The conversation around milk used to be about one thing: cow’s milk. But now, with so many new varieties of milk — almond, soy, cashew — it can be hard to keep track of how these new milks are made and whether they’re really good for you. Oat milk is one of the trendiest new milks on the market. But how exactly do you get from oats to milk, and is the drink a good alternative to cow’s milk or other non-dairy milks? Lisa DeFazio, MS, RD, and Andy Bellatti, MS, RD, spoke to Woman’s Day about what you can expect from the drink.
What exactly is oat milk?
Oat milk is the liquid left behind when steel-cut oats are soaked in water, blended, and strained through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, DeFazio says. The process of making oat milk is similar to that of almond or cashew milk, but oats tend to produce a milk that’s creamier than its nut milk competitors. It’s relatively easy to make oat milk at home, or you can buy it from brands like Oatly. An 8-ounce serving of Oatly has 120 calories, 3 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat. For comparison, an 8-ounce serving of whole cow’s milk has about 150 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fat.
Is oat milk healthy?
DeFazio says that generally speaking oat milk is healthy. “It contains soluble fiber, which slows digestion, keeps you full longer, reduces cholesterol and can stabilize blood sugars,” she says. It also contains no cholesterol or saturated fat.
Bellatti also considers the drink healthy with one caveat: that it is unsweetened. “To me, a healthy beverage is one that provides nutrients and has no added sugar, or very little,” Bellatti says.
How does oat milk compare to other non-dairy milks?
“Compared to cow’s milk and soy milk it has less protein,” DeFazio says. “But compared to almond, cashew, coconut, and rice milk, it has more protein.” Oat milk is also higher in carbs than most plant based milks like unsweetened almond milk, according to DeFazio. Bellatti adds that oat milk is lower in fat than other non-dairy milks and much lower in saturated fat than coconut milk.
Would the dietitians recommend oat milk instead of cow’s milk?
Both DeFazio and Bellatti recommend oat milk as a dairy alternative. They both pointed out that it’s a great non-dairy alternative for people who have nut or soy allergies. Bellatti says it’s also a strong choice for people who are looking for a milk that’s low in saturated fat. DeFazio added that trying oat milk, and venturing away from dairy products in general, can be helpful for people struggling with gas and bloating, which might be symptoms of dairy intolerance.