So What Is It?
Oat milk is becoming more and more common on supermarket shelves these days due to its delicious flavor and impressive nutrient profile. It’s also ideal for those with dietary restrictions or allergies, as it’s naturally free of dairy, lactose, soy, nuts and gluten — as oats are naturally gluten-free.
Oat milk consists of steel-cut oats or whole groats that are soaked in water, blended, and then strained with a cheesecloth or a special nut milk bag. While the leftover oat pulp has the bulk of the fiber and most of the protein in the oats, the liquid or ‘milk’ that results does have some of the nutrients. Because oats absorb water more easily than nuts, when blended well enough, more of the food itself winds up passing through the cheesecloth, giving a creamier texture than nut milk without added ingredients. Oat milk is a vegan alternative to cow’s milk, and depending on which oat milk recipe you’re using, you can also add cinnamon, vanilla, dates or other natural sweeteners to enhance the flavor.
What are the Health Benefits of Oat Milk?
Oat milk is a good choice for anyone who is allergic or intolerant to dairy and/or nuts, as well as those looking to limit saturated fat in their diets. It’s even safe, generally, for people who have a gluten intolerance. Here are some additional benefits listed below
HELPS PREVENT ANEMIA | Anemia is a condition characterized by a lack of red blood cells in the body. This can result in a long list of symptoms, ranging from fatigue to pale skin and beyond. There are many different conditions that can result in anemia, but it is often caused by a lack of certain essential nutrients required for the synthesis of red blood cells, such as iron and vitamin B12. For this reason, those on a vegetarian or vegan diet are at an even higher risk of anemia, as most plant foods are lacking in these important micronutrients. However, just one cup of oat milk contains approximately 10 percent of the iron you need in the entire day, making it an especially good source for vegans and vegetarians. Paired with other iron-rich foods, such as spirulina, lentils and dark chocolate, adding a serving or two of oat milk into your diet can help promote healthy red blood cell production and prevent anemia.
STRENGTHENS BONES | Commercial oat milk is often enriched with both calcium and vitamin D, two important micronutrients that play a central role in bone health. Approximately 99 percent of the calcium in your body is found in your bones and is used to regulate bone development and maintenance. Meanwhile, vitamin D works to enhance the absorption of calcium to boost bone health even more. Upping your intake of both calcium and vitamin D is often recommended in the treatment of conditions like osteoporosis to help keep your bones strong. Having low levels of calcium and vitamin D may result in an increase in the breakdown of bone cells, plus a higher risk of bone weakness and fractures.
BOOSTS IMMUNITY | When you start feeling a bit under the weather, oat milk may not be the first thing you reach for. However, you can start incorporating it into your diet regularly to help boost your immune system. Most commercial oat milks are a great source of vitamin D and vitamin A, two nutrients that are essential when it comes to enhancing immunity and warding off illness and infection. Studies show that vitamin D is linked directly to immune cell function, and a deficiency may even be associated with a higher risk of autoimmune conditions, like type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Similarly, vitamin A can alter the immune response and may help improve the outcomes for certain types of infectious disease.
LOWERS CHOLESTEROL | Oats are well-known for their heart-healthy benefits and ability to keep cholesterol levels in check. This is because they contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which has been shown to have potent cholesterol-lowering properties. Interestingly enough, research has found that the beneficial effects of beta-glucan in oats are even retained in oat beverages like oat milk.