Over the last several year, non-dairy milk alternatives like almond, coconut, and soy have gained popularity amongst consumers. Plant-based milk is popular with vegans, those with lactose intolerance, and individuals looking to limit their consumption of animal products. You may have noticed that your favorite coffee shop or cafe has started offering a wider array of milk alternatives and oak milk is undoubtedly the new kid on the block. More recently oat milk has become the newest fad when it comes to plant-based milk. Oat milk is derived from blended oats which are then strained through a cheesecloth. This creamy “milk” makes for that beautiful barista art you’ve probably seen on Instagram. Oat milk has a number of desirable qualities and health benefits!
While most nut milks generally contain a gram or two of protein, oat milk has three to four grams per serving. Like fortified nut milks, oat milk is great source of calcium and Vitamin D. Although soy milk is a better source of protein than oat milk, it is not always fortified with Vitamin D. Soy milk is known to contain phytoestrogens which mimic the effects of estrogen in the body — these phytoestrogens are safe in moderation though!
Despite being commonly referring to plant beverages as “milks,” there is a great deal of controversy over this classification. Much of the confusion surrounding nut milks can be blamed by their nutritional profiles. Cow’s milk is known as a source of protein, vitamin B12, calcium, and Vitamin D. It is important to take into consideration the differences that cow’s milk has in comparison to plant-based milks. Because cow’s milk is often the key source of protein for children and adults, it is imperative for one to find ways to supplement this when eliminating it from their diet. It is always important to remain cognizant of vitamin and mineral levels, such as calcium and vitamin D. Minerals like calcium are important when it comes to maintaining bone density and required for optimal muscle and neuron function. A key player when it comes to calcium absorption is Vitamin D. A majority of the plant-based milks that you will find on store shelves are often fortified with Calcium and vitamin D, and may at times contain even more than cow’s milk. While oat milk’s availability may still be limited, it is growing at a rapid pace. The next, or first, time you grab a trendy oat milk latte remember all of the nutritional benefits that come with it!