In recent years, non-dairy alternatives like oat milk have exploded in the marketplace. According to the Food Navigator, U.S. sales of this nondairy alternative climbed more than 170 percent in 2020. But what is oat milk—and why is it such a hot trend?
How It’s Made
As a dairy-free alternative, oat milk is made from a common pantry staple—oats (either rolled or steel-cut) soaked in water. Once soft, the oats are blended and then strained, resulting in oat milk.
Why is it Such a Hot Trend?
Besides its rich, creamy taste and texture, oat milk’s popularity stems from what it doesn’t contain—namely, allergens or irritants typically found in other milk substitutes (think lactose, nuts and soy). And, if the oat milk is made from certified gluten-free oats, it’s also gluten-free. If you’ve got dietary restrictions (such as dealing with lactose intolerance, dairy allergies or celiac disease), oat milk can make a healthy choice. You can drink it straight, of course, or swap it out in recipes that require a creamy base, such as smoothies and sauces. It also goes great in coffee.
This vegan-friendly option delivers a variety of nutritional benefits. While straining the oats removes some of the nutrients, manufacturers typically enrich oat milk with vitamins and minerals. So, while you can make oat milk at home, you’ll miss out on added nutrients in commercial alternatives, such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins A, D, B2 and B12. These key nutrients help support heart health and strong bones.
Worried About Fat and Cholesterol?
With zero grams of saturated fat (the bad kind) and equal or more grams of unsaturated fat (the good kind) than whole cow’s milk, oat milk wins, hands down. Plus, it’s cholesterol-free, compared with the 24 milligrams per cup of whole milk.
At the Store
A growing number of products are being made with oat milk, including coffee creamer, ice cream, yogurt and bottled coffee drinks.
Known for its plant-based milks, Silk has created Silk Oatmilk. Both dairy- and gluten-free with 460 mg of calcium per cup—50 percent more than dairy milk—this rich and creamy oat milk is a nice option in coffee, on top of cereal, for baking or even drinking straight up.
Sustainability alert: Silk restores water to rivers drop for drop, putting back what is used to grow their oats.