Oat milk is gaining popularity daily, despite belonging to one of the oldest food groups. Rickard Öste, a researcher, invented oat milk in 1990. By late 2020, its market had skyrocketed, becoming America’s second largest plant-based milk.
Today, people with cow milk allergies and gluten and lactose intolerance use this drink as an alternative. So, with all the popularity, are there any oat milk disadvantages?
One of the common disadvantages of oat milk is that it’s high in carbohydrates and calories. This can be a problem for people trying to watch their weight or manage their blood sugar levels.
Oat milk also contains high phosphorus levels, which can lead to calcium loss and weak bones.
So, before you get your hands on that first cup, you should know a few things about oat milk, but let’s start from the beginning.
Understanding Oat Milk
Oat milk is plant milk that is made from oats. It is a vegan-friendly alternative to dairy milk, and it’s also lactose-free.
Oat milk is creamy, meaning you can use it in many ways, like in yogurts, baking, etc. It’s also a good choice for people allergic to soy or nuts.
Oat milk is made by soaking steel-cut oats in water, blending, and straining them using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth.
This plant milk is a good source of nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and iron. It also contains antioxidants and fiber. However, the blend of minerals and vitamins will depend on the brand.
Oat milk has a mild oatmeal flavor with a slightly sweet and nutty taste. Some say that it tastes like cow milk, only it’s sweeter, and considers it closer to regular milk than any other plant-based milk.
You will also find different flavors of oat milk in the market, such as sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla and chocolate.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Oat Milk?
While oat milk has some advantages, there are also some disadvantages. Here are five of the potential drawbacks of oat milk:
1. High In Carbohydrates
Oat milk contains natural sugar, even for the unflavored options. This makes the drink have high carbohydrates. Consuming foods or beverages with high carbohydrates can affect your blood sugar, especially for people with diabetes.
Furthermore, too many carbohydrates can also lead to obesity, stroke, and risk of heart disease. Most of the oat milk you find in stores may contain added sugars.
For example, one cup (240ml) of the Pacific Foods organic oat original has 25 g of carbs, while the same amount of cow’s milk is 12g.
This means that oat milk has more than double the carbs compared to cow milk, which is too high for people trying to watch their carb intake.
2. Oat Milk Is High In Calories
Oat milk has too many calories; a cup contains between 120g to 130g. Calories are crucial for giving your body the energy it requires each day.
However, when you consume more than you need, your body stores the extra calories as fat. Therefore, too many calories in your body can increase weight, which can lead to obesity.
In addition, too much weight can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
3. Oat Milk Can Contain Gluten
Naturally, oats are gluten-free, which automatically makes oat milk gluten-free too. However, cross-contamination is possible in the fields where oats are grown with wheat or machines during processing.
In a small study on Canadian oats, 88% of the samples we found to have gluten.
This can be risky for gluten intolerant people, as it can lead to adverse side effects such as stomach pain, diarrhea, headaches, and more. Furthermore, it can cause severe effects for those who have celiac diseases, gluten ataxia, and other gluten-related illnesses.
4. Oat Milk Can Cause Digestive Issues
The additives and preservatives that manufacturers use in oat milk can cause gastrointestinal (GI) problems for some people. In addition, the carbohydrates in oats are high and can take a long time for your digestive tract to break, leading to bloating, constipation or diarrhea.
5. Oat Milk Is Not As Nutritious As Cow’s Milk
Cow’s milk is a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D, while oat milk is not. Although oat milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk, most of its nutrients are artificial.
Since the nutrients are added during manufacturing, this product cannot be as nutrient-dense as cow’s milk, which contains nutrients in its natural state.
In addition, some processing steps of oat milk can lead to decreased antioxidant activity and other health benefits.
6. It’s Expensive
Most vegan products are always expensive, and oat milk is no different. This could be because there’s limited demand compared to cow milk. This means not everyone can afford to buy this milk.
7. Contains Canola Oil
Some oat milk contains canola oil, which is considered not to be so healthy. Canola oil is high in trans fat and is also inflammatory.
8. Not an Excellent Substitute for Babies
Do not use oat milk as a substitute for breast milk or formula. This is because it has fewer nutrients and is not a wholesome source for your baby’s nutrition needs required for healthy growth.
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Is Oat Milk Bad For You?
It depends. Oat milk cannot be good for you if you are gluten intolerant, have celiac disease, or have any other gluten-related illness.
This is because cross-contamination can happen when oats are processed in the same machinery as wheat or in fields where wheat is cultivated.
In addition, if you have an oat allergy, your body might react to oat protein found in the milk. Oats are also high in carbs, which are hard for the body to break and can lead to side effects such as stomach upsets and depression, among others.
Oat milk can also be bad for you if you have issues with your blood sugar. This is because it contains sugar known as maltose, which has a high glycemic index of 105.
Other than these major issues, oat milk is healthy, especially for people who cannot take cow’s milk. It has become one of the best products ever for vegans, and that’s why we see a surge in popularity.
It’s not advisable to use oat milk to replace cow milk, especially for babies, as its nutrient level is unmatched. So, if your body has no issue with cow’s milk, use oat milk sparingly, as too much can be bad for your health.
What Are The Side Effects Of Oat Milk?
While oat milk is generally considered safe, you should know a few potential side effects before taking this beverage. Some people may experience:
- Allergies to oat milk
- Stomach pain
- Intestinal gas
- Quick elevation of blood sugar
- Stomach cramps
Does Oat Milk Cause Allergies?
Yes, oat milk can lead to allergies, even though it’s not something you will often see, like in cow milk. The protein found in oats is avenin, which can lead to oat allergy in some people.
Oat allergy symptoms include hives, itchy skin and eyes, runny nose, nausea, scratchy throat, and diarrhea.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Oat Milk?
Oat milk is a popular choice for both vegan and non-vegans. Its increased popularity leaves many to wonder what is unique about it. Despite its drawbacks, it has numerous health benefits. Here are some pros that come with oat milk:
1. A Good Source Of Fiber
Oat milk is higher in dietary fiber than most plant-based milk. Dietary fiber is suitable for gut health as it can improve digestion and nutrient absorption. It also helps promote bowel movement and reduce blood pressure.
2. Low In Fat
Compared to cow milk, oat milk has less fat, and it’s a good choice for those who want to reduce their fat intake.
3. It’s Dairy Free
Oat milk is dairy-free, making it an excellent choice for those who are allergic to dairy products or are on dietary restrictions due to medication. In addition, it’s free of lactose, nuts, and soy, making it great for vegans. You can also use it in recipes that need non-dairy milk or creams.
4. It’s A Good Source Of Calcium
Oats are a great source of calcium, making oat milk an easy way to get your daily dose of this vital mineral. Calcium will help make your bones and teeth strong.
5. Great For Weight Loss
Oat milk promotes satiety since it’s high in fiber, which can help fill you up quickly and keep you full for longer. This enables you to reduce food intake, making it a go-to choice for those who want to lose some weight.
6. It’s An excellent Source Of Vitamins And Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are crucial in how your body functions. Oat milk has vitamins B, B12, D, riboflavin, zinc, and more. They can help in energy production, regulation of hormones, wound healing, and much more. It’s good to note that commercial oat milk has more nutrients than homemade one.
7. Oat Milk Nutrition Facts
Even though oat milk is not as nutritious as cow’s milk, it’s a great source of nutrients for those who don’t take dairy milk for some reason. Here’s an example of what oat milk has in store for you:
Note: These figures are for Oatly original oat milk (1 cup, 240ml).
Is Oat Milk Healthier Than Cow’s Milk?
No. Although oat milk is an excellent alternative, it’s not as healthy as cow’s milk. Oat milk is not as nutrient-dense as cow’s milk, and the nutrients it provides are fortified.
Besides this, both kinds of milk have their advantages and disadvantages.
Each milk will offer different benefits to the body. For example, oat milk can effectively lower cholesterol levels than cow milk.
But on the other hand, cow milk gives you a good source of protein, which is essential for energy and for building your body tissues.
Is Oat Milk Good For Weight Loss?
Yes. When taken appropriately, oat milk can help in weight loss. Studies show that beta-glucan, the soluble fiber in oats, promotes satiety.
This means you can eat less per serving but feel full for a more extended period. Satiety helps you reduce the number of times you can eat, making it easier to control what you eat.
As a result, it helps improve glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes and helps in weight loss. Also, oat milk with no insoluble fiber has been shown to lower cholesterol levels.
Can You Make Oat Milk At Home?
Yes, you can make your oat milk. Making your oat milk at home can be healthier than retail oat milk, although it won’t contain some nutrients. This is because store-bought brands undergo processes that may reduce oat milk health benefits.
In addition, pre-made oat milk contains additives, preservatives, added sugars, thickeners, and other ingredients. These components can lead to side effects such as stomach upsets and increased blood sugar.
Furthermore, your oat milk will be cheaper than the ones at the store, and you can experiment with any flavor you want. Just ensure it’s a healthy option.
How Do You Make Oat Milk?
If the added ingredients in commercial oat milk are causing you ill effects, you can easily prepare your own. Here are the steps:
- Soak your oats for at least 30 minutes (if possible, soak overnight). You can use any type of oat. Note: It’s not a must you soak the oats, as soaked oats are more prone to sliminess.
- Drain the water and wash the oats.
- Add water and blend the oats.
- Using a thin towel, nut milk bag, or cheesecloth, strain the milk into a container.
- For some flavor, you can blend the oats with salt, vanilla extract, cinnamon, dates, chocolate, or berries, although it’s optional.
Is Oat Milk Inflammatory
Studies have shown that oats are anti-inflammatory, but oat milk can become inflammatory due to added sugars and flavors during processing. In addition, when oats or oat milk become cross-contaminated with gluten, it can lead to inflammation in people who are gluten intolerant.
Can Oat Milk Cause Diarrhea?
Oat milk will not cause diarrhea if no sugars are added and if you’re drinking it in moderation, but the amount is different for everyone. However, commercial oat milk has a high possibility of causing diarrhea due to added sugar, additives, and other ingredients. In addition, if you’ve been using dairy regularly and suddenly switch to oat milk, your body may not be used to digesting it yet. This could lead to an upset stomach or diarrhea if you consume too much too quickly.
Can Oat Milk Give You Gas?
Yes. Oat milk can give you gas and other stomach issues such as bloating and pain. This is because oat milk contains phytate, which binds to minerals and makes them less absorbable by the body. That’s why it’s a good idea to soak your oats before making your milk, as soaking helps reduce the phytic acid.
Can You Freeze Oat Milk?
Of course, yes. You can freeze your milk, which can last for up to six months in the freezer. However, it’s worth noting that the texture of your oat milk can change to a thick consistency once it thaws.
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 4 cups of ice-cold water
- A pinch of salt
- Vanilla extract
- Cheesecloth or nut milk bag
- Clean container
- Put the oats in a blender: We will skip the soaking part in our recipe to prevent our milk from being slimy. Also, when buying, ensure your oats are labeled gluten-free if you're allergic to gluten.
- Add water: Add 4 cups of ice-cold water. Avoid warm or hot water, as it can make your milk gummier.
- Blend the oats: Add a pinch of salt and vanilla extract for some flavor. Blend your oats for 20 to 30 seconds. Note that blending too long can make your milk slimy.
- Strain your milk: Using a cheesecloth or nut milk bag, strain the milk into a container. For a more smooth consistency, strain the milk twice.
- Store your milk: Seal the container and store your milk in the refrigerator. Consume it within five days. Do not heat your milk to avoid a sauce-like consistency.
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