Oat milk v Cows milk. Which is healthier and better for the environment?


Oat milk versus whole milk

Oat milk is a great alternative to dairy milk, and it tastes delicious. The benefits of oat milk are endless: it’s lower in calories and contains less fat, has no cholesterol or lactose, and gives you all the necessary nutrients. Oat milk is rich in fiber which can help keep you regular and full for longer. And it tastes great!

Oat milk is also great for lactose-intolerant people. Oats have no lactose or casein proteins, which makes them easier to digest for people who can’t tolerate other dairy products. Oats have a good amount of protein and oat milk is one of the fastest-growing alternative milk in 2021 and 2022.

How Green is Oat Milk?

Oats are a perennial crop that doesn’t rely on chemical fertilizers or pesticides to thrive. As well as sustaining the growth of our oats, we don’t apply herbicides to stunt weed growth in the fields which allows us to plant more crops each season. This also means that when it comes time for harvesting, we have less soil disturbance and erosion than other crops resulting in fewer carbon emissions during harvest and transportation.

When compared with almond milk based on its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), oat milk is better for the environment by 11-22% overall and even greater at just 10% of the cost. When looking at freshwater use, almonds use 94% more water than oats and oat milk only uses 58%.

How does Oatmilk compare to other non-dairy options?

Oat Milk vs Almond Milk: Both almond and oat milks have the same calories, however when comparing grams of protein; 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk has just over 1 gram and a cup of oat milk has an impressive 3.5 grams. The texture is similar but if you prefer a thicker consistency in your drink or food you can add psyllium husks for better viscosity. oat milk is popular for making smoothies.

Oats are also packed with naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber. The naturally occurring sugars in oats also mean that you don’t have to worry about added sweeteners. Make sure to buy certified gluten-free oats for a safe ingredient list and nutrition information on our Oats page.

Can oat milk cause bloating?

if you’re sensitive to the kinds of carbohydrates in oat milk, and I bet many people are, then yes.

the “milk” that comes from oats is called “oat drink,” as it comes from soaking and grinding oats into a creamy liquid. most commercial brands of non-dairy oat drinks contain copious amounts of sugar, often as much or more than dairy milk.

and this is bad for those who are sensitive to sugars – because it can cause bloating and gas!

I see this every single day in my practice; clients who add oat milk to their coffee or cereal (two places where I highly recommend avoiding all milk/creamers) and then end up with stomach discomfort after, or maybe they just aren’t aware of the sugar content? Sadly a few brands are rather sneaky about it.

Soymilk is the highest source of natural sugars – and any kind of non-dairy milk is made by soaking or grinding some sort of bean/seed into a creamy liquid. generally, soybeans, almonds, cashews (and in the case of oat milk, oats) are soaked overnight and then blended/ground up to create the creamy “milk.”

So what’s causing you to bloat?

Well, you can thank Mother Nature for that one. All beans and seeds have carbohydrates that we cannot digest until they’re broken down with an enzyme found in your intestinal tract called alpha-galactosidase.

Here’s the problem – most people are low in this enzyme, meaning that you can’t break down these particular carbohydrates, thus the sugar/starch will travel around and through your body without being digested, which means fermentation!

This is why so many people find that beans “make them gassy.” there’s a lot of fermentable matter going on in your intestines. and while it might not cause a full-blown case of bloating, consuming too many non-digestible carbs over time can lead to gas production and other digestive health issues (motility problems).

BOTTOM LINE: if you’re sensitive to sugars in oats or any other beans like black or red beans I highly recommend avoiding all kinds of milk

Will oat milk lower cholesterol?

New research out of Lund University in Sweden indicates that oat milk, which is made with oats and water but no dairy products, can lower LDL (or “bad”) blood cholesterol concentration compared to cow’s dairy-based products—a well known risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The findings are published today in the British Journal of Nutrition.

While many plant-based foods have been shown to reduce CVD risks when consumed as part of an overall healthy diet, previous studies investigating possible cholesterol reductions from specific plant milks did not produce convincing evidence. Oat milk is a new addition to the market and it is currently unclear if will lower cholesterol.

The new study, led by Katri Räikkönen at Lund University in Sweden, investigated the potential role of oat milk to reduce LDL cholesterol compared to dairy-based products. The researchers tested the effect of consuming oat milk or a dairy-based drink on lipid levels after an overnight fast (overnight-fasted total cholesterol/LDL), as well as after a ten-hour following a high-fat breakfast (postprandial LDL).

A total of 40 women participated in the study. For two weeks they were randomly assigned to consume either 500 ml/day of either commercial oat milk or cow’s milk for breakfast. They continued their normal diets for the remainder of the day.

After four weeks, both groups showed significant (13%) reductions in LDL cholesterol from baseline while consuming oat milk for breakfast relative to cow’s milk (which had no effect). The postprandial effects were also significant: both acute and long-term effects were observed with oat milk consumption compared to cow’s milk. Overnight fasting total cholesterol, as well as HDL, non-HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B concentrations, didn’t differ significantly between the groups after either 4 or 8 weeks.

“The novel finding of this study is that 500 ml/day of oat based beverage lowered LDL when consumed over a period of eight weeks,” said Katri Räikkönen, PhD , principal investigator of the trial and Senior Lecturer at Lund University’s Department of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Sports. “This is particularly important because LDL-cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diet has an impact on both decreasing as well as increasing this risk.”

The researchers note that while more research is needed to determine the exact mechanism by which oat consumption lowers cholesterol, there are numerous reasons why oats may be beneficial. The beta-glucan fiber in oats can lower blood cholesterol levels through a number of pathways, including:

(1) slowing down glucose absorption from the gut;

(2) binding bile acids in the intestines so they cannot be reabsorbed;

(3) preventing the intestinal uptake of cholesterol;

(4) increasing fecal excretion of cholesterol and serine-conjugated bile acids due to fermentation by colonic bacteria; and, possibly,

(5) inhibiting hepatic synthesis of apolipoprotein B.

While oats are often considered a “healthy whole grain,” they also can contain measurable amounts of potentially toxic compounds known as phytate/phytic acid—an anti-nutrient that binds to minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium, making them unavailable for absorption in the body. Therefore, Räikkönen said it is important to pay attention when choosing oat products: “When people use oat based drinks instead of milk it would be advantageous to reduce the phytate content.

So, people, everything in moderation including oat milk and you will be fine.

In another study, the researchers repeated the same experiment with a total of 28 men and observed similar results to those seen in women. The exception was that there were no significant differences observed for either overnight-fasted or postprandial LDL cholesterol after consuming oat milk compared to cow’s milk. Additional analysis revealed that the oat milk group had lower levels of HDL and non-HDL cholesterol compared to dairy at all timepoints during the study period.

On average, participants in both groups consumed two additional portions of fruits and vegetables per day as well as 0.8 servings less saturated fat from red meat/dairy and more fiber overall while drinking 500 ml of oat milk instead of cow’s milk (12 grams vs. 8 grams per day).

“The major strengths of our study are the randomised design, double-blinding and high compliance,” said Räikkönen. “We were able to show that regular consumption of oat based beverage lowered LDL cholesterol when consumed over a period of eight weeks.”

Although the study was limited to one type of oat milk—oat drink—it’s possible these results may not be applicable to other types such as instant oats or porridge/oatmeal, Räikkönen added. The researchers also do not know if the observed effects would carry over to other dairy alternatives like almond, soy or rice milk. “However, this study indicates that oat beverages may be safe for consumption. Since both oat and dairy milk have similar fatty acid profiles, it is likely that the underlying mechanism responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol is related to phytate content in the beverage.”

Further research is needed on the effects of other types of oats and other types of milks with lower phytate levels before any conclusions can be drawn about a potential difference among various products, she said.

“This was an interesting study,” commented Wynn Russ , MD, an endocrinologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center who was not involved in this research. “It shows that foods have effects beyond just their nutritional value. While there are many studies out there showing the benefits of whole grains such as o or whole grains and cardiovascular disease reduction, there are also studies that show different effects in certain populations.”

“I think this study is particularly interesting because it shows the beneficial effect these foods can have on a high-risk population—in this case, women who had metabolic syndrome,” he said. “Metabolic syndrome is an independent risk factor for heart disease so any therapies that can reduce risk factors in people with this condition would be of particular interest.”

Glucan fiber in oats can lower blood cholesterol levels through a number of pathways, including

(1) slowing down glucose absorption from the gut;

(2) binding bile acids in the intestines so they cannot be reabsorbed;

(3) preventing the uptake

Summary

Oat milk is a non-dairy alternative to cows milk made from pure oats. It’s very nutritious and healthy for you, unlike regular dairy products which are highly processed, full of hormones and antibiotics. Oat milk is a healthier option than soy or almond as it is much gentler on the stomach and is naturally sweeter than almond or soy milk. I would say that oat milk would be better for you than cows milk because it’s healthier, easier to digest, and no animal cruelty is involved in its production.
It also tastes great and comes in a variety of flavors besides just plain old unsweetened!

Enjoy

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