- Culinary uses of oat milk
- Purchasing - storage
- Ingredients - nutritional values - calories
- Nutrient tables
- Health effects
- Ecological footprint - animal welfare
- Worldwide occurrence - cultivation
- Additional information
Oat milk (known as oat drink in Europe) is made from ground oats (Avena sativa) or oat flakes. This purely plant-based milk is a healthy, lactose-free milk substitute, albeit very rarely raw.
The slightly sweet, mildly grain-like tasting oat milk is used in cold and (luke)warm dishes. Especially vegans, ovo-vegetarians or people with lactose intolerance enjoy using this grain drink. If you completely avoid heating in all production steps, you can consider oat milk as raw food. This is very rarely the case (see also below section "How to make oat milk").
The taste is more neutral than almond milk or soy milk; Rice milk tastes sweeter.
Oat drink is suitable for muesli, oatmeal, semolina pudding, rice pudding and smoothies, pancakes or other sweet dishes. Hearty dishes such as potato gratin or vegetable casserole can also be refined with a béchamel sauce made from oat milk.
Oat milk is easy to froth, so baristas also like it for use in cappuccino.
Oat milk can be processed into products such as oat cream, crème fraîche substitute (oat fraiche) or spread.
How to make oat milk
You can also make your own raw, unheated, and unprocessed oat milk. Caution: This unheated oat milk is only really raw if you work with oat flakes of raw food quality. Raw oat flakes are quite difficult to obtain because almost all the oat flakes sold in stores are kilned (heated) to increase their shelf life. Therefore, despite what the sales staff claims, these oatmeals are not raw. If you want to know more about it, read the ingredient text Oatmeal (raw?, organic?).
Ingredients: To make 1 liter oat milk or oat drink you need 80-120 g of whole grain oat flakes (if possible raw and organic), 1 liter of drinking water, a good blender (stand mixer or immersion blender), a suitable container and a filter (thin-mesh sieve or a straining cloth or nut milk bag).
- Soaking (optional): The first step is to soak the oat flakes in enough water to facilitate blending. The soaking time can be between 3 and 12 hours (overnight). The longer you soak the flakes, the easier will be the subsequent processing. If you have a powerful blender, you can skip this step.
- Mixing: You can either sieve the soaked oatmeal and add it to the blender with fresh water, or use the soaking water directly. Only add part of the water at the beginning. Then chop the flakes well in the blender and gradually add more water.
- Filtration (optional): If you have a good blender and if small oat residues do not bother you, you can transfer the oat drink directly into the container. Otherwise, use a filter of your choice. With very "fine-meshed" filters, however, the taste somewhat decreases.
- Filling and storage: Pour the oat milk into a glass container and seal tightly. The oat milk will keep in the fridge for 3–4 days.
Notes: If you skip the soaking step, you can make the oat milk fresh every time (in smaller portions). To sweeten and refine the taste, you can add pitted dates (3-5 pieces), vanilla or cinnamon powder directly during the mixing process.
Vegan recipe for Béchamel Sauce made from Oat Milk
Ingredients: 100 g margarine, 4 tbsp wheat flour, 1 liter oat milk (organic), salt, pepper, grated nutmeg.
Procedure: Melt the margarine in a saucepan, add the flour and stir well for a few seconds until the fat and flour are well combined. Pour in some of the oat milk and simmer while stirring constantly. Keep adding a little milk until the roux combines well with the milk. You can reduce the heat a bit. After adding all the oat milk, stir till the sauce has thickened. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, and grated nutmeg.
Vegan recipe for Berry Smoothie with Oat Milk
Wash 2 handfuls of berries (e.g., mulberries, blueberries) well, remove the stalks and mix finely with 250 ml oat milk. Pour into glasses and enjoy.
To find vegan recipes with oat milk follow the reference: "Recipes that have the most of this ingredient".
|Not only vegans and vegetarians should read this: |
A Vegan Diet Can Be Unhealthy. Nutrition Mistakes.
Oat milk or oat drinks are now available from most supermarket chains such as Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods Market, Target, Albertsons and Safeway (United States); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, and Holland & Barret (Great Britain); Metro, Extra Foods, Real Canadian Superstore and Goodness Me (Canada); and Coles, Woolworths, and Harris Farm (Australia). Most supermarkets also have organically certified oat milk in their range. These can also be found in health food stores, drugstores, organic shops and organic supermarkets, and, of course, in online stores. Oat drinks are usually available in natural, calcium, vanilla or chocolate flavored forms. Some are also available mixed with other plant-based drinks; e.g. mixed with almond milk.
Which oat milk is good? It is not easy to answer this question as there are so many to choose from. The best thing to do is try different milk substitute products and decide based on taste. We recommend paying attention to organic quality and fewer additives.
Organic oat milk sometimes contains calcium from the calcium-rich seaweed Lithothamnium calcareum, conventional oat milk is often fortified with calcium carbonate.
The term "milk" is not an accurate term because oat milk is a milk substitute. In the EU, it is sold as oat drink because the term "milk" is reserved exclusively for the product of normal udder secretion obtained through one or more milkings, without any addition.1
Store bought oat drinks are usually heated to an ultra-high temperature (UHT) and therefore last for several months if unopened. After opening, however, they should be stored in the refrigerator like a fresh product and consumed within a few days. Before use, oat milk should always be shaken well so that the cloudy matter that has settled can be evenly distributed.
Oat milk contains 39 kcal per 100 g. The fat content is very low at 1.4%, as is the protein content at 0.6%. Carbohydrates are about 6.3%.
Oat milk is not particularly high in essential nutrients. At 0.3 mg/100g, manganese is not very well represented; maize semolina, raisins and wild garlic have similar values. As a trace element, manganese is important for building healthy cartilage tissue.2 Vegans often get their manganese needs from seeds and nuts, and from oatmeal (3.6 mg/100g).
Oat milk does not naturally contain a lot of calcium. We have put together ingredients that contain a lot of calcium for you here (in German).
B vitamins are present in oat milk, but not in abundance: e.g., the water-soluble thiamine (vitamin B1) at 0.1 mg/100g. Hazelnut milk and rice syrup have similar values. Significantly more amount of thiamine can be found in linseed (1.6 mg). This B vitamin is found primarily in the outer layers of grains and is responsible for energy metabolism and the nervous system.2 Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is also found in oat milk at 0.1 mg/100g, similar to coconut flour and panko. Amaranth (0.59 mg), for example, has much more vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is involved in many enzymatic reactions and plays an important role in protein metabolism.2
There is significantly less amount of other vitamins such as vitamin K and vitamin E.
Oat milk also contains sodium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron in small amounts.
You can find the total ingredients of oat milk, the coverage of the daily requirement and comparison values with other ingredients in the nutrient tables below.
|Saturated Fats||0.20 g|
|Carbohydrates (inc.dietary fiber)||6.3 g|
|Cooking Salt (Na:52.0 mg)||132 mg|
|Essential micronutrients with the highest proportions||per 100g||2000 kcal|
|Min||Manganese, Mn||0.30 mg|
|Vit||Thiamine (vitamin B1)||0.10 mg|
|Vit||Vitamin K||5.5 µg|
|Sodium, Na||52 mg|
|Vit||Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)||0.10 mg|
|Fat||Linoleic acid; LA; 18:2 omega-6||0.64 g|
|Elem||Phosphorus, P||38 mg|
|Min||Iron, Fe||0.60 mg|
|Elem||Magnesium, Mg||15 mg|
|Min||Zinc, Zn||0.40 mg|
Detailed micronutrients and daily requirement coverage per 100g
The majority of the nutritional information comes from the USDA (US Department of Agriculture). This means that the information for natural products is often incomplete or only given within broader categories, whereas in most cases products made from these have more complete information displayed.
If we take flaxseed, for example, the important essential amino acid ALA (omega-3) is only included in an overarching category whereas for flaxseed oil ALA is listed specifically. In time, we will be able to change this, but it will require a lot of work. An “i” appears behind ingredients that have been adjusted and an explanation appears when you hover over this symbol.
For Erb Muesli, the original calculations resulted in 48 % of the daily requirement of ALA — but with the correction, we see that the muesli actually covers >100 % of the necessary recommendation for the omega-3 fatty acid ALA. Our goal is to eventually be able to compare the nutritional value of our recipes with those that are used in conventional western lifestyles.
How healthy is oat milk? Oat milk is very popular with people with lactose intolerance, milk protein allergies or soy allergies. It is a common substitute for cow's milk for vegans and ovo-vegetarians.
The beta-glucans (insoluble fiber) contained in oats reduce the cholesterol content in the blood because they bind with the bile acids and cholesterol in the intestine. In addition, these dietary fibers bind a large amount of water due to their high swelling capacity, which promotes digestion and strengthens the immune system. The complex carbohydrates regulate and normalize blood sugar levels and improve satiety.3
Dangers - intolerances - side effects
Oats are not gluten-free, but some adults with celiac disease can tolerate the gluten protein "avenin" better. Most oat products are contaminated with cereals containing gluten (wheat, barley, spelt wheat), which do not have to be labeled according to the food laws. There are gluten-free oats (GF oats) that have impurities below 20 ppm, but have normal levels of avenin. If you don't have any problems with this, you can rely on the gluten-free symbol (the crossed-out ear of corn). However, each person must try it out for themselves under medical supervision to determine whether they can tolerate the avenin.4
Industrial oat milk is almost always UHT for longer shelf life. They are often found mixed with sugar, calcium, emulsifiers, stabilizers or other additives. Oat milk is almost always enriched with sunflower oil and in 2019 tests found that the products contained phosphates.
To ensure that there are no unnecessary additives, it is best to make oat milk yourself.
Plant-based milk is not only a practical alternative to animal milk considering the health benefits, it is also much more environmentally friendly and, of course, gentler on animals. Oat milk in particular has a low ecological footprint, assuming that it is grown and processed regionally (resulting in shorter transport routes). Even if the land use of oat milk is slightly higher than that of other plant-based drinks, the fresh water consumption (around 48 liters per 1 liter of oat milk) is significantly lower than that of almond milk (around 371 liters), rice milk (270 liters), or cow's milk (628 liters).8 Oat milk also has the lowest impact, compared to other plant-based milks, on other factors such as eutrophication potential of freshwater and aquatic systems, and toxicity to terrestrial and freshwater habitats. All plant-based milks have a lower ecological footprint than cow's milk.9
A study in Germany indicated that the production of oat milk has a carbon footprint of 0.3 kg CO2 eq/kg and that of cow milk is 1.4 kg CO2 eq/kg.10 Figures collected in other parts of the world may vary.8, 9
Oats are often found in Europe in organic quality, with no synthetic pesticides and chemicals being used. This is particularly good for pollinating insects, and it is also gentler on the ecosystem in general. The Swedish company Oatly had commissioned the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK) to carry out a life cycle assessment. They concluded that oat milk has about 70% less harmful effects on the climate and consumes less energy (about 40%) than semi-skimmed cow's milk. In addition, you need about 80% less land.7
The method of making oat milk was first developed in the 1990s. This method was developed by the Swedish professor Rickard Öste at the University of Lund as a solution for issues such as lactose intolerance. Professor Rickard Öste and his brother Björn Öste founded the company Oatly.5
To be able to further process the oat grains, they have to be dehusked. In industrial production, the grains are mixed with water and ground very finely. Sometimes the grains are fermentation. The mass is then homogenized, and the solid components are filtered out. These filter residues (e.g., bran) can still be used for consumption or animal feed. Vegetable oil emulsifies the aqueous extract and the drink takes on a typical milky color. Depending on taste, sweeteners, table salt and other flavors are added. Other preservatives, thickeners, acidifiers, vitamins (e.g., B12) and minerals (calcium) are also in added here. Ultra-high heating completes the process, and the oat milk can be kept for a long time without refrigeration.6
Among the plant-based drinks that are used in the kitchen as a milk substitute (plant-based alternative) are the three well-known ones: almond milk, rice milk and soy milk. But tasty drinks can also be made from hazelnuts, coconut meat, hemp seeds, millet, lupins or peas (yellow split peas).
Which milk substitute is the healthiest? For many, oat milk is the best milk substitute from a taste and sustainability point of view.
Oat milk is also known as oat drink. In English it is oatmilk. They are sometimes called ‘milked oats’, but is a registered trademark of Elmhurst.
Many researchers do not believe that Wikipedia is an authoritative source. One reason for this is that the information about literature cited and authors is often missing or unreliable. Our pictograms for nutritional values provide also information on calories (kcal).
|1.||Verordnung (EU) Nr. 1308/2013 des Europäischen Parlaments und des Rates vom 17. Dezember 2013 (Anhang VII).|
|2.||USDA United States Department of Agriculture.|
|3.||Fet-ev.eu Fachgesellschaft für Ernährungstherapie und Prävention. Beta-Glucane - Ballaststoffe mit besonderen Wirkungen. 2017.|
|4.||IG Zöliakie der Deutschen Schweiz. Hafer in der glutenfreien Ernährung. Juni 2018.|
|5.||Oatly.com The oatly way.|
Mäkinen OE, Wanhalinna V, Zannini E, Arendt EK. Foods for Special Dietary Needs: Non-dairy Plant-based Milk Substitutes and Fermented Dairy-type Products. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2015;56(3): 339–349.
|7.||Albert-Schweitzer-Stiftung.de Ökobilanz Pflanzenmilch.|
|8.||Ourworldindata.org Dairy vs. plant-based milk: what are the environmental impacts? 2022.|
|9.||Geburt K, Albrecht EH, Pointke M, Pawelzik E, Gerken M, Traulsen I. A Comparative Analysis of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives Part 2: Environmental Impacts. Sustainability 14. 2022.|
Reinhardt G, Gärtner S, Wagner T. Ökologische Fussabdrücke von Lebensmitteln und Gerichten in Deutschland. Institut für Energie - und Umweltforschung Heidelberg. 2020.