For a variety of reasons, people are leaving regular old cow’s milk behind. Millions of people are going vegan, and there is strong evidence that the dairy industry has a negative impact on the environment. There are also plenty of lactose-intolerant people, and non-dairy milk alternatives usually have less fat than regular milk. Soy milk, cashew milk, almond milk, and coconut milk are a few of the milk alternatives. There is a newcomer, oat milk, that is becoming extremely popular. How does oat milk compare in terms of taste and nutrition?

How does it taste?

Although oat milk has been in existence for nearly thirty years, it is just becoming popular in America. Oatly, one of the world’s leading oat milk brands, may be able to take credit for that. Rather than introducing their milk to the American public as yet another milk alternative, the company marketed heavily in New York City coffee shops. Samples were given to the shops and baristas were educated on the brand. By the time the oat milk was sold in grocery stores, avid coffee drinkers had acquired a taste for it.

Non-dairy drinkers have plenty of food blogs about how milk alternatives perform in the versatile manners that cow’s milk is used, such as baking, with cereal, or with coffee. Oat milk is widely regarded as the best milk alternative for coffee. Although it does not taste exactly like cow’s milk, oat milk is said to have a creamy texture and a taste more reminiscent of traditional dairy milk than other non-dairy alternatives. Oat milk is also thicker than most milk alternatives, so it makes a great option for those who dislike the thin, watery texture of other non-dairy milks.

Is it beneficial?

Concern for the environment is a motivation for many people to stop drinking cow’s milk. To raise a cow, acres of grass must be grown for it to eat, it requires gallons upon gallons of drinking water throughout its lifetime, and the belches and manure that cows produce naturally emit greenhouse gases. Oat milk uses far less water than other non-milk alternatives, and oats are a more environmentally sustainable crop that nuts.

Oat milk is made from soaking, blending, and straining oats. A large portion of the nutrients that would normally be found in oats are lost in this process. Fortified oat milk is a good source of a variety of vitamins, but non-fortified oat milk has little nutritional value. Despite the nutrient leeching production process, oat milk naturally contains a healthy level of fat and protein as well as a few grams of fiber. One study proved that regularly drinking oat milk can lower cholesterol because oats contain a fiber called beta-glucan. This fiber attached itself to cholesterol in the stomach and makes it harder for the body to metabolize the fat. This reduces the amount of cholesterol that deposits in adipose tissue or makes its way to the bloodstream.

A word of caution

Store-bought oat milk can be very sugary. On average, oat milk has about half as much sugar as cow’s milk, but oat milk has nearly double the amount of sugar as the most sugary non-dairy alternatives. These figures vary from brand to brand, so it is important to read the nutrition labels. Although oats are gluten-free, some brands of oat milk are not gluten-free because of added ingredients.

Oat milk is an environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional milk. It has been found to reduce cholesterol, and many say that it makes a great coffee creamer. People who make their own oat milk should be aware that they need to get the nutrients commonly associate from milk from other foods. Those who purchase oat milk should closely monitor that amount of sugar in their favorite brands.