Over the past decade, plant based milk alternatives have become more and more popular, with almond milk and oat milk flooding the shelves of the dairy aisle. But, is one plant based milk alternative better than the other? Is there really a difference between almond milk and oat milk?
Well, they are definitely different when it comes to nutrition, taste, cost and health benefits. In this article, we will deep dive into each of these categories to determine what is the best option for you. Then, we will go over a few brands that do a great job making almond and oat milks!
What are the benefits of almond milk?
Almond milk was the first plant based milk alternative I saw on the shelves. When I was a vegan, I only drank almond milk. I used it in smoothies, to make hot chocolate, in various creamy pasta dishes and more. I will admit I prefer the taste of cow’s milk, but it really ain’t too bad!
It’s low in calories
The first perk of almond milk is that it is low in calories. One cup of almond milk is typically around 40 calories. If you are trying to lose weight or just prefer to keep your calories from liquid sources low, almond milk is going to be a good choice for you.
It’s high in vitamin E
One unique perk of almond milk is that it is high in vitamin E, which is typically found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. One cup of almond milk provides around 8 milligrams of vitamin E, which is equal to about 50% of your daily value.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which means it protects cells from free radicals that can lead to conditions like cardiovascular disease and cancer.
It’s low in carbohydrates
Almond milk is low in calories, and therefore low in carbohydrates. That being said, carbohydrates aren’t bad, but if you have insulin resistance and diabetes, it’s important to be mindful about carbohydrate intake.
One cup of almond milk contains about 3 grams of carbohydrates. Carbohydrate needs depend on the individual, but it is recommended to consume at least 130 grams per day. Most people do well with about 45-65% of their daily calories coming from carbohydrates.
It’s more affordable
Another benefit of almond milk is the price. It tends to be cheaper than its oat milk counterpart which can be important if you are on a budget. Price does depend on the brand, but store brand almond milk is typically around $2.50 which store brand oat milk is around $3.70.
What are the downsides of almond milk?
While almond milk is a great plant based milk alternative, there are a few downsides. Firstly, it’s not a great drink if you have an almond allergy. I know, I know, that’s pretty obvious, but it’s absolutely a downside considering tree nuts are one of the major food allergens.
Next, some people do not like the taste of almond milk. You will need to try it out yourself to officially come to this conclusion, but most people prefer the taste of oat milk since it’s creamier and thicker (more similar to cow’s milk).
Finally, it’s low in calories. I know I mentioned this as a benefit in the last section, but for some this would be considered a downside. If you are trying to gain weight or are looking for a higher protein option, oat milk or cow’s milk are better options.
What are the benefits of oat milk?
Oat milk has become increasingly popular over the last several years as more plant based milk alternatives have made it to the shelf. And there is definitely a reason for this! It’s creamier and works really well in drinks like coffee and lattes. No wonder so many people choose oat milk as their number one plant based milk alternative!
It contains beneficial fiber
Unlike almond milk, oat milk provides about 4 grams of fiber. This equals out to about 16% of your daily value of fiber for women and 11% for men. And this is in just one cup of oat milk! Of course the amount will slightly differ depending on the brand, so be sure to check the nutrition label.
Fiber is beneficial for a large variety of reasons, including increasing fullness after meals, lowering cholesterol and prevention of constipation and diverticulosis. Women should aim for about 25 grams per day while men should aim for about 38 grams per day. This will increase as you consume a higher amount of calories.
It’s high in vitamin A
Unlike other plant based milk alternatives, oat milk is high in vitamin A. Ever heard that carrots are good for your eyes? Well, that’s because of their high vitamin A content! Vitamin A is not only good for your eyes, it’s important for immune function, growth and development and reproductive health.
Oat milk’s vitamin A content depends on the brand, but one cup should contain around 150 micrograms or 21% of your daily value of vitamin A. Other sources of vitamin A include sweet potato, spinach, carrots, milk, cantaloupe, red peppers and mango.
It’s high in vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Another unique aspect of oat milk is that it is high in vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin. This B vitamin is important for energy production, growth and development and the breakdown of fat and drugs in the body.
One cup of oat milk contains about 0.5 milligrams or 46% of your daily value of riboflavin. Other sources of riboflavin include fortified cereals, oats, yogurt, milk, almonds, cheese, mushrooms and eggs.
Taste may be preferable
Many prefer the taste of oat milk over almond milk, but really it all comes down to personal preference. Oat milk is creamier and sweeter than almond milk. It works well in coffee drinks and lattes. Almond milk, on the other hand, has a nutty, watery flavor.
What are the downsides of oat milk?
The biggest downside to oat milk is that it is higher in calories compared to almond milk. One cup of oat milk is typically around 130 calories while one cup of almond milk is around 40 calories. That being said, higher calories doesn’t always equate to being healthier or better for weight loss.
Next, you do need to be careful if you have celiac disease, since sometimes oats can be contaminated with gluten. If you can’t have gluten, make sure to check the label to see if the oat milk is labeled as “gluten-free”.
Lastly, the fiber in oat milk could potentially be a downside if you are not used to eating a high fiber diet or if you have a digestive issue such as IBS, ulcerative colitis or crohn’s disease. Please speak to your doctor and dietitian and follow any recommendations they make concerning fiber.
Which is a more nutritious option?
Oat milk definitely reigns supreme when it comes to nutrition. While almond milk is a good low calories option, it doesn’t provide many beneficial nutrients. It’s basically a few almonds blended with water. That doesn’t make it “bad” by any means, it just means you won’t get much nutrition out of it.
Oat milk, on the other hand, is an excellent source of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin A, calcium (if it’s fortified), manganese and phosphorus. It’s also a good source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin D (if it’s fortified), copper, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc. It also provides about 4 grams of fiber!
Which option is better for weight loss?
This is a tricky question. Almond milk is lower in calories, so it’s probably the best choice for weight loss. That being said, oat milk contains more fiber and protein, meaning it will help you stay more satiated and full compared with almond milk.
If you are trying to pursue weight loss, I encourage you to try almond milk for a week and then oat milk for a week. Notice if oat milk helps you feel fuller and more satisfied so you don’t have to eat more later in the day. If it does, oat milk may be a better choice. If not, almond milk is probably the better weight loss option.
Word of caution: What to look for when buying plant based milk alternatives
Lately there has been a push to create plant based milk alternatives with the fewest amount of ingredients possible. This is mostly due to the fear of additives, preservatives and ingredients “you can’t pronounce”.
But, unfortunately, many vitamins and minerals that are added to food to boost their nutritional value are “hard to pronounce” and have been removed from various food products, including almond and oat milk.
While it may feel like the almond or oat milk with the least amount of ingredients is the “healthiest” this simply isn’t true. Plus, almond and oat milks that haven’t been fortified with calcium and vitamin D aren’t providing you with the beneficial nutrients you are missing when you remove dairy from your diet.
So when you are looking for an almond or oat milk in the store, be sure to check to see if they have been fortified with vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and vitamin D.
Comparison chart: Almond Milk vs. Oat Milk
|Almond Milk||Oat Milk|
|Calories||36 calories||130 calories|
|Fiber||0.5 grams||3.6 grams|
|Protein||1.0 grams||4.7 grams|
|Vitamin E||8.0 milligrams||0.2 milligrams|
|Vitamin A||0.0 micrograms||150 micrograms|
|Riboflavin||0.0 micrograms||0.5 milligrams|
|Taste||Nutty, watery||Creamy, sweet|
My favorite almond milk brands
(amazon affiliate links)