If you are vegan or follow some other plant-based diet, or you have a dairy sensitivity and prefer to stay away from cow’s milk, plant-based kinds of milk such as almond milk and oat milk can be great alternatives.
Swapping out dairy milk for plant-based milk options is very easy these days due to the popularity of vegan milks and a wide variety of options. Among these options, oat milk and almond milk are two of the most popular plant-based beverages.
But which is better for you: oat milk or almond milk?
There are several factors to consider when comparing oat milk vs almond milk nutrition, such as oat milk vs almond milk calories and almond milk vs oat milk protein.
In this article, we will compare almond milk vs oat milk in a head-to-head battle to see which plant-based milk ultimately takes the prize.
We will cover:
- What Is Oat Milk, and What Is Almond Milk?
- Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Nutrition
- Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Health Benefits and Risks
- Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Sustainability
- Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Versatility
- Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Price
- So, Which Is Better: Oat Milk or Almond Milk?
Let’s get started!
What Is Oat Milk, and What Is Almond Milk?
Let’s start with a basic primer about what these plant-based milks actually are.
Oat milk is made by soaking oats and then blending them and straining the mixture, and almond milk is made using a similar process but using almonds.
The length of time the mixture is soaked largely influences the texture, taste, and nutrition of the plant-based milk.
In terms of texture and taste, neither oat milk nor almond milk will have the exact same mouth feel and taste as cow’s milk, so either option might take a little getting used to.
Oat milk tends to be a little starchier and thicker than cow’s milk, whereas almond milk hits the other end of the spectrum and tends to be thinner.
One isn’t necessarily better than the other; it’s more a matter of personal preference.
In terms of taste, so long as you buy the unflavored version of oat milk and almond milk, oat milk has a more neutral or mild flavor with a hint of sweetness, whereas almond milk has a bit of a distinct almondy taste.
When considering flavor, it is also worth mentioning that there are plenty of sweetened and flavored oat milk and almond milk varieties these days.
You can find vanilla, chocolate, and even pumpkin-spiced almond milk or oat milk, so if you have picky kids or want a special treat, you can definitely go that route.
If you choose a flavored variety of almond milk or oat milk that is sugar-free, the nutrition won’t change per se, but you’ll be consuming artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, or other non-caloric sweeteners, which aren’t particularly healthy.
Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Nutrition
If you’re used to drinking cow’s milk, you probably know that there are different nutrition facts for each of the four main types of milk–skim, 1% fat, 2% fat, and whole milk.
However, the nutrition facts for each type of milk are really quite standardized, such that if you turn over the milk gallon to compare the nutrition facts in 1% milk for any two brands, you’ll pretty much see an identical label.
The nutrition of oat milk and almond milk is far less standardized because it really depends on the process the manufacturer uses to make the milk and whether they’ve skimmed the fat or blended it all in.
There’s much less uniformity in labeling whether it’s “skim” milk wherein the fat has been skimmed off or blended as it, or if the oats or almonds have been soaked for longer so that more of their “meat” has been blended into the plant-based milk.
Therefore, unilaterally comparing oat milk vs almond milk nutrition is an exercise in futility.
There are some kinds of oat milk that contain fewer calories than almond milk and some kinds of almond milk that contain fewer calories than oat milk.
The same can be said with oat milk vs almond milk fat, oat milk vs almond milk protein, oat milk vs almond milk sugar or carbohydrates, and so on.
With that said, in general, the following generalizations can be made, keeping in mind that there are exceptions to the tendencies listed:
Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Calories
Oat milk is usually higher in calories per cup (240 mL) than almond milk.
One cup of unsweetened almond milk may contain anywhere from 30-80 calories per cup, with most brands coming in at around 50-60 calories per cup.
As for oat milk calories, one cup of oat milk usually has 60-120 calories per cup, with most brands around the 80-90 calories per cup level.
For example, one cup (240 mL) of unsweetened oat milk for one brand contains:
- Calories: 100
- Fat: 2 g
- Saturated fat: 0 g
- Sodium: 120 mg
- Carbs: 17 g
- Sugar: 1 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 3 g
Oat Milk vs.Almond Milk Fat
Almond milk is usually a little higher in fat than oat milk, though it depends on the soaking process and how much they strain the milk.
For example, the brand just referenced above contains a whopping 11 grams of fat per cup in their almond milk, whereas the oat milk has just 2 grams.
Another company has 2.5 grams of fat per cup in its unsweetened almond milk.
Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Carbohydrates
Oat milk contains more carbohydrates and fiber than almond milk.
It is the carbohydrate content that largely drives up the calories in oat milk, as well as what imparts the body and creaminess to oat milk compared to thin almond milk.
Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Protein
Neither oat milk nor almond milk will contain nearly as much protein per cup as cow’s milk.
Interestingly, although most people would automatically assume that almond milk contains more protein than oat milk, oat milk usually contains more protein than almond milk.
The soaking process pulls more body from the oats compared to almonds because almonds are harder and don’t leach out as much of the “meat” of the nut.
Oats are soft, so they break down more easily in the soaking process, so the soaking liquid is more nutritive and less watery.
Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Nutrients
In addition to the differences in nutrition between almond milk and oat milk just discussed, each plant-based milk provides a slightly different swath of micronutrients.
Oat milk is higher in iron, and almond milk contains more vitamin E.
It’s also a little difficult to compare oat milk vs almond milk nutrition facts head-to-head because the majority of the manufacturers fortify their plant-based beverages with additional nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin B12.
Therefore, while almond milk naturally contains a little more calcium than oat milk, most oat milks are fortified with calcium to contain at least as much as the base level in almond milk, if not the full amount that is provided in calcium-fortified almond milk.
If you are looking to obtain more nutrients in your milk or almond milk, look for products that have been fortified with key nutrients such as calcium, iron, vitamin B12, zinc, and vitamin D.
These nutrients are particularly important for those following a vegan diet, as most plant-based foods are poor sources of these micronutrients.
Oat Milk Vs Almond Milk Diet Compatibility
Oat milk is not only lactose-free and vegan because it contains no animal products, but it’s also free from nuts and soy, two common allergens in many plant-based alternative milks.
Oats are naturally gluten-free, but there can be cross-contamination with oats and gluten-containing grains, so if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, check for a gluten-free certification stamp on the packaging.
Because oat milk is a nut-free vegan milk, it is great for people with nut allergies, whereas almond milk would not be suitable.
On the other hand, almond milk is a better choice for people on a low-carbohydrate diet, such as the keto diet, or who follow the Paleo diet because it does not contain grains and provides fewer carbohydrates overall.
Because almond milk is lower in calories than oat milk, it can be a better choice for people looking to lose weight.
Oat Milk Vs Almond Milk Health Benefits and Risks
If you are really trying to optimize your health, it’s worth considering more than just the differences in nutrition between oat milk and almond milk.
One of the benefits of oat milk versus almond milk is that oatmeal has a natural unctuousness or lusciousness that almond milk lacks.
Oat milk is inherently rich and creamy, characteristics that people crave in their alternative milk products because it better replicates the smooth, creamy texture of regular cow’s milk.
On the other hand, almond milk is naturally very thin and watery.
Therefore, many manufacturers use additives or thickeners, such as carrageenan, which is derived from red seaweed.
It may also disrupt the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut microbiome, which play key roles in digestion, producing nutrients such as vitamin B and vitamin K, reducing inflammation, and supporting your immune system.
Additionally, again, if you’re buying flavored or sweetened oat milk or almond milk, there may be lots of other additives to be aware of as well, including natural or artificial sweeteners, artificial flavoring, artificial coloring or dyes, and emulsifiers.
Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Sustainability
When it comes to oat milk versus almond milk sustainability or environmental burden, oat milk is the clear winner.
While both of these types of plant-based milks require fewer natural resources to produce than regular cow’s milk, oat milk is far more eco-friendly than almond milk.
This stark difference is due to the fact that almonds require a significant amount of water to grow, particularly in comparison to oats.
A single California almond is said to require about 3.2 gallons (12 liters) of water to grow. When you think about how many almonds need to go into a standard quart of almond milk, you can quickly see how tremendous the water burden becomes.
Moreover, because a shocking 80% of all almonds consumed worldwide are ground in the state of California, the growing soils can become depleted because the crops may not be rotated enough due to the high demand for profitable almonds.
Plus, California has experienced some significant droughts in the past several years, which makes the high water needs for growing almonds all the more unsustainable and environmentally costly.
Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Versatility
You can certainly use either plant-based milk or really any sort of application, but in general, the naturally creamy texture of oat milk lends itself well to being frothed into coffee drinks, enjoyed by the glass, or added to baked goods where it imparts a slight sweetness and pleasant texture.
Almond milk is more liquid and has a slightly nutty flavor. It can also be enjoyed plain, and it works well in smoothies, cereal, or in protein drinks.
Almond milk is better than oat milk for people following a low-carb diet.
Almond milk doesn’t work particularly well as a substitute for dairy milk in baking recipes because it changes the consistency, texture, and taste of the recipe.
Oat Milk vs Almond Milk Price
Depending on where you live and what’s available to you, almond milk tends to be cheaper and easier to find than oat milk.
This is largely due to the fact that oat milk is still relatively new in the plant-based milk market compared to almond milk. Given the fact that almonds are expensive and take a ton of water to grow, this price discrepancy may flip-flop over time if consumer demand for oat milk increases.
So, which is better: oat milk or almond milk?
Ultimately, it comes down to your preferences and needs as well as the specific product itself.
Choose almond milk if you want something light and low in carbs and calories, and choose oat milk if you’re looking for a richer, more filling, traditional “milk-like” beverage.