Oat Milk Health Benefits
I’ve been on a bit of a health kick lately, which means I’ve been eating a lot of oatmeal from my handy canister of rolled oats. Oats are an extremely versatile, multi-purpose grain and their numerous health benefits mean that it’s probably a good idea to keep a canister on hand in the pantry at all times- and not just for oatmeal. Oat milk is a great low-fat, low-cholesterol, high fiber substitute for normal milk in your diet that can be easily made from oats, water and a few other ingredients if desired.
Types of Oats:
Oats come in a couple of different varieties: rolled oats, oat groats and steel-cut oats. Rolled oats are my personal favorite because they cook quickly, but while they still have many health benefits, they also have the most processing out of the various types. They’ve had the hard outer shell of the oat kernel stripped off, and the kernel has been flattened and lightly toasted. Oat groats are more commonly used for animal feed, but can be found in various health stores. They are oats with the kernel shell still intact, and steel-cut oats are oat groats that have been chopped into smaller pieces by steel. Any of the types of oats can be used to make oat milk, although oat groats are the most common since they take longer to absorb water in the soaking or cooking process.
Removal of Hull, Flattened, Toasted
Health Benefits of Oats and Oat Milk:
Oats are packed with phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are not nutrients, but are naturally found plant chemicals with disease fighting and disease protection abilities. Oats score about 2308 on the ORAC scale, which measures a food’s ability to absorb free radicals (or possible disease causing agents). Free radicals are believed to help contribute to age-related disease and illnesses, and eating foods that score high on the ORAC scale will help to eliminate them and may even help you age better overall. Oat milk is a great way to get phytochemicals into recipes that call for milk just by substituting oat milk for dairy milk.
Beyond the powerful phytochemicals, Oats- and by association- Oat milk contains many essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamin E, B-Vitamins, Iron and Protein are the most concentrated, but Oat milk also contains plenty of insoluble and soluble fibers that help in digestion. Both types of fibers are important for a healthy digestive system, and oat milk contains an equal amount of both. The protein in oats and oat milk is nearly equal to that of soy, and research from the World Health Organization says that the protein in soy is equal to meat, milk and eggs. Oat milk is a great way for those with soy or dairy allergies or those with vegetarian or vegan diets to get their necessary proteins and nutrients.
Oat milk’s impressive array of health benefits doesn’t stop there- Oat milk is believed to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, and also reduce the risk of heart disease. In summary, oat milk can fight disease, aid in aging, provide necessary vitamins and minerals, keep your digestive system running smoothly, lower bad cholesterol, and keep your heart healthy!
Oat Milk Recipes:
Oat milk is very easy to make, but can also be readily bought at health food stores and some major grocery chains. My favorite oat milk recipe can be found here. If you prefer the nuttier taste of oat milk without any additional spices, you can simmer 1 cup of oats per 5 cups of hot water covered for an hour before straining and then storing in the refrigerator. Oat milk keeps for about a week in the fridge and can be used in cereals, smoothies and many other recipes that call for normal milk. To make oat milk taste more like soy milk, you can add a teaspoon of vanilla extract or other flavors as per your tastes.
It is important to note that oat milk prepared at home is not gluten-free, but that there are brands of store-bought oat milk that are gluten-free.