The 20th century sure is seeing many new and wonderful trends when it comes to the food industry. People are becoming more health-conscious as they face certain health challenges, and progressive consumers today are becoming the window on the future of health and wellness.
Consumers are more inclined today to make significant changes to their lifestyles – they are focusing more on sustainable diets to fight the huge digestion and inflammation problems of unhealthy eating habits.
You might not have heard of oat milk before, a new health trend, and a prevalent one, particularly in the coffee industry. OK, you might know of other non-dairy milk products such as almond milk and rice milk, but maybe not so much about oat milk – yet.
To put it simply, it’s a cow’s milk alternative. Still, you will see it appearing more frequently on your supermarket shelves as it takes off. It is a highly attractive product simply because it has such a delicious flavor. But apart from that, it also comes with an imposing nutrient profile.
Let’s look at how oat milk came about; what it is really all about
More and more people are starting to add oat milk to their daily routine, and that includes their morning “Cup O’ Joe.” Oat milk is considered to be more environmentally friendly, which is a huge factor for millions of people all over the world.
So then, how did Oatly, which is the brand name of the current oat-milk market leader, get started? Oatly is actually a Swedish company, founded over 25 years ago so that delicious plant-based milk could be produced.
Much academic research went into finding an excellent product that would be an alternative to dairy but be environmentally friendly and nutritious.
Oats were found to be a solid choice because of their nutrient profile and accessibility. Oats are a very sustainable plant-source; oats thrive in cold-weather climates. They need little water or other resources to grow to maturity.
Oatly was launched in the USA early in 2017. Now all Oatly’s products are made in North America. What you get are delicious gluten-free, non-GMO oats. It consists of no soy, no nuts, and no dairy.
Oatly believes their oat milk has been perfectly timed in America to see what Europe has been enjoying for over 25 years. And they were right – 2018 saw widespread stocking issues across the US as supermarkets and Oatly themselves couldn’t keep up with mounting demand.
Since consumers are much more informed and adamant about making smarter choices about what goes into their mouths, their expectations are very high. Food is expected to look good, taste good, not stress the environment, and be good for you! Lucky for Oatly, (and us) oat milk makes the grade!
But why is it so unique?
What makes Oatly different from other milk brands?
To begin with, it is all about oats, only. Lots of other brands will dabble in other ingredients, but not Oatly. They focus entirely on oats.
Not only that, but they also aim to be environmentally sustainable. Oatly is highly committed to making their oat milk with a very minimal environmental impact so that natural resources are preserved.
Oats are gluten-free but can get cross-contaminated when they are handled with other grains, but Oatly is completely gluten-free. Since, unlike other brands, they only make oat-milk.
It is a vegan alternative to cow’s milk: It is made just by blending a cup of soaked old-fashioned oats that you might be enjoying every day for your breakfast – you just put the soaked oats in a blender. Then add around 3 cups of water.
After blending, take some cheesecloth and pour the oat milk liquid through that to extract the milk. If you like, you can also add cinnamon, or vanilla, or other natural sweeteners to enhance the flavor of your oat milk.
If you don’t want to make your own oat milk, you can get it pre-made at a lot of regular grocery stores and of course, health food shops a well.
Sometimes some manufacturers have added extra vitamins and minerals into their oat milk to make a product that is very rich in the same micronutrients that are found in real cow’s milk. In your store-bought container of oat milk, you might find extra vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin D, and calcium.
Some other commercial varieties might have other ingredients to extend their shelf life and enhance their flavor. That’s why if you make your own homemade oat milk, you might find that it tastes a bit different from the manufactured ones.
Oat Milk Nutrition Facts
Let’s check out all the approximate nutrients, etc. that you can expect to find in just one cup of oat milk, which consists of around 130 calories:
- 24 Grams carbohydrates
- 4 Grams of protein
- 2.5 Grams of fat
- 2 Grams of dietary fiber
- 350 Milligrams calcium
- 0.5 Milligram riboflavin
- 100 International units vitamin D
- 500 International units vitamin A
- 1.8 Milligrams iron
- 115 Milligrams sodium
Benefits Of Oat Milk
That looks healthy, which means there must be health benefits, right?Sure there are – look at them:
It is lactose-free as well as being vegan.
Oat milk is just a great alternative, whether you are trying to avoid the intake of animal products or you want something that agrees more with your stomach.
You will love oat milk because it’s such an excellent alternative, made only from oats and water, making it free of lactose/dairy and gluten. It’s a great substitute for those with dietary restrictions and for those who want to be dairy-free.
Anemia is no laughing matter. It is characterized by a lack of red blood cells in the body which causes fatigue and pale unhealthy skin.
Enjoying just one cup of oat milk will deliver about 10% of iron. This makes it great for vegetarians and vegans. Adding oat milk in your diet, you promote healthy red blood cells, assisting in the prevention of anemia.
Your bones become strong.
Sometimes commercial oat milk has been enriched with vitamin D and calcium. These are two important micronutrients that play an essential role in bone health.
Did you know that around 99% of the calcium in your body is in your bones?
According to a study from the University of Cologne’s West-German Osteoporosis Center in Germany, if you have low levels of calcium and vitamin D, this could result in the further breakdown of your bone cells and bone weakness which causes bone fractures.
Supports your immune system
Should you feel under the weather, reach for oat milk. Your immune system gets a strong boost from the vitamins D and A found in oat-milk, warding off infections and illnesses.
We all know that oats are a healthy breakfast to enjoy if you are looking after your heart and also want to keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Oats contain a soluble fiber in it called beta-glucan, known for having potent properties to help lower your cholesterol.
Research has also found that this same beta-glucan is retained in beverages made from oats, such as oat milk. In the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, it is noted that when you drink oat milk for five weeks, you will lower your bad LDL cholesterol more than you would if you drank rice milk.
Try oat milk in your smoothies.
The enzyme lactase is in charge of the breakdown of lactose, which is the sugar found in milk and other dairy products. In cases where there is a shortage due to a deficiency of this enzyme, lactose is broken down in the bowel, causing unwanted symptoms like bloating, diarrhea,nausea, and cramps.
Modern consumers are opting for popular non-dairy alternatives in part because cow’s milk today is full of growth hormones and antibiotics, creating illness and disease.
It’s no wonder people are demanding environmentally friendly products for themselves and their children, and that includes the new kid on the block, oat milk.
Disadvantages of Oat Milk
OK, there are a couple of disadvantages.Some commercial varieties just have too many additives, sugars, and preservatives in them, which diminish the health-promoting properties.
Sometimes, too, oat milk can also contain emulsifiers and thickeners in them that can impact on digestive health, altering the gut microbiome as well.
Even though oats are a naturally gluten-free product, sometimes during the manufacturing process, other gluten-containing grains like wheat or barley get in, which results in cross-contamination. It is important to seek certified organic and gluten-free oat milk for that reason.
Oat milk is not as naturally nutrient-dense as conventional dairy is. The improved varieties do have a whole heap of vitamins and minerals in them. Still, they are not as nutrient-dense as real organic milk, and if you make your own at home, you might need to get these extra nutrients from other sources.
You are probably asking, “Does oat milk actually measure up to conventional milk and even almond milk?”
Oat Milk Vs. Almond Milk
As far as taste and texture goes, oat milk has a pleasant sweet taste, almost like almond milk, but it is thin, like skim milk. It is offered in different flavors on the grocery shelves, like coffee flavor or chocolate. Additionally, you can get the unsweetened and unflavored varieties.
Oat milk is higher in calories and carbs than almond milk.
It also contains more fiber and protein than almond milk. Almond milk is also often fortified and enriched with micronutrients like calcium and vitamin D.
But still, there is a bit of a difference in that almond milk also has vitamin E in it. However, oat milk has more riboflavin in it.
Oat Milk and Organic Cow’s Milk
While a lot of micronutrients in oat milk have been added in during processing, with conventional milk you get natural sources of nutrients like riboflavin, calcium, and vitamin B12.
Oat milk is lower in calories than cow’s milk and contains nearly double as many carbs.Cow’s milk is higher in protein than oat milk.
While both almond milk and conventional milk are also able to be warmed up using moderate heat, oat milk can’t really.
It becomes thick and viscous when heated, and therefore, might not be the best choice to use in place of milk for recipes that require heat, such as baked goods or hot beverages.
Ayurveda And Oat Milk
If Ayurveda practices and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) use oat milk, it must be good!
Yes, oats already fit into the Ayurveda diet and are commonly used in TCM, as well. In traditional Chinese medicine, oats help lower blood pressure, improves stool consistency, and reduces boils.
Oats are noted to strengthen the spleen and the pancreas. Oats, in Ayurveda, helps to reduce the appetite and to promote regular stools and increase stamina. Oats also have calming properties.
There are plenty of potential uses for oat milk. You can swap it for conventional milk in your cereal or use it to whip up certain types of desserts that don’t require heat, like pudding or ice cream.
You can also use it in your favorite beverages and add it to your morning smoothie, latte, tea, or coffee. Just be sure to avoid directly heating this milk as it can thicken and develop a gelatinous texture.
Oat Milk Green Smoothie
This delicious healthy drink smoothie is made with only six ingredients. What you get in this 1½ cup of oat milk is 6 g of protein. That’s already 75% of your daily recommended intake of B12 plus 45% of your daily recommended intake of calcium. You will love it!
- 1½ cup of oat milk
- 1½ frozen bananas
- 3 Handfuls of organic spinach
- A 2″ piece of fresh ginger
- 1½ teaspoons of nut butter (of your choice)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 Ice cubes (optional – that’s if you like it extra cold)
Add some garnish using granola with some smooth nut butter over if you like
Add all the above ingredients to your blender. Puree until everything is smooth. If you want a bit of sweetness, add a couple of dates.
The milk trend is global, and oat milk is selling out – there is not enough!
What with the introduction of oat, pecan, hemp, quinoa, hazelnut, and flax milk – all these are steering the global alternative to milk industry to great heights and huge sales of $10.9 billion expected for 2019 – this according to the Global Market for Milk Alternatives.
More and more exotic non-dairy milk is growing in popularity. Just one, in fact, a highly nutritious one, has dropped off in sales, and people are drinking less soy milk – simply because of disproven and outdated claims about soy and specific health conditions.
Oatly even sold out of its Oat milk Barista Edition and had to stock up, announcing to their customers that only one case per customer would be sold due to overwhelming demand.
When people do have an excess of oat milk, they sell it at marked-up prices. One Amazon seller hawked a 12 pack for $226!
It might sound strange to some the concept of milking oats. But oats actually yields a lovely, sweet, and highly popular dairy alternative that Americans are lapping up, so to speak.
Some claim oat milk sales have surpassed hemp, coconuts, macadamia, nut, and pea milk. It makes sense though, seeing there is a considerable increase in the number of vegans and health-conscious people who are totally averse to drinking cow’s milk today.
The trend has become global. With the introduction of not only oat milk but others mentioned above, these trendy kinds of milk are steering the global alternative milk industry towards expected sales of $10.9 billion this year, according to the Global Market for Milk Alternatives.
Oat milk has been around for some time now and will be around for some time to come.