Are you a fan of oat milk?
It’s a delicious and nutritious alternative to dairy milk, and it’s becoming increasingly popular among vegans and non-vegans alike.
But if you’re someone who struggles with anemia or iron deficiency, you may be wondering if oat milk could be inhibiting your body’s ability to absorb this essential nutrient.
In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between oat milk and iron absorption, and provide you with some tips on how to maximize your iron intake.
So grab a glass of oat milk (or your favorite iron-rich beverage) and let’s dive in!
Does Oat Milk Inhibit Iron Absorption?
The good news is that oat milk does not inhibit iron absorption. In fact, some newer varieties of oat milk are fortified with iron, providing you with even more of the mineral.
While oat milk is a great option for those looking to increase their iron intake, it’s important to consider other factors that can inhibit nonheme iron absorption.
Phytates and fiber are found in foods such as whole grains, soy, nuts, and legumes, and can decrease the amount of nonheme iron that is absorbed from a meal. However, it’s important to note that some foods high in phytates, such as oatmeal, are still good sources of nonheme iron.
Oxalates are common, naturally-occurring food chemicals found in numerous food sources such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains, and black tea. They may inhibit the body’s iron absorption by combining with iron to form a compound called iron oxide. While some research suggests that certain oxalate-containing foods may have minimal effect on nonheme iron absorption, there is no harm in pairing these healthy foods with nonheme enhancing foods.
Calcium and phosphorous can significantly impact iron absorption. Try to increase the amount of time between your calcium- and phosphorous-rich snacks (e.g. milk, yogurt, or cheese) and your nonheme foods. In order to maximize the benefits of calcium-rich and iron-rich foods, consider having a glass of milk a couple of hours before or after your nonheme meal.
Tannins and polyphenols are biological compounds present in tea and coffee that can have an inhibitory effect on iron absorption. These compounds can bind with iron, therefore making nonheme iron insoluble. While research suggests that certain beverages and foods rich in polyphenols may not significantly reduce iron absorption, if you are iron deficient, be sure to leave a couple of hours between your nonheme iron-rich lunch and your afternoon tea.
Excess intake of other minerals can inhibit nonheme iron absorption. Like iron – zinc, calcium, magnesium, and copper are also positively charged. This means that these minerals compete for the same binding sites as iron and may prevent it from binding and being absorbed. If you take multivitamins, which are often high in these positively charged minerals, be sure to take them hours apart from meal time.
The Nutritional Benefits Of Oat Milk
Oat milk has become a popular alternative to cow’s milk due to its unique taste and texture. But beyond its flavor profile, oat milk also offers several nutritional benefits.
One cup of oat milk contains around 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, making it a good source of both nutrients. Additionally, oat milk is often fortified with vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin B12, and riboflavin, which are important for maintaining overall health.
Compared to cow’s milk, oat milk is higher in calcium, with one cup providing 36% of the daily recommended value. It’s also higher in vitamin A, with 10% of the daily value, which is twice the amount found in cow’s milk. Vitamin A is important for bone, nail, skin, and eye health.
Oat milk is also a good source of iron. One cup provides 10% of the recommended daily value for this essential mineral. Iron is important for red blood cells to transport oxygen to your body’s tissues. Iron-rich foods can prevent excessive fatigue and shortness of breath caused by iron-deficiency anemia.
Oats themselves are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals like folate, magnesium, vitamin B, thiamin, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. Fortunately, these vitamins and nutrients are also extracted from oats when making oat milk.
Understanding Iron Absorption
Iron is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the body’s overall health. It is responsible for the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. However, not all iron is created equal. There are two types of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is found in animal products and is more easily absorbed by the body, while nonheme iron is found in plant-based foods and is less easily absorbed.
Nonheme iron absorption can be inhibited by various factors, including phytates, oxalates, calcium and phosphorous, tannins and polyphenols, excess intake of other minerals, and low stomach acid. Phytates and fiber, which are found in foods such as whole grains, soy, nuts, and legumes, can decrease the amount of nonheme iron that is absorbed from a meal. Oxalates are common food chemicals found in numerous food sources such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains, and black tea that may inhibit the body’s iron absorption by combining with iron to form a compound called iron oxide.
Calcium and phosphorous can also significantly impact iron absorption. Tannins and polyphenols are biological compounds present in tea and coffee that can have an inhibitory effect on iron absorption by binding with iron and making nonheme iron insoluble. Excess intake of other minerals like zinc, calcium, magnesium, and copper can also compete for the same binding sites as iron and prevent it from being absorbed.
It’s important to note that while some foods may inhibit nonheme iron absorption, there are also foods that enhance it. For example, vitamin C can help the body absorb nonheme iron better. Therefore, pairing nonheme iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits or bell peppers can enhance absorption.
The Effect Of Phytic Acid On Iron Absorption
Phytic acid is a compound found in many plant-based foods, including whole grains, nuts, and legumes. It has been shown to inhibit the absorption of nonheme iron, which is the type of iron found in plant-based foods.
Studies have shown that oat bran and oat porridge, which are high in phytic acid, can significantly inhibit the absorption of nonheme iron. This is because phytic acid can interfere with the absorption of nonheme iron by binding to it and preventing it from being absorbed by the body.
However, it is important to note that not all foods high in phytic acid will have the same inhibitory effect on nonheme iron absorption. Some foods high in phytic acid, such as oatmeal, are still good sources of nonheme iron.
To reduce the inhibitory effect of phytic acid on nonheme iron absorption, it is recommended to soak or sprout grains, nuts, and legumes before consuming them. This process can help to break down phytic acid and increase the bioavailability of nonheme iron.
Does Oat Milk Contain Phytic Acid?
Oats, like other grains, contain phytic acid, which is found in the bran. Phytic acid is considered an “anti-nutrient” because it can inhibit the absorption of certain minerals like zinc and iron. However, it’s important to note that most of the phytic acid is removed during the process of making oat milk. The insoluble bran part of the oats is separated, which removes most of the phytic acid.
If you are still concerned about phytic acid in your oat milk, you can soak your oats overnight before making oat milk. Soaking oats increases their digestibility and reduces the amount of phytic acid they contain. This enables the nutrients found in the grain to be better absorbed by your body. Additionally, rinsing and draining the oats after soaking can further reduce their phytic acid content.
Studies On Oat Milk And Iron Absorption
Studies have shown that oat milk does not inhibit iron absorption. In fact, some newer varieties of oat milk are fortified with iron, providing you with even more of the mineral. One glass of oat milk contains enough iron to boost your daily iron intake. Therefore, oat milk can be a great option for those looking to increase their iron intake.
However, it’s important to note that while oat milk does not inhibit iron absorption, there are other factors that can decrease the amount of nonheme iron that is absorbed from a meal. These factors include phytates, fiber, oxalates, calcium, phosphorous, tannins, polyphenols, and excess intake of other minerals.
Tips For Maximizing Iron Absorption With Oat Milk
If you’re looking to maximize iron absorption while consuming oat milk, there are a few tips to keep in mind.
Firstly, choose an oat milk that is fortified with iron. This will provide you with an additional source of nonheme iron.
Secondly, pair your oat milk with vitamin C-rich foods during your meals. Vitamin C helps to increase the absorption of nonheme iron, so try adding some citrus fruits or bell peppers to your oatmeal or smoothie.
Thirdly, avoid consuming calcium-rich foods or supplements at the same time as your oat milk. Calcium can inhibit nonheme iron absorption, so it’s best to separate these two nutrients by a few hours.
Lastly, be mindful of the phytate and fiber content of your meal. While oat milk itself does not contain phytates or fiber, they may be present in other foods you consume alongside it. To minimize their inhibitory effect on nonheme iron absorption, try soaking and cooking grains and legumes before consuming them.
By following these tips, you can ensure that you’re maximizing your iron absorption while still enjoying the benefits of oat milk.