Oat Milk vs. Almond Milk: Which One's Better for You?

Oat milk vs. almond milk

If you're a non-dairy milk drinker, you probably know that there are a lot of choices out there, and it can be overwhelming to know what to choose. Maybe you’ve tried a bunch of them and narrowed down your favorites to almond milk and oat milk—and, then your next question may be: Which one is healthier?

Nutrition experts say both oat milk and almond milk offer nutritional benefits. “Both unsweetened oat and almond milks are excellent plant-based milk alternatives, with minor differences between them,” says Caroline Cederquist, MD, a board-certified bariatric physician and chief medical officer at bistroMD. “Therefore, I recommend selecting the one that best meets your dietary needs.”

For example, almond milk may be best if you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, while oat milk is better for those with nut allergies, she says.

While traditional dairy milk is still the top choice for most people, almond, oat and other types of plant-based milk are more popular than ever. The plant-based milk market grew by 11% from 2021 to 2022, and 45% of people who consume plant-based milk plan to increase their consumption over the next three years, according to McKinsey & Co.

Digestive health, lactose intolerance and embracing a vegan diet are the main reasons people are switching to plant-based milk.

Still wondering whether oat or almond milk is the healthier choice? Nutrition experts explain the benefits and drawbacks of each type.

The Nutritional Breakdown of Oat and Almond Milk

These two plant-based milks are made by soaking almonds or oats in water. The mixture is then blended and strained. The exact nutritional information for oat and almond milk varies drastically by product. But, here’s a general overview of the nutritional makeup of oat and almond milk, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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The nutritional breakdown of approximately one cup of unsweetened oat milk features:

  • Calories: 80

  • Fat: 1.5 g

  • Sodium: 120 mg

  • Carbs: 14 g

  • Sugar: 1 g

  • Fiber: 2 g

  • Protein: 4 g

A cup of unsweetened almond milk contains:

  • Calories: 37

  • Fat: 3 g

  • Sodium: 146 mg

  • Carbs: 1 g

  • Sugar: 0 g

  • Fiber: 0 g

  • Protein: 1 g

The Pros and Cons of Oat Milk

Oat milk is popular thanks to its “creamy texture,” says Tamar Samuels, MS, RDN, co-founder of Culina Health. It’s nut-free and dairy-free, but it’s not always gluten-free, despite oats naturally not containing gluten. So, if you adhere to a gluten-free diet, oat milk may not be your best choice.

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It’s also low in saturated fat and often fortified with calcium and vitamins A, D and B12, says Allison Arnett, MS, RD, lecturer and clinical program coordinator at the University of New Haven School of Health Sciences.

Oat milk also contains more fiber than almond milk, Dr. Cederquist adds, but it's also higher in calories and carbs. And while oat milk may contain more protein than its almond counterpart, it contains less than dairy milk.

“Many oat milk products contain higher amounts of added sugar and oils compared to other milk alternatives,” Samuels says. So, if you’re managing your blood sugar levels, be mindful of regularly consuming oat milk.

Another thing to note is that oat milk often contains additives and stabilizers, Arnett says. “So, it’s important to read labels.”

The Pros and Cons of Almond Milk

Almond milk is lower in calories than oat milk. Dr. Cederquist says it also provides essential nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D. Almonds naturally contain vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

It’s a good dairy- and gluten-free alternative, but it’s not suitable for people with nut allergies, she explains. Almond milk is low in protein and contains less fiber than oat milk, and the lower-protein feature may negatively impact someone’s fullness and satiety after consuming it, Samuels says. Arnett adds that, like oat milk, almond milk can contain additives and stabilizers, and some products may contain added sugar.

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What to Look for When Buying Oat and Almond Milk

Selecting an almond or oat milk can be overwhelming, as there are so many options in the grocery store. Samuels strongly suggests reading product and nutrition labels.

“Choose options with simple ingredient lists and limited additives, such as gums and carrageenan, which can cause digestive issues,” she says. Check the sugar content, too, Samuels emphasizes. Many non-dairy milks contain added sugar, and choosing an unsweetened option is best.

Also, look for products that are fortified with nutrients, like calcium and vitamin D and B12, Cederquist says. “This is particularly important if your diet lacks dairy and other calcium-rich sources.”

Is Oat Milk Better for the Environment?

Non-dairy milks are generally better for the environment than dairy, according to Columbia University. Still, dairy alternatives contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and need water for production.

Generally, oat milk is a more sustainable option, according to the university. Producing a liter of oat milk requires 48 liters of water, which is lower than what’s needed to produce dairy, soy or almond milk. It takes 12 liters of water to produce a single almond.

Which Is Healthier: Oat Milk or Almond Milk?

An 8-ounce glass of oat or almond milk a day can be “an excellent addition to a balanced diet,” Dr. Cederquist says, as long as you choose unsweetened products that are fortified with nutrients. Otherwise, the nutrient profile of each is fairly similar—so, one isn’t really healthier than the other.

Whether to choose oat or almond milk “depends on your personal health goals, flavor preferences and the use case,” Samuels says. 

“Always check the nutrition label to ensure your choice aligns with your dietary requirements,” she adds. And, choose the non-dairy milk that you like the most—or opt for both.

Next, read about the best probiotic-rich foods for gut health.

Expert Sources