food

Everything you need to know about oat milk, the 'new soy' everyone's putting in their coffee.

Is it just us, or is oat milk suddenly everywhere?

We know. You only just wrapped your head around lactose-free milk and Zymil milk and macadamia milk and quinoa milk and coconut milk and almond milk and rice milk and camel milk and deer milk (yep, deer milk).

But unlike some of the other non-dairy milk alternatives listed above, it looks like oat milk is here to stay.

But… what the heck is oat milk, is it actually any good for you and, most importantly, what does it taste like in your coffee?

We asked two Accredited Practising Dietitians, Anna-Jane Debenham and Alexandra Parker from The Biting Truth, to answer all your curdling oat milk questions.

Speaking of coffee, here’s a visual representation of what happens when your work wife needs one! Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia

What is oat milk?

There’s a good chance you’ve seen the Oatly oat milk brand on your Instagram feed and at the supermarket, but what actually is oat milk?

Debenham and Parker explained oat milk is… ground up, watery oats (more on how oat milk is made in a sec). To get technical, it’s a plant-based milk that’s a dairy-free, vegan alternative to cow’s milk.

How to make oat milk.

Sure, you can make your own oat milk at home, but here’s how oat milk goes from being a pile of oats to the trendy-looking bottle at your local cafe.

“Oat milk is made by soaking and blending oats and water, then straining them through a cheese cloth to separate the milk from the oats,” Debenham and Parker said.

“This milk is then usually fortified with additional nutrients such as calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin D, as the “milk” doesn’t naturally contain the same nutritional value as the oats.”

 

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Is oat milk good for you?

To talk about whether oat milk is “good for you” a.k.a healthy, there’s a few things to consider.

First, there’s the nutritional breakdown: one cup of oat milk contains roughly 650kJ, 5g of total fat, 1g saturated fat, 3g fibre and 2g protein.

Debenham and Parker added, “Oat milk can be a good option for someone with dietary restrictions or food intolerances because it naturally does not contain dairy, lactose, soy and nuts.”

So, yes, oat milk is “healthy”, but it’s also not liquid gold sent from the gods.

“Many milk alternatives, including oat milk, can sometimes contain added sugars so it is important to read the label and choose unsweetened varieties. And when it comes to the actual oat content of oat milk, it typically only contains 15 per cent oats, so you get some benefit but not a huge amount. Oat milk does contain small amounts of gluten so it’s not suitable for coeliacs.”

What does oat milk taste like?

Great question. This writer put her body and taste buds on the line to be able to definitively tell you:

If you normally have cow’s milk in your coffee, you should know, oat milk doesn’t taste like cow’s milk. That said, it actually doesn’t have much of a taste, which anyone who doesn’t enjoy soy milk or nuttier milks with their coffee may prefer.

Oat milk versus other non-diary, non-lactose milks.

So, is oat milk better than soy milk? Or lactose-free milk?

In Debenham’s and Parker’s opinions, soy milk is a better nutritional option than oat milk.

“There are various factors to take into account if you’re looking for a non-dairy milk. For example: taste preference, allergies and intolerances, health goals and how you’ll be consuming milk (e.g. with cereal, in a coffee, in a smoothie).”

“Soy milk is the most nutritionally balanced plant-based alternative to cow’s milk – it has more protein on average than other plant alternatives, contains fibre, and is a source of ‘good fats’.”

That said, oat milk does trump other milks like rice, coconut and almond milk.

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“Compared to other plant-based milk options, oat milk is slightly higher in protein and much higher in carbohydrates. Rice milk is made from milled rice and water and has comparable calories to cow’s milk. It’s generally calcium-fortified, but it tends to be low in protein, and high in sugars. Coconut milk is typically low in carbohydrate and protein, high in saturated fat, and whether it’s fortified depends on the brand.

“And a note on almond milk: almond milk is not a nutritional substitute for cow’s milk. If you enjoy almond milk in your coffee, that’s fine, but just be aware it’s not a nutritionally suitable alternative to milk.”

coffee
Which milk is right for you depends on your taste, health goals and how you drink milk. Image: Unsplash.

Oat milk versus regular diary milk?

Debenham and Parker added, "Compared to cow's milk, oat milk tends to have fewer kilojoules, fat, protein, but more carbohydrates. Oat milk provides around 3g of protein per cup, compared to cow's milk, which provides 8g per cup."

In other words, cow's milk is your best bet, nutritionally speaking. It's also best if you're following a high-protein diet.

The final verdict on oat milk...

"Given the trend we are seeing with more people swapping to a plant-based diet, or consuming less animal products overall, we do imagine oat milk is here to stay," Debenham and Parker said.

"Oat milk is certainly a healthy option for vegans, allergy-prone individuals, people who are lactose intolerant or who don't eat dairy, but if you are switching from cow's milk to oat milk, make sure you look for brands that fortify with nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12."

To summarise:

  • Yes, oat milk is a great milk option if you're lactose intolerant, have allergies or are vegan.
  • Cow's milk will always be the most nutritionally sound milk option.
  • BUT if you don't drink cow's milk, soy milk is the best option, and oat milk is a better option than almond milk.

You can find out more info about The Biting Truth and their recipe plans at www.thebitingtruth.com or by following The Biting Truth on Instagram.

Feature image: Instagram/@oatly.

Have you tried oat milk? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

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