in a grocery store. It tends to be richer and creamier than other non-dairy choices which makes it good for foamy drinks and lattes but it can be consumed on its own or simply added to coffee or tea.
Compared to other non-dairy milks such as almond or rice, oat milk has more fibre and protein. It is higher in calories and carbs so if you are looking for a low-calorie option almond milk might be a better choice. Compared to cow’s milk, oat milk has only half the protein. Like all non-dairy substitutes, these proteins are incomplete proteins, which means, unlike dairy milk, it lacks some essential amino acids that your body needs.
Like many other commercially available plant based milks, oat milk has added vitamin D and calcium to promote bone health. Riboflavin and vitamin A are also added to many brands. Other nutrients missing in plant-based milks that are found in cow’s milk include potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, and niacin. Iron is the only nutrient found naturally in oat milk. Keep in mind that if you make your own oat milk, you will not have the benefit of the added nutrients.
Some store bought oat milk contains added sugar. To avoid this always go for the unsweetened and unflavoured choices. Some brands may also have oils, stabilizers, or gums. Best to read the label of all the products you buy.
If you have allergies or are sensitive to dairy, soy, or nuts then oat milk might be perfect for you. However, if you have celiac disease or need to avoid gluten you are best to check the label as some oats are processed in factories that also process grains containing gluten.
Many people choose a plant based diet due to concerns for the environment and to minimize their carbon footprint. Some people have concerns about genetically modified soybeans in soymilk, or are concerned about pesticides and water used to grow almonds. Research has shown that growing oats has less of an environmental impact than both almonds and soy.
To make your own oat milk, mix one part old-fashioned oats (not instant) to two parts water. Let it sit overnight, then blend the mixture thoroughly or strain it using cheesecloth. Add some vanilla or maple syrup to taste if you like.