Oat Milk vs. Almond Milk: Which Is Better?
Medically reviewed by Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D., Nutrition — By Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD on May 23, 2022
How to choose
Oat milk and almond milk are two popular plant-based beverages often featured in dairy-free drinks and desserts.
Not only have they started popping up in coffee shops and smoothie bars recently, but these milks have also become shopping list staples, with one review noting that sales of plant-based milks in the United States increased by 61% between 2012 and 2016 (1Trusted Source).
However, if you’re looking to swap out your milk for a dairy-free alternative, you may be wondering how oat milk and almond milk compare.
This article will take a closer look at the key similarities and differences of oat milk and almond milk, helping you determine which is best for you.
Oat milk and almond milk are similar in terms of nutrition and contain roughly the same amount of calories in each serving.
However, there are a few minor differences between the two beverages. For instance, almond milk is slightly higher in fat and calcium, whereas oat milk contains more carbohydrates and iron.
Here is a closer look at the nutritional value for 1 cup (240 mL) of unsweetened oat milk and almond milk (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source):
Oat milk Almond milk
Calories 79 59
Protein 4 grams 1 gram
Carbs 14 grams 8 grams
Fat 1.5 grams 2 grams
Fiber 2 grams 1 gram
Iron 6% of the Daily Value (DV) 2% of the DV
Sodium 5% of the DV less than 1% of the DV
Calcium 1% of the DV 15% of the DV
Keep in mind that many brands are fortified, so these brands may contain a higher amount of certain nutrients, including calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D (4Trusted Source).
Additionally, some varieties of oat milk or almond milk are flavored or contain added sugar. This may alter taste and nutrition profiles as well.
Almond milk contains slightly more fat and calcium per serving, while oat milk is higher in carbs and fiber. However, the nutritional value can vary for products that are sweetened, flavored, or fortified.
Oat milk and almond milk are both free of dairy and can be excellent additions to a vegan diet.
However, oat milk is also free of nuts, which may be an important factor to consider for people with a tree nut allergy.
On the other hand, almond milk is typically lower in carbs, which may make it a more suitable option for people on a low carb or ketogenic diet (3Trusted Source).
Additionally, unlike oat milk, some types of almond milk can be included in the paleo diet as well.
Both varieties of plant-based milk are also typically fortified with important micronutrients, such as vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin B12 (4Trusted Source).
Though often lacking in some plant-based or vegan diet plans, these nutrients play a key role in many aspects of your health (5Trusted Source).
For instance, vitamin D and calcium work together to support your bone health, increase bone mineral density, and reduce your risk of fractures (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
Meanwhile, vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient found naturally in animal products, which your body requires for DNA synthesis, nerve function, and the production of healthy red blood cells (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Almond milk and oat milk are both dairy-free and vegan. Oat milk is also nut-free. You can drink certain types of almond milk on a keto or paleo diet. Both are also often fortified with important nutrients like calcium and vitamins B12 and D.
While both oat milk and almond milk can be included in a healthy, well-rounded diet, there are a few downsides to consider for each.
Both varieties of plant-based are lower in protein than cow’s milk, which contains around 8 grams of protein per cup (237 ml) (12Trusted Source).
Protein is important for many aspects of health, including your muscle growth, tissue repair, and immune function (13Trusted Source).
Unfortified brands of plant-based milks may also be lacking in other vitamins and minerals that cow’s milk provides naturally, such as calcium (12Trusted Source).
Some types may also contain added sugar. Consuming high amounts of added sugar may be associated with chronic health conditions like heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. If you wish to keep your sugar intake low, be sure to read the label carefully (14Trusted Source).
While both types of plant-based milk are more eco-friendly than cow’s milk, almond milk requires more natural resources to produce than oat milk (15).
This is because almonds require significantly more water to grow compared to oats.
In fact, it’s estimated that the average water footprint — which is the amount of water used to produce a food product — for just one California almond is about 3.2 gallons (12 liters) (16).
Plus, according to one review, approximately 80% of the world’s almonds are produced in California, which has experienced three severe periods of drought in the past decade (17).
This may be an important consideration for eco-conscious consumers interested in minimizing their environmental impact.
Oat milk tends to have a naturally rich and creamy texture and — unlike almond milk — doesn’t usually contain additives or thickeners, such as carrageenan.
Though carrageenan is generally considered safe in moderation, some test-tube studies suggest that it may disrupt digestive health and promote gut inflammation if consumed in high amounts (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21).
Additionally, while both almond milk and oat milk are safe for children, neither should be used as a substitute for breastmilk or cow’s milk for children under two years of age, unless advised by a healthcare provider (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
Both almond and oat milk are lower in protein than cow’s milk, and unfortified varieties may be lacking in important nutrients. Certain types may also harbor added sugar, and almond milk often contains additives.
Oat milk has a naturally creamy consistency that works especially well for frothing, making it a great addition to dairy-free coffee drinks, like lattes.
Because of its carb content and natural sweetness, oat milk is often used in place of cow’s milk for baking, as it can improve the taste, texture, and color of certain baked goods.
On the other hand, unsweetened almond milk proves lower in carbs, which may be preferable for those following a low carb or ketogenic diet.
Almond milk also boasts a subtle nutty taste and thinner, more watery consistency. You may find that almond milk works well in smoothies, cereals, and savory recipes.
Oat milk has a sweeter taste, higher carb content, and creamy consistency, which works well for frothy drinks and baked goods. Almond milk has a nutty flavor and a thinner consistency, which is ideal for smoothies, cereals, and savory recipes.
How to choose
Both oat milk and almond milk can be a great addition to a healthy, well-rounded diet. Choose whichever product based on your personal preferences and how you plan to use it.
However, regardless of which type of plant-based milk you opt for, be sure to check the ingredient label and look for unsweetened and fortified varieties whenever possible.
Additionally, steer clear of oat milk or almond milk products that contain a high amount of additives, fillers, or other artificial ingredients.
Though many brands have started removing carrageenan from their products, you can still find it in some varieties of almond milk and oat milk.
More studies in humans are needed on the potential health effects of consuming carrageenan. In the meantime, you can opt for plant-based milks without carrageenan if you’d like to limit your intake.
Both oat milk and almond milk can be a nutritious addition to a plant-based diet. Ideally, you should purchase varieties that are free of added sugar and additives, fillers, or other artificial ingredients.
The bottom line
Oat milk and almond milk are two popular plant-based beverages that share several similarities in terms of their nutritional values and potential health benefits.
However, almond milk requires a higher amount of water to produce and sometimes contains additives, such as carrageenan. On the other hand, oat milk proves slightly higher in carbs and may not fit into certain diet patterns, such as keto or paleo diets.
Additionally, each may be better suited for certain types of recipes due to their differences in taste and texture.
Regardless, both can be a great addition to a healthy diet, depending on your personal needs and preferences.
Just one thing
Try this today: Almond and oat milk are easy to make at home by blending soaked almonds or oats with water and straining with a cheesecloth.
Not only does this put you in control of the ingredients, but you can also adjust the texture and flavor by experimenting with your recipe.
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