Know the real benefits of oat milk for your health

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Plant-based milks are a popular alternative to animal-derived milk, driven by growing awareness of the environmental impacts and animal welfare of dairy farming. A popular alternative is oat milk.

In 2022, annual sales increased by just over 50% to reach US$527.44 million. So how does this alternative to animal milk compare to the others?

What is oat milk?

Whether homemade or store-bought, oat milk is simply milk made from oats. For commercial products, the manufacturing process involves combining rolled oats with water, hydrolyzing the mixture to break down the starch content of the oats, and filtering to produce the milk. The process of making oat milk at home also involves mixing the oats with water and then straining the mixture twice to obtain the milk.

Oat milk is free of animal ingredients and also contains no lactose. If you’re interested in plant-based milks for nutritional or ethical reasons, oat milk can be a great alternative to cow’s milk.

How to make oat milk

Oat milk is made from oats and water. Store-bought oat milk will likely also contain added vitamins and minerals.

The first step is to blend the oats and water with a high-speed blender or food processor. Different recipes suggest different time periods. Some recommend only churning for 30 to 45 seconds to prevent the milk from becoming slimy, while others suggest churning for 2 to 4 minutes. If you’re going to add any flavoring, like sea salt or vanilla extract, this is where you should do it. You can experiment to find out your personal preference.

The next step is to strain the mixture, and there are a few different ways to do this.

One way is to use a nut milk bag. They are specifically designed for making milk at home, although they may miss too much pulp for some consumers. Another option is a fine mesh sieve, but you can also let some of the pulp through. Some recommend straining through a thin towel, as this results in a milk mixture with much less starch and a less viscous texture.

Most recipes recommend straining the oat milk twice. This helps to avoid excess starch in the milk, which can result in a slimy rather than creamy texture. This is particularly important if you used a looser sieve. Once you’ve done this, you don’t need the pulp anymore, but to reduce waste, take a look at some recipes that use oat pulp.

When your oat milk is ready, pour it into an airtight container and keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to use it. Your milk can be stored this way for a few days.

How long does oat milk last?

The general consensus is that homemade oat milk can last about 4 to 5 days, while store-bought oat milk can last anywhere from a week to ten days. If you leave the milk longer than that, you may notice a slight change in color, it may become thick or lumpy, or it may start to smell sour. These are signs that your milk has started to spoil.

How to use oat milk

Oat milk can be used in the same way as animal milk. You can drink it neat, use it in baking or pour it over cereal, for example. Oat milk is also one of the most popular options to use in teas and coffees, due to its thick and creamy texture.

oat milk nutrition

Nutritionally, oat milk is a very healthy alternative to traditional whole milk. It contains less saturated fat and more fiber.

The specific nutritional profile of oat milk varies depending on whether it was home-made or store-bought. Commercial brands of oat milk also vary in the additives they include. Keep in mind, too, that nutritional needs will vary depending on what you’ll be using the milk for—pancakes versus direct consumption, for example.

In terms of calorie counts, 100 grams of unsweetened oat milk contains about 48 calories, which is similar to low-fat cow’s milk, which has about 43 calories per 100 grams. The caloric content of oat milk is mainly due to its high carbohydrate content, but choosing a brand without additional ingredients to sweeten the milk can help keep this to a minimum.

Oat milk also has less saturated fat than whole milk. Specific values ​​vary between brands, but a cup of Califia Farms brand oat milk, for example, contains 0.5 grams of saturated fat, while a cup of whole milk would contain about 4.6 grams.

Oat milk also has less protein than cow’s milk, although amounts vary depending on brand and recipe. Many oat milks have about 3 grams of protein per cup, while cow’s milk can have about twice that amount. However, it’s important to keep in mind that most Americans consume twice the recommended amount of protein.

On the other hand, oat milk has more fiber than whole milk. One cup of Califia Farms oat milk contains 2 grams of fiber, while whole milk contains no fiber. Fiber is usually associated with digestion, but it has many other health benefits. The fiber found in oats is soluble, which has been linked to slowing digestion, helping to control blood glucose levels, lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of developing heart disease.

Is oat milk gluten free?

Although oats do not contain gluten like a grain, the process used in growing and producing oats means that most are contaminated with gluten. Unfortunately, this means that most oat milks cannot be considered gluten-free.

Is oat milk better than cow’s milk?

Oat milk has many nutritional advantages over traditional milk, including lower sugar content, lower saturated fat content and higher fiber content. Fortified unsweetened soy milk is most similar in protein content to cow’s milk.

Is oat milk healthier than almond milk?

The nutrient profiles of oat milk and almond milk depend on the brands of each you’re comparing, but there are some key differences between the two. One is the sugar content. While almond milk contains no natural sugars, one cup of oat milk contains about 19 grams of sugar. Almond milk also contains fewer calories than oat milk, fewer carbohydrates and a lower total fat content. However, where oat milk is healthier than almond milk is in its higher fiber and higher protein content.

oat milk is vegan

As the production of oat milk does not involve animals, it can be considered vegan. Like most other plant-based milks, oat milk is a popular choice for consumers looking to cut back on animal products.

Naturally free of lactose, soy and nuts, oat milk can be a great alternative for people with intolerances or allergies who are unable to consume other types of plant-based milk. However, it is important to be aware that the manufacturing methods used to produce oat milk and products containing it may involve cross-contamination with one of these allergens.

Complex B vitamins

Many store-bought oat milks are fortified with B vitamins, especially vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential in the human diet and is found in meat and dairy products. For those following a vegan diet, it is recommended that they take a vitamin B12 supplement as it is difficult to get enough from fortified foods alone.

It helps control cholesterol

Oat milk can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels due to the beta glucans in oats. Beta glucans are thought to help lower cholesterol levels by preventing the reabsorption of bile acids in the small intestine, which means bile acids need to be synthesized from cholesterol, lowering LDL cholesterol levels.

bone health

Sufficient levels of calcium in the body are essential for bone health, as it is the main component of bones and necessary to maintain their strength and structure. However, to properly absorb calcium, we also need sufficient levels of vitamin D. Most store milks are fortified with calcium and vitamin D to ensure that plant-based consumers are not missing out on these essential nutrients.

Are there dangers in consuming oat milk?

Unless you have an allergy or intolerance to oats, the only danger to consuming oat milk would be to assume it contains a specific nutrient you might be getting from cow’s milk. Vitamin B12 is an example of this nutrient, and although most oat milk products are fortified with it, it is currently recommended that people following a plant-based or vegan diet take a B12 supplement to ensure they are getting enough. .

Source: Sentient Media / Authorized publication

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