Is Oat Milk Healthy?
This popular non-dairy milk is now found in coffee creamer, ice cream, yogurt and more.
Once the all-new milk alternative, oat milk is now as mainstream an option as soy or almond milk — and it might be even more popular. Touted as a nut-free dairy-free alternative to many other non-dairy milks on the market, oat milk can be found in nearly every artisanal coffee shop across the country. You’ll even find it in Starbucks now. However, if you’re not opting for oat milk for its nut-free properties, you may be wondering how the beverage stacks up against the other milk alternatives out there. In a landscape of countless options for plant-based milk refreshment, is oat milk even healthy?
What Is Oat Milk?
Much like other plant-based beverages, oat milk is made by combining oats with water, blending them and, finally, straining. The remaining liquid is the “milk” many folks love for lattes, cereal and smoothies. Additional add-ins will vary by brand, but may include flavors, sweeteners and thickeners. Most brands contain some salt, as well as the intentional addition of calcium to make the nutritional content similar to cow’s milk and other plant-based beverages. Oat milk tends to have a creamy and subtly sweet flavor — there is definitely an essence of oats — but it’s not at all overwhelming.
To have complete control over the ingredients, it is very easy (and pretty affordable) to make your own batch of oat milk. Blend with frozen fruit to experiment with the color and flavor. Like many DIY recipes, the homespun versions will have a shorter shelf life.
Nutrition Facts of Oat Milk
On average, an 8-fluid ounce serving of oat milk contains 130 calories and 5 grams of fat. Since oats are naturally low in fat, much of the fat in oat milk comes from oils added to the mixture to help stabilize and thicken the end product. Oat milk is low in the protein department, with most brands containing 1 to 2 grams per serving. Since oats are plentiful in carbohydrates, the carb count in oat milk is higher than many plant-based beverages coming in at about 15 grams per serving. Oats are also high in fiber, but since most of the fibrous part of the oat is removed during blending and straining, oat milk only offers about 1 to 2 grams of fiber per serving. With the addition of calcium, the total is typically about 250 milligrams per serving which is about 20% of the daily recommendation. Oat milk went through a reckoning when the Internet called out certain brands for what was perceived to be a high sugar content. While oat milk can contain some added sugar, it’s important to read the label to find out just how much.
Best Oat Milk Brands
Oat milks brand offerings continue to expand – check labels as the ingredient lists can vary significantly. Here is a rundown on some of the best-selling brands.
Recently adopted as the "house" oat milk at many Starbucks locations, Oatly is the brand that started it all. The creamy oat bevvie is fortified with vitamins A, B2, B12, D and calcium. Oatly can be found in both room temperature and chilled packaging, and also comes in a mighty tasty chocolate flavor that is sweetened with cane sugar.
An Amazon best-seller, this brand is made from certified gluten-free oats and is
available in plain and vanilla flavors. Califia also offers a higher protein blend that’s fortified with pea protein along with extra calcium, vitamin D and flaxseed for some omega-3 fats.
A lesser-known brand of oat milk from a company known for innovative canned coffee drinks. Rise Brewing Co. oat milk is lovely for smoothies and cereal. Plus, the mocha flavor is a fun addition to hot and cold drinks and does come presweetened.
Trader Joe's Oat Milk
A cult favorite, this simple mix reflects what TJs is known (and loved) for – simple ingredients, affordability, and an overall solid product. It is worth noting that this blend is lowest in calcium with only 8% of the daily recommendation per serving.
Bottom Line: Oat milk can be part of a healthy eating plan.
Like other plant beverages, oat milk can be part of a healthy eating plan. Watch the added sugars and ingredient lists to find the best fit for your diet.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of ., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks , , and .
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.