These days, grocery stores are quickly running out of essentials like eggs and milk. With demand high and stocks low, many are seeking alternatives, and oat milk has become a popular choice. And while non-dairy milk options have been trendy for a while, oat milk boasts its own unique health benefits you’ll be surprised — and excited — to learn about.
What is oat milk?
Oat milk is a non-dairy milk alternative made from oats. To make oat milk, steel-cut or rolled oats are soaked with water, blended together, and then strained with a cheesecloth. Oat milk tastes really similar to dairy milk, thought it’s a little sweeter and has a thicker texture.
Much like whole oats, oat milk boasts a dense nutrient profile that makes it super healthy to add to your diet. Even further, we’d go as far as to say it could also be considered an anti-aging superfood.
Compared to other non-dairy milk alternatives, oat milk has more carbs and fiber than almond or soy milk. Also, oat and almond milk both tend to be enriched with nutrients. Almond milk varieties generally contain more vitamin E, but oat milk tends to contain more added B vitamins. Plus, if you have allergies to nuts or soy, oat milk is a totally safe option.
Health Benefits of Oat Milk
Since oat milk is made from whole oats, it naturally contains nutrients like riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium. Riboflavin is a B vitamin that plays a role in our ability to turn food into energy. Phosphorus is a mineral that’s involved in the health of our bones and teeth. Potassium is another mineral is essential for proper muscle and nerve function.
What’s more, since it’s often used to replace regular cow’s milk in one’s diet, oat milk is fortified with nutrients that are present in milk like calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamins A and D. Oat milk can contain up to 50 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin B12, 27 percent for calcium, and 18 percent of vitamin A and D.
Adding oat milk to your diet can help you take better care of your skin and hair. As mentioned, oat milk contains high amounts of B vitamins like riboflavin and B12. B vitamins are linked to a number of health benefits, including strong hair, nails, and skin. In fact, vitamin B 12 specifically is often found in hair, skin, and nail supplements. B vitamins also help fight oxidative damage to our cells from harmful free radicals, helping to minimize skin damage and encourage cellular repair.
Similarly, b vitamins work anti-aging magic on hair, too, by encouraging cell renewal the same way they do for skin. They also may play a role in hair color. Some research suggests that deficiency in vitamin B 12 can cause premature graying and hair loss. What’s more, women are more likely to be deficient in B 12 during and after menopause.
And if you’re actively working to keep your bones strong and sturdy over time, oat milk can help. Vitamin B12 has been linked to strong bones and a lowered risk of bone conditions like osteoporosis. Oat milk is also often fortified with vitamin D and calcium — both nutrients which promote good bone health.
As we get older, our heart health becomes another top concern. Oat milk contains beta glucan, a type of soluble fiber that benefits the heart. The beta glucan in oats forms a gel-like consistency in the intestines and helps to move waste through the digestive system. That gel-like substance binds to excess fat (cholesterol), helping it to be excreted rather than absorbed into your bloodstream. In other words, drinking oat milk could potentially lower your blood cholesterol levels and help you fight heart disease.
Research backs this up: In one study, subjects who consumed three cups of oat milk every day for five weeks reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol by five percent. Another study found that consuming three grams of oat beta-glucans each day lowered LDL cholesterol by between five and seven percent. A cup of oat milk contains about one and a half grams of beta-glucans, so these results could be achieved with just two cups a day!
All in all, oat milk is a delicious and nutritious milk substitute that doesn’t come with as many risk factors as other plant-based milk options. That being said, many commercial oat milk brands contain added sugar, so be sure to check your labels and opt for unsweetened varieties when possible.
Need ideas for adding oat milk to your diet? Check out some of our favorite oat milk recipes here!
Here’s to looking and feeling great — at any age!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.