Oats are everywhere these days, so why not in milk as well? “Oat milk is ideal for people with a dairy or nut allergy, or people who need a lactose-free option,” says Moore.
One cup of full-fat unsweetened oat milk from the brand Oatly contains 160 calories, 3 g of protein, and 2 g of fiber. You can also try the newer barista milk, which is an oat milk designed to create a foaming effect and to combine with hot liquid without separating. Compared to full-fat unsweetened oat milk, barista milk tends to contain around the same amount of calories and protein but may contain less fat. That’s according to nutrient comparisons between Elmhurst (milked oats versus barista oats) and Oatly products (chilled oat milk versus barista edition oat milk).
If you’re watching your fat or calorie intake, choose low-fat oat milk from Oatly, which contains 90 calories and the same amount of protein and fiber per cup. “Oat milk has less protein than pea or soy milk, but more than others, like coconut, cashew, and rice milk,” says Moore.
Oats naturally supply nutrients such as potassium, which helps promote healthy blood pressure levels, and iron, which is important for preventing anemia — two benefits that the National Institutes of Health notes.
Still not convinced? Oats boast beta glucan, research shows. “This is a soluble fiber that may offer heart health benefits, as well as aid in proper digestion,” says Melissa Mitri, RD, who’s in private practice in Milford, Connecticut.
Labels vary, so you’ll want to check your oat milk package to see what’s inside. Some varieties will contain more iron than others, as is the case with Pacific Foods Organic Oat Original. So if that’s a concern for you, be sure to check the label. Also, many of these products, including Oatly’s unsweetened milks, are fortified and an excellent source of certain nutrients such as calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. Some brands aren’t as fortified as this, however, so be sure to check the label of your preferred brand to make sure you’re buying a product that meets your needs.
Bonus: If you’re following a gluten-free diet, many oat milks are compliant — including ones from Oatly and Elmhurst — making them safe for individuals managing celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.
No matter which variety you pick, you can add oat milk to warm beverages like coffee and tea. “It has a creamy, rich mouth feel and doesn’t curdle or separate easily, making it an ideal base for a latte,” says Moore. “You can use it as you would any plant-based milk in smoothies, warm beverages, or cereal.” It’s also fairly easy to whip up yourself — give it a try with a maple vanilla oat milk recipe, courtesy of Moore.