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Oat Milk: Buy or Bye?

Taking a deep dive into trending foods and drinks to find out if they are worth the hype.

Person making oat milk

The latest not-milk darling taking the U.S. by storm hails from oats; boasters say its fuller flavor is perfect for scratching that dairy itch. Oat milk is made from whole oats that are soaked in water, blended and then strained. The drink has a touch of natural sweetness and is undeniably deliciously creamy since the grains absorb more water than nuts. (Many almond milks notoriously taste watered down.)

Nutritionally, oat milk has more protein than nut milks—about 3–4 grams per cup. Still, this doesn’t stack up to dairy milk or soy milk in terms of protein. Each serving does deliver some fiber, about 2 g in a cup, which includes some of the cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber beta-glucan.

Just remember that you’ll get more fiber—including beta-glucan—from eating your oats instead of drinking them. Oat milk is also quite a bit higher in total carbohydrates than most other nondairy options—around 15–25 g per cup depending on the brand. Add in any sweeteners and this number goes higher. Although oats themselves contain no gluten, cross-contamination can be an issue. If someone has celiac disease or is otherwise gluten intolerant, it’s important to seek a brand that is certified gluten-free.

The verdict: For drinking, baking or lattes, oat milk is one of the better nondairy options. Just know that it shouldn’t be considered a nutrient-dense choice, and users should make up for what they are not getting from regular milk like more protein elsewhere in their diets. People should be encouraged to select those labeled “unsweetened” to avoid added sugar and, if possible, use varieties that are fortified with nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin B12.

See also: What Is Milk, Anyway?



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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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