Non-dairy milks are making a splash this year with endless cartons swarming into supermarkets, cafes, and vegan households alike.
By 2024, the global dairy alternatives market is expected to exceed the $34 billion mark, according ReportBuyer.
While almond milk is one of the fastest growing segments, health-minded buyers are growing aware of the drink’s lackluster nutritionals while eco-conscious folks are becoming increasingly concerned about its unsustainable sourcing methods.
So what’s the latest plant-based alternative in the lactose-free world?
Enter oat milk. Its core production process is similar to that of almond milk: gluten-free oats are soaked in water, pulverized in a blender and then strained to produce a subtle-tasting plant milk that can be used in anything from coffee to cereal and baking.
Sound too intimidating to make it at home? Oatly, a Swedish brand that’s been in the business for over 20 years, introduced its oat milk product to the U.S. about two years ago. Now, the tricolored cartons are popping up at your local Whole Foods stores and specialty coffee shops, introducing latte lovers to a new dairy-free delight.
So, you’re probably wondering how oat milk stacks up against its almond competitor. Let’s take a closer look.
Oat milk vs. almond milk: How they stack up
Oatly Original’s nutrition panel for a 1 cup serving is 120 calories, with 5 grams of fat, 100 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbs (2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar) and 2 grams of protein.
Compare that to Blue Diamond’s Original Almondmilk, with a 1-cup serving containing 60 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 150 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of carbs (1 gram of fiber, 7 grams of sugar) and 1 gram of protein per cup.
While oat milk typically contains a bit more fiber and protein per serving, Oatly’s calorie and fat count is double Blue Diamond’s — which is not really desirable if you’re looking to cut down on calories to lose weight.
As for micronutrients, if you’re opting for Blue Diamond’s option, you’ll get 45 percent of your daily value of bone-building calcium and 50 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin E. On the other hand, Oatly offers only 35 percent of calcium (which is still higher than your average dairy milk’s 30 percent calcium content). However, Oatly takes the cake when it comes to metabolism-maintaining vitamin B2, energizing vitamin B12, disease-preventing vitamin D and phosphorus.
Is oat milk right for you?
Convinced you should add the whole-grain-based blend to your pantry?
There’s one thing to consider before you shell out cash: Oatly’s ingredient list packs in more than just oats, water, added vitamins, and a bit of rapeseed oil. The recipe also contains acidity-regulating phosphates, which have been linked to ailments such as kidney disease.
Phosphates are a common additive in ultra-processed foods such as processed meats and fast food meals. If these foods are staples in your diet or you suffer from advanced chronic kidney disease, phosphate-containing oat milk might not be the best go-to dairy-free option for you.
However, if you generally eat a well-balanced diet, Oatly’s oat milk can certainly earn a place in your milk alternative rotation. If you’re worried about phosphates, consider giving Elmhurst’s Milked Oats a go. While its recipe isn’t enriched with vitamins like Oatly’s is, Elmhurst shuns phosphates and packs in 20 fewer calories and double the protein than Oatly's milk.
Experiment with this vegan milk by splashing it into your morning joe and adding the drink to your morning oats. (Oat overkill? We think not!) And if you’re looking for more options beyond oats and almonds, don’t miss our exclusive report on the best and worst milks and dairy milk alternatives.