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From the grocery aisle to the local coffee shop, the variety of different "milk" choices can be a little overwhelming. While a number of plant-based dairy alternatives continue to rise in popularity, oat milk has emerged as a trendy favorite.

But, is oat milk actually good for you?

The Good

A glass of oat milk is low in fat and has zero cholesterol, making it a heart healthy option. It’s also a good alternative source of iron, which can be beneficial for people with lactose intolerance or vegan diets. Store bought oat milk is often fortified with vitamin D, vitamin A, and calcium, but these essential vitamins won't be present if you make your own oat milk at home.

“Oat milk has significantly less protein than milk or other dairy alternatives, so you likely won’t feel as full after drinking it,” says Tracee Brenner, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Holy Name Medical Center.

The Not-So-Good

Like other plant-based milk substitutes, the proteins in oat milk are incomplete, which means that unlike dairy and soy milk, it lacks some of the essential amino acids your body needs. Many store-bought brands contain added sugar to enhance flavor or oils and stabilizers to increase shelf life.

Importantly, a small number of brands have been found to contain glyphosate, a widely-used herbicide linked to a variety of health problems, or arsenic, a heavy metal linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease and childhood developmental issues.

(EPA testing detected trace amounts of glyphosate in MALK Organic Oat Milk and Silk Extra Creamy Oatmilk. When selecting an oat milk, consider EPA-certified testing results and brands certified as being “glyphosate residue-free.”)

When drinking oat milk or any other plant-based milk alternative, it’s important to pay attention to calories, added sugars, oils, gums, emulsifiers, protein, calcium and Vitamin D.

“Added sugars should be avoided and drink options low in protein should be paired with other healthy protein sources,” says Brenner. “Gums and emulsifiers can affect the gut microbiome and cause stomach distress. It's best to look for products with a simple ingredients list, such as water, salt, and oats, or make it yourself at home.”

For more information about making healthy food choices or to schedule a consultation with a Holy Name registered dietician nutritionist, call 201-227-6040 or make an appointment online.