The Fiber in Oat Milk May Make It the Milk Alternative For You5 years ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Very recently, coffee mega-franchise Starbucks added oat milk to its menu at some of their various locations throughout the country. You can find the locations that are serving up this milk alternative, here. And apparently, Starbucks has been offering oat milk in its European locations as of January 2018.
As you probably guessed, oat milk is a plant-based milk alternative made from oats. More specifically, it is made from steel-cut oats or whole groats that are soaked in water, blended and then strained with a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. It actually doesn’t seem difficult at all to make your own oat milk at home. (You can check out a recipe, here).
One of the things that seems to set oat milk apart from other milk alternatives we have discussed (almond milk, soy milk and hemp milk), is the taste and texture.
“Oatmilk has gained popularity as a non-dairy milk alternative, offering a smooth and neutral flavor which complements both light- and dark-roast coffees,” Starbucks says on their website.
“When steamed, the milk creates a creamy and velvety texture, perfect for the classic latte and cappuccino espresso beverages.”
Some people claim that milk alternatives just don’t have that creamy, rich texture that cow’s milk does. But oat milk, due to its fat and carbohydrate content, may be a good contender to actually stand on the same podium, as far as taste goes, with cow’s milk.
"It just tastes better! You can definitely taste the almond milk in a drink, and that's sometimes overpowering. Oat milk is more neutral,” according to one barista.
“When you sip on unsweetened oat milk, you might notice that it tastes a little sweeter than other unsweetened dairy alternative milks,” according to another source.
Oats are rich in carbohydrates due to their starch content. However, some brands of oat milk “convert some of the starch to sugar via an enzymatic process." This makes the milk taste creamier and sweeter. So if you plan on buying oat milk, find a brand that does not contain much added sugar.
Of course, you can always make your own oat milk and slightly sweeten it with natural ingredients such as honey or dates.
Still the question that remains to be answered is whether oat milk is a good milk alternative.
Let’s look at some of the potential benefits, other than taste, of oat milk.
- Oat milk may be good for metabolic health.
Oat milk is low in saturated fat. Furthermore, “Unlike other non-dairy contenders, this beverage boasts soluble fiber — the kind that helps lower cholesterol,” according to this report.
Soluble fiber is a type of fiber which dissolves in water and swells like a sponge in the stomach, giving food a jellylike bulk. It combines with fat in the intestines and pulls it out of the body before it can enter the bloodstream. It is soluble fiber that may help lower blood cholesterol, slow the absorption of carbohydrates from foods and help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Cow’s milk has zero grams of fiber, and almond and soy milk only have one gram of fiber per serving. Oat milk has two grams of fiber per serving, which is not a huge difference when compared with almond and soy, however, the type of fiber in oat milk binds to cholesterol.
One study suggested that when men with moderately high cholesterol consumed oat milk for just five weeks, it helped lower their cholesterol.
The fiber in oat milk may also stabilize blood glucose levels, but remember to watch out for sugar content in store-bought brands.
- Oat milk may be good for digestion and the health of your colon.
Fiber helps relieve constipation, soothe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and may even help reduce the likelihood of death from colorectal cancer.
Furthermore, by reducing constipation and straining, “dietary fiber also helps prevent hemorrhoids and hernias,” reports Harvard Health.
- Oat milk may help with weight loss.
The carbs in oat milk provide lasting energy. It is the perfect beverage to include in a pre-workout smoothie to help you perform physically at your best.
And the fiber may also aid in weight loss.
“It's easy to see how fiber helps the gastrointestinal tract. Because humans cannot digest fiber, it is not absorbed into the body. But the fiber that stays in the intestinal tract slows the emptying of the stomach, producing a feeling of fullness that may help prevent overeating,” according to Harvard Health.
- Oat milk may help if you have certain allergies.
It can be very frustrating to have a nut, dairy or soy allergy. Some people may be allergic to all of these things. Oat milk may be a viable option for people with allergies. And you can use oat milk for baking and other types of cooking.
- Oat milk contains B vitamins.
We recently discussed all eight of the essential B vitamins and how important they are to our health. Oat milk contains the B vitamins thiamine and folate. Other essential nutrients present in oat milk include magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc and copper.
Downsides to oat milk?
If you have a gluten intolerance, it is imperative to make sure your oat milk is made from certified gluten-free oats. This can get tricky, because oats are gluten free but are often made in facilities or with equipment contaminated with gluten-containing grains. So if you have celiac disease or an extreme gluten intolerance, you may have a bad reaction to store-bought oat milks.
According to some sources, store-bought oat milks often contain rapeseed or canola oil, which may promote inflammation in the body. There are also concerns that oat milk may contain pesticides, which is why we have to be proactive by buying organic when possible and making our own homemade products when we can.
If you must buy store-bought oat milk, go for one that is both gluten-free and organic.
But if your goal is to get protein when you are drinking a milk alternative, oat milk may not be the one for you because it is pretty low in protein.
As always, speak with a competent healthcare professional about which milk alternative is best for you (especially if you have any existing health issues, are breastfeeding or pregnant).
And consult your pediatrician about milk alternatives for your infant or child. It’s important to know that we may be sensitive to certain foods, like soy, nuts or oats, without even knowing it. So an allergy and food sensitivity test is a great start to determine the best milk alternative option for you.
Have you tried oat milk? Do you like it? If not, what is your choice of milk alternative?
Enjoy your healthy life!
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