Published on 13 September 2023

    Oat milk is a popular dairy alternative you can find on the shelves, but is it really better for you? We seek the expert opinion of a dietitian.

    The popularity of oat milk has soared in recent years – in Singapore, oat milk is offered as an alternative to dairy milk at most cafes, and even at some hawker centres!

    But before you dump your dairy milk and jump on the oat milk bandwagon, there are some considerations.

    According to National University Polyclinics (NUP) dietitian, Ms Iliyana Sarib, it is important to note the nutritional value of oat milk before purchasing it.“There are many brands that have emerged so people are often comparing its flavours and taste rather than its nutrition content,” she said. “The creamy texture and nice mouthfeel are main reasons why people opt for oat milk. However, one should consider the nutrients that the milk can provide so as to benefit their diet.“Ideally, oat milk should be fortified with calcium, as the main purpose of including dairy in diet is to obtain calcium.”“Flavoured (oat milk) options do contain more sugar, and some brands may include oils, gums and stabilisers. Choose unflavoured options and stick to brands with a simple ingredient list. The benefits of cow’s milk Common misconceptions ISCOW'SMILK FOR YOU? BAD Cow’s milk is full of sugar.Sugar contained in cow's milk is naturally-occurring called     lactose. Dairy is bad for your skin.There are   no conclusive studies  that prove the link. Dairy is unhealthy as it is fattening.Opt for low fat, skimmed options as these are   lower in saturated fat , while providing calcium and other nutrients which are needed in a healthy diet. Plant-based milk is better than cow milk. Plant-based milk is  lower in calories and fat  but also    lower in nutritional value compared to cow’s milk. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Cow      oat      soy milk   vs    vs    Taste Sustainability  ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••• Nutrition •••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Environmentallyfriendly An eco-friendly championFewer resources, such as land and water, to produce. COW’S MILK OAT MILK SOYMILK Fewer resources, such as land and water, to produce. Leaves the largest carbon footprint 7 essential nutrients Protein, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Phosphorus, Vitamin B 12, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Niacin, Zinc, Iodine, Selenium and Potassium 13 essential nutrients Nutritional powerhouseProvides main source of dietary calcium, vitamin D and other minerals critical to bone health. Packed with essential amino acids for growth. Heart-healthy and waistline-friendlyNaturally low in fat and cholesterol. A good source of dietary fiber and iron. 5 essential nutrients Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Riboflavin and Iron Calcium, Vitamin D, Phosphorus, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Protein, Vitamin A, Niacin and Pantothenic Acid Ideal for vegansand those with lactose intoleranceExcellent source of plant-based proteins. Rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 SmoothSubtly sweet Surprisingly satisfying Delicate Slightly nutty Mildly sweet Creamy Familiar Rich

    Calcium is just one of the important nutrients in cow’s milk, along with protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D and phosphorus.

    Adults aged 19 to 50 years old have a daily calcium requirement of 800mg, whereas those 51 years and above should aim for 1000mg of calcium.

    Therefore, including 1 serving of high calcium milk is an easy way to obtain the calcium needed to meet your daily nutritional requirements.

    “The quantity and quality of proteins in cow’s milk is high as it contains all nine essential amino acids,” said Ms Sarib. “As such, it is a preferred dairy source if one is able to tolerate it.”

    In contrast, oat milk typically contains lower levels of protein and calcium, and is therefore not suitable for individuals with higher nutritional requirements, such as children.

    Should oat milk be avoided?

    While oat milk might not boast as much calcium and protein as cow’s milk, it does have its benefits.

    “Oat milk may be suitable for people who are intolerant to dairy due to lactose. Those with other dietary restrictions and food sensitivities such as nut, soy and gluten can also substitute cow’s milk with oat milk,” explained Ms Sarib. 

    “Oat milk is also overall lower in calories and saturated fat as compared to cow’s milk, and contains more fibre per serving (around 2g fibre per serving) as compared to other milk varieties since it is derived from oats.

    “However, it is important for patients with diabetes who are keen to drink oat milk to choose the unflavoured options. Flavoured options would contain more refined sugars, which will contribute to a spike in their blood sugar levels.”

    Other plant-based milks

    Alternatively, one can turn to soy milk as an alternative to dairy. Soy milk has the nutritional profile closest to cow’s milk as compared to almond, rice and coconut milk. 

    “Soy is a good source of carbohydrate, plant protein and vitamin B. Soy milk can also be fortified with vitamins and minerals including calcium,” explained Ms Sarib. 

    Beyond milk, however, Ms Sarib stressed that a healthy balanced diet is also important to obtain adequate calcium intake. 

    “Calcium is not limited to dairy but can also be obtained from other high calcium food options such as green leafy vegetables, high calcium tofu, and sardines (with bones) making up a healthy balanced diet.”

    Click here to find out more or to join us as a dietitian.

    In consultation with Ms Iliyana Sarib, Dietitian, NUP.

    Download the full infographics here.

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