Oat milk is one of the most popular dairy or cow milk alternatives, followed closely by soy, almond, and coconut. If you don’t have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, you must try oat milk at least once. Its rich and creamy flavor elevates the taste of cereals and hot beverages. What’s more, drinking it on its own is a treat.
Even though oat milk’s consistency is nearly similar to that of cow’s milk, their nutritional values differ to a great extent. Oat milk is rich in carbohydrates and has a higher caloric content than cow’s milk. On the other hand, cow’s milk has double the protein of oat milk.
What is Oat Milk?
Oat milk is made by blending rolled oats and water. The resultant solution is then strained to remove the pulp. In the end, you’re left with a creamy jug of delicious oat milk!
How to Make Oat Milk at Home
To prepare oat milk yourself, start by adding 1 cup of rolled oats and 4 cups of water to a blender jug and blend on max power for around 30 to 45 seconds. Take care not to over blend. Strain twice through a clean shirt or a towel to remove the starch.
For added flavor, you can throw in a date, some berries, sea salt, vanilla extract, or cacao powder when blending.
Nutritional Content of Oat Milk
The ingredients and nutrients in oat milk vary from brand to brand. To improve the nutritional value, manufacturers fortify the oat milk by adding additional vitamins and minerals. On average, oat milk is a poor source of nutrients compared to cow’s milk.
Eight ounces or a glass of oat milk provides calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, riboflavin, and iron; except for iron, most of the nutrients present in each serving are fortified. This means that these nutrients do not occur naturally but are added during the manufacturing process.
The fortification of cow milk alternatives, including oat milk, is not federally regulated; hence, comparing the exact amount of nutrients per serving is challenging. Some brands fortify more when compared to others.
Some brands of oat milk can have more than ten ingredients, including emulsifiers and stabilizers, to enhance the taste and elongate the shelf life. Some examples are gellan gum, sunflower lecithin, and locust bean gum.
Oat milk offers more riboflavin (vitamin B-2) than cow’s milk and each serving of oat milk provides 4 grams of protein on average. The amount varies slightly from brand to brand. It is essential to note that oats are a source of incomplete proteins. Depending entirely on these sources to fulfill our daily protein requirement will mean not providing our body with essential amino acids.
Oat milk is rich in sugar, and each serving of homemade oat milk can have up to 24 grams of carbohydrates. Some varieties of store-bought oat milk contain added sugar for an even sweeter taste. Therefore, it is vital to make an informed choice and compare ingredient lists and nutrition labels before making a purchase.
Oat milk is a safe choice for people with soy, nut, and dairy allergies. If you have celiac disease or avoid gluten, check the label on the oats or oat milk carton because some oats might be getting processed in factories that process gluten-containing grains.
Cow’s milk is the liquid produced by the mammary glands of cows. Whole cow’s milk is 87% water and 13% protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals. There are a lot of processing techniques that are used to remove fat content from milk to produce lower-fat varieties. Some of these are “reduced-fat,” “lowfat,” “nonfat,” and “skim,” and they have a varied milk fat content.
According to the Dietary Guidelines, the recommended daily requirements include three 8-ounce servings of milk or other dairy foods for an increased calcium intake and reduced risk of bone density diseases, such as osteoporosis. However, new research continues to unearth evidence, suggesting there’s no visible benefit of milk intake on bone health; rather, it can be a leading cause of diseases such as prostate cancer.
Nutritional Content of Cow’s Milk
Each serving of cow’s milk contains varying amounts of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, niacin, iodine, zinc, selenium, and vitamins B2 and B12.
Cow’s milk is usually only fortified with vitamins A and D while naturally rich in other nutrients. Besides being a better source of nutrients than oat milk, cow’s milk offers nearly twice the amount of protein (8 grams of protein per serving) compared to oat milk. The proteins present in cow’s milk are complete, high-quality proteins with all nine essential amino acids.
When it comes to sugar content, cow’s milk offers 12 grams of carbohydrates per serving, and most of its lactose is naturally occurring.
Pros of Oat Milk
- It is a good substitute if you are allergic to lactose, soy, or nuts.
- It offers better protein and fiber content as compared to other plant-based milk substitutes (almond and rice)
Cons of Oat Milk
- It is more expensive than other types of milk
- Some brands of oat milk include oils as one of the ingredients
Pros of Cow’s Milk
- It offers high-quality protein, containing all essential amino acids
- The human body can easily digest the calcium present in cow’s milk
- It is a good source of nutrients and vitamins A and D
- It is the cheapest option compared with its plant substitutes
- It is widely available
- It is also available in lactose-free versions for people with lactose intolerance
Cons of Cow’s Milk
- The regular version of cow’s milk might not be digestible by people with lactose intolerance
- Regular whole milk has a high caloric and fat content
Comparison of Low Fat Cow’s Milk Vs. Oat Milk (1 serving size: 8 oz)
Here’s how the nutritional values of low-fat (1%) milk compare to standard oat milk:
Low Fat Milk
- Count: 100
- Fats: 2.5g
- Proteins: 8g
- Total Amount of Sugar: 12g
- Carbohydrates: 12g
- Nutrients*: calcium (30%), protein (16%), phosphorus (25%), potassium (10%), niacin (10%), riboflavin (25%), vitamin B12 (20%), vitamin A (10%), vitamin D (30%)
- Ingredients: Milk, vitamin A, and vitamin D
Original Oat Milk
- Count: 130
- Fat: 2.5g
- Protein: 4g
- Total Amount of Sugar: 19g
- Carbohydrates: 24g
- Nutrients*: calcium (35%), iron (10%), riboflavin (30%), vitamin A (10%), vitamin D (25%)
- Ingredients*: oats, oat bran, water, sea salt, gellan gum, tricalcium phosphate, riboflavin, vitamin A, and vitamin D
*varies from brand to brand
On the one hand, cow’s milk is a rich source of calcium, protein, and many vitamins and minerals, but on the other, not everyone can digest the lactose present in it. This has led people to opt for plant-based, non-dairy options such as oat milk.
Although oat milk might be a good alternative, it is not an exact substitute for the nutritional requirements filled by cow’s milk. Some brands do offer added vitamins and minerals, but it is imperative to note that not all of these fortified kinds of milk can be fully absorbed by your body.
There’s no definite answer to whether oat milk is as healthy as cow’s milk because both options have varying amounts of carbs, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. One should opt for the choice that is best suitable according to their health and bodily requirements.