People who do not eat gluten should know all the facts before trying this drink.
Oat milk is another popular alternative to whole milk
A few years ago, soy milk was one of the few non-dairy milk options on the market. These days, I can’t keep up with all the plant-based milk options at the grocery store.
Oat milk is the latest trendy addition to the non-dairy milk craze. People don’t seem to get enough oat milk, whether it’s in lattes or ice cream. It could be because oat milk tastes pretty close to the real thing. It’s thick and creamy and has a hint of natural sweetness, just like whole milk.
But it’s 100 percent plant-based, nut-free, and soy-free.
While oat milk can be an excellent alternative for plant-based gourmets and those with food allergies and sensitivities, it may not be the best choice for those following a gluten-free diet.
Keep reading to find out why.
What is oat milk?
Most oat milk is made by adding oatmeal to water, mixing the mixture, and then straining the pulp. The result is a non-dairy liquid with a natural sweetness and creamy texture.
Packaged oat milk usually contains a few more ingredients, such as added vitamins and minerals, flavors and sometimes stabilizers, gums, preservatives and sugar.
What is the nutritional value of oat milk?
Most oat milks are dairy-free, nut-free and soy-free, but the nutritional value of oat milk varies considerably depending on the product. For example, some oat milks have added oils and sugars that dramatically increase the fat and carbohydrate content of the product.
Others are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin D, which we would normally find in a standard glass of milk.
One cup (240 ml) of generic unsweetened and fortified oat milk contains the following nutrients:
Egg white: 3 grams
Total fat: 7 grams (9 percent of your daily value DV)
Saturated fat: 0.5 grams
Total carbohydrates: 16 grams (6 percent RDI)
Total Fiber: 1.9 grams (7 percent RDI)
Calcium: 350 mg (25 percent RDA)
Iron: 0.3 mg (2 percent RDA)
Phosphorus: 269 mg (20 percent RDA)
Potassium: 389 mg (8 percent RDA)
Sodium: 101 mg (4 percent RDA)
Riboflavin: 0.6 mg (45 percent RDA)
Vitamin b12: 1.2 micrograms (50 percent RDA)
In general, most oat milks contain about the same number of calories as whole milk. However, oat milk has a slightly higher carbohydrate content and slightly less protein. But, unlike whole milk, oat milk has more fiber and little to no saturated fat, making it a great heart-healthy alternative to whole cow’s milk.
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What you need to know about gluten
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other derivatives of these grains. It gives dough its elasticity and helps bind foods together, making it a common food additive in processed foods such as spices.
The popularity of gluten-free diets has skyrocketed in recent years. People are embracing this diet trend to help with weight loss, digestive issues, autoimmune disorders, hormonal imbalances, and even acne.
However, going gluten-free isn’t exactly the cure people imagine. Yes, some people benefit from following a gluten-free diet, but certainly not everyone.
For example, people with celiac disease must follow a lifelong, strict gluten-free diet, a report in Nature reviews. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the ingestion of gluten triggers the immune system to attack the small intestine, where the body absorbs gluten and other nutrients. This damages the absorbent cells of the small intestine, leading to serious health problems over time, including malnutrition, impaired growth and development in children, bone weakening, infertility and miscarriage, cancer, seizures and nerve damage.
Interesting, preliminary research in the journal Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology and Diabetes suggests that people with other autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism may also benefit from following a gluten-free diet.
A wheat allergy is an immune response to one of the hundreds of proteins found in wheat (not just gluten). People with wheat allergies produce a specific type of immune protein in response to ingesting wheat called immunoglobulin E (IgE). This allergic reaction comes on quickly and can cause many symptoms, including nausea, abdominal pain, itching, swelling of the lips and tongue, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction).
A person with a wheat allergy should avoid any form of wheat, but will have no problems tolerating gluten from non-wheat sources, such as barley, for example.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) or gluten sensitivity is considered a medical condition but is not well defined.
It is not an IgE or an autoimmune response. There are no tests or biomarkers to identify NCGS. Gluten sensitivity is diagnosed after ruling out celiac disease and wheat allergy or other possible causes of symptoms, and if there is improvement after following a gluten-free diet.
People with NCGS may see an improvement in symptoms on a gluten-free diet, but usually don’t need to follow a strict gluten-free diet, as people with celiac disease should.
The verdict is unknown when it comes to gluten and other health issues like IBS, acne and obesity, so speak with a dietitian to help you navigate the wild world of gluten-free diets before committing to this elimination diet.
Is oat milk gluten free?
If you fall into any of the above categories — celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity — it’s important to be aware that not all oat milks are gluten-free.
Oats are naturally gluten-free, but are often contaminated with gluten because they are usually processed in the same facility and equipment as other grains containing gluten. (Here are other foods with gluten that will surprise you.)
Unfortunately, it’s hard to know exactly how much gluten is in your average oat product. Most commercially available oats do not test to see if they contain gluten.
There is some insight into the gluten content of oats from a review study in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology that most oats in North America and Europe contain more than the recommended 20 parts per million (ppm) to be considered gluten-free.
That said, people with celiac disease and wheat allergies should be especially careful about consuming oat products like oat milk, as they’re likely to contain traces of gluten, too.
What are the best gluten-free oat milk options?
Fortunately, many companies and facilities that make oat milk are aware of the problem of gluten and oat cross-contamination and are making certified gluten-free products.
Here are a few of my favorite gluten-free oat milk brands;
Oatly is the first major oat milk to hit the market and remains one of the most popular oat milks out there. Based on their website, they only make their oat milk with certified gluten-free oats. All of their U.S. products are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).
Planet Oat, Elmhurst and Califia Farms
Planet Oat, Elmhurst and Califia Farms also make oat milk from gluten-free oats, but according to their official websites, these claims are not certified by a third party.
These options can be a good choice for people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity or those who have less severe reactions to gluten and don’t have to worry about cross-contamination.
People with celiac disease should stick with Oatly, as it is the only brand certified gluten-free by a third-party tester.
What it comes down to:
Oat milk is a tasty and nutritious plant-based alternative to cow’s milk. It’s a great option for people who want a creamy, non-dairy option or have food allergies and intolerances to dairy and nuts.
Although oats are naturally gluten-free, there is a high risk of gluten cross-contamination. Therefore, people with celiac disease and wheat allergies should opt for certified gluten-free oat milk products to avoid health problems associated with cross-contamination of gluten in oats.
Depending on the individual, people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be less sensitive to cross-contamination and may tolerate oat milk from non-certified gluten-free oats.