As soon as you start thinking that this time you’ve got the whole healthy eating thing down, some new food phenomenon is introduced that seems to threaten the stability of your tenuously held grasp on what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s better. You just get a handle on low fat diets, then keto comes out. You’re supposed to eat every couple hours for max fat burn, then intermittent fasting turns that belief on its head, proving that you can actually burn serious fat and build more muscle with short, sustainable periods of fasting.
It’s exhausting AF. We hear ya. But, don’t be discouraged: your well-being is always worth the occasional eye roll and exasperated sigh at yet another new (or new to you) alternative health food. And oat milk is no exception.
You likely know about nut milks by now (and if you don’t, we explain them, and if/when you should use them here), but oat milk is a comparatively less touted alt-milk.
So, to the question: should you add oat milk into your non-dairy rotation or skip this milk altogether?
Ode to Oat Milk
Spoiler! Oat milk is not made by actually milking oats. Rather, to make oat milk, you steep steel-cut oats or oat groats in water, then blend up your soggy oatmeal concoction before finally straining off the remaining oat pulp with a cheesecloth. Or if you’re a real Top Chef, you can buy special strainers for making non-dairy milks.
Oat milk is vegan, hypoallergenic and can be suitable for Celiac (always look for the Celiac stamp of approval when buying commercial), and is non-dairy.
We Recommend: Thrive Market Organic Oat, Unsweetened.
Wait, is dairy bad for you?
Depends who you ask and how much you consume. If you are lactose intolerant or drink too much dairy, which can actually result in leaching calcium from your bones, then yeah, it’s not the greatest. But, when consumed in moderation (~1 serving per day), dairy can be nutritious.
Back to oat milk…
Comparatively, oat milk is higher in carbs, calories and naturally occurring soluble fiber.
Now let’s break it down further and give you the skinny on oat milk. When you flip over your carton of oat milk, the nutritional report card per cup is: 120 calories, 16 grams of carbs, 3 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.
As with the rest of the non-dairy milk alternatives, these bevvies need to be fortified to beef up their nutritional scorecard. Commercial oat milks, along with the rest of the alt-milk gang, are enriched with minerals and vitamins such as A, D and certain B’s, like B2 and B12.
Oats are naturally rich in the readily absorbed beta-glucan soluble fiber (for heart health and reduces LDL cholesterol) and B vitamins; the same can be said about its milk counterpart. In fact, one glass of oat milk contains 1.3 grams of beta-glucans and studies have found that drinking 3 grams of oat milk a day (roughly 3 cups) reduces cholesterol by 3% and the more harmful LDL by 5%. A more recent study found that 3 grams a day cut LDL by 5-11%! Making this milk an excellent choice for those that struggle with their cholesterol levels.
Not So Healthy Ingredients
There’s always a cautionary label when it comes to groceries, so don’t get duped into thinking oat milk is without its controversial ingredients. When shopping for your next carton, back away from the oaty brews that contain:
- Sugar: Watch the sugar content; to make oat milk more palatable some companies will opt for the quick fix of sweetening the milk. Great for making milkshakes. Otherwise, to avoid this problem, buy unsweetened.
- Carrageenan: Made from seaweed, carrageenan is used as a thickener in products; however, it’s inflammatory.
- Natural Flavors: The mystery ingredient that could mean anything from real to synthetic, so bypass natural flavors for a product with better transparency.
- Vitamin D2: A cheap type of vitamin D that isn’t absorbed readily by the body.
- Vegetable Oils: Many oils, primarily corn and soy, come from GMO crops and are extracted using toxic chemicals. Apart from olive and coconut oil, research is mounting that other oils may not be as healthy as we once thought. Always look for the Non-GMO Project 1 verification stamp.
DIY Oat Milk
Skip the unpronounceable ingredients found in commercial oat milks and bottle your own oaty brew.
Here’s How: 1 cup of steel-cut oats, 3 cups of water and a pinch of quality sea salt. Soak oats and salt overnight in a large bowl with 3 cups of water, then toss the mix into a high-speed blender. Once done, strain out oat pulp with a cheesecloth and refrigerate. It stays fresh for up to 5 days!
Too bland: add vanilla extract, a sweetener of choice (raw honey, maple syrup, stevia, etc.), or cinnamon for some spice.
Want to see oat milk in action? Try this mouthwatering recipe from our new ShredFast Intermittent Fasting ebook!
Red Velvet Smoothie
2 cups oat milk
2 handfuls ice cubes
1 small beet, cooked
3 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp raw honey or 1 tbsp stevia
Blend all ingredients in the blender & enjoy!
Get more amazing meal, snack and dessert ideas — use promo code FASTED for $30 off the ebook.
Should You Switch To Oat Milk: Not Exclusively
Oat milk is another non-dairy alternative that as the new kid in a crowded market, is earning quite the reputation as a viable option for those with special dietary concerns - nut allergies or for health reasons like high cholesterol. Oat milk is ideal for the do-it-yourselfers, the adventurous, or to rotate with milk and non-dairy alternatives. But should you switch over to oat milk exclusively? Unless you have special dietary needs, then we recommend you have an open relationship with your milks and milk-alts. Just remember the golden rule: any milk in moderation is a good choice! So go on, try oat milk in your next smoothie or overnight porridge.