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/ Source: TODAY
By Keri Glassman, R.D.

Remember the days when milk was just milk? You didn’t need to specify cow's milk when asking for it. Now it seems like a new “milk” is popping up every few months. The latest to hit grocery store shelves and even your local Starbucks is oat milk.

So, what exactly is oat milk?

It may sound exotic but oat milk is actually super easy to make. Got oats? You can have oat milk in a few minutes just by adding water and blending (1 cup oats with 3 cups water). That’s it. If you’re buying your plant-based milks, the most popular brands are pretty clean, with oats and water as the main ingredients and then sometimes salt and added vitamins and minerals.

Why is oat milk so popular?

It's a great vegan and nut-free milk alternative that is super creamy and blends beautifully into your morning coffee.

Health benefits of oat milk:

Oats are an incredibly nutritious cereal grain, and oat milk can be a healthy plant-based milk choice. It all depends on the brand and variety, so you’ll have to read ingredient lists carefully. In general, oat milk usually contains three to four grams of protein per serving. That’s a lot less than soy milk but significantly more than almond milk. While oats are high in fiber, they lose some of it when being processed into milk, so you end up with about two grams, which is pretty much equal to what you’d get in soy or almond.

You’ll almost always get a small dose of important minerals like calcium and iron, and some brands, like crowd-favorite Oatly, also fortify the beverage with vitamins like D and A.

When reviewing the nutritional label of a brand of oat milk, pay close attention to the sugar content. Oatly doesn’t add sugar to the original, but it clocks in at seven grams of sugar per serving from the oats. Elmhurst Milked’s version has five grams per serving, but it’s almost all added sugar. Pacific Foods’ oat milk, meanwhile, contains a whopping 17 grams per serving.

Another thing to look out for: Most brands don’t use organic oats. If you’re gluten-free, you should also look for the term on the packaging. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but are often processed in facilities that lead to cross contamination. So, if you’re looking for a new delicious milk alternative that finally replaces cow's milk, oat milk may be for you. Just remember to choose a brand with a simple ingredient list, and check the sugar content. Avoid flavored versions to steer clear of added sugar and try to buy organic if it’s available.

For more info on how to live a nutritious life, follow @nutritiouslifeofficial on Instagram.