Oat milk lattes are all over Instagram right now.
Almond milk is so 2016. Now, everyone’s all about oat milk.
You can’t scroll through your feed without seeing influencers and bloggers ‘gram pics of their oat milk lattes and smoothies.
It’s just part of life now—and everyone (even non-vegans!) wants to get in on the trend. But should you really buy into the hype? Here’s what you should know.
What is oat milk?
Oat milk is, well, exactly what it sounds like: a non-dairy, vegan milk substitute made from oats. At its most basic form, oat milk is made of oats and water blended together, then strained to create a smooth, creamy liquid. Some brands fortify theirs with extra vitamins and minerals (or add flavors and sweeteners).
Oat milk nutrition
Nutrition labels vary between brands, so your mileage may vary. Some, for example, have more sugar than others, depending on added flavors and other factors.
Here’s an example of what you’ll get in one cup of plain Pacific Foods oat milk:
- Calories: 130
- Fat: 2.5 g
- Saturated fat: 0 g
- Protein: 4 g
- Carbohydrates: 24 g
- Sugars: 19 g
- Fiber: 1.9 g
- Sodium: 115 mg
You’ll also get around 35 percent of your recommended calcium intake per cup, and about 10 percent of your daily recommended iron intake—although again, those numbers vary per brand based on how the milk is fortified.
HOW IT COMPARES TO OTHER PLANT-BASED MILKS
In general, Grant says that oat milk usually has less sodium per cup than other non-dairy choices. For example, soy milk has about 124 mg of sodium per cup, and almond milk has 186 mg per cup—as opposed to oat milk’s 115 mg.
It also is higher in fiber than dairy, soy, and almond milks at nearly two grams per cup (compared to soy’s 1.5 grams per cup, and dairy milk and almond milk’s zero grams per cup).
It still doesn’t hold a nutritional candle to dairy milk, though. “Unfortunately, oat milk is much lower in protein, and slightly higher in calories when compared to dairy milk of a similar fat content,” Grant says.
One advantage of oat milk—it is generally free of allergens like soy and nuts, making it a good dairy-free alternative if you have food allergies. Oats are also generally gluten-free, although you should still check the label before purchasing if you have Celiac disease or another kind of gluten intolerance.
How to use it
Think of oat milk as the tofu of milks—it has a really neutral taste that makes it work well in a lot of different foods beyond just pouring it over your cereal. Try baking with it, stirring it in your coffee, or cooking other grains (like farro) in it, suggests Cheryl Mitchell, food scientist at Elmhurst Milked.
And if you want to really double down on your oats, Mitchell recommends pouring oat milk on top of your oatmeal. “This gives a double benefit of the soluble fibers and nutrition, and keeps your digestive tract in great shape,” she says.
Make it yourself
If oat milk hasn’t yet come to a grocer near you, pick a rainy day to DIY it. Mitchell says to cook the oats according to package directions, then mill them in a blender into a fine liquid. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth to take out any remaining chunks of oat. Then, bring it to a full boil and then cool it rapidly before storing in the refrigerator, Mitchell says (to help prevent bacteria from growing).
Homemade oat milk lasts two to three days at most in your fridge. Store-bought brands are shelf stable until open, then last seven to 10 days after opening in the refrigerator (depending on the package expiration date).