How Healthy Is Oat Milk, Exactly? The Answer May Surprise You

This is the secret to finding an alt-milk that's actually good for you.

Oat milk is the most popular non-dairy milk alternative on the market right now. Between its naturally sweet and nutty flavor, so-creamy texture, and a laundry list of purported nutrients, it isn't hard to figure out why everyone—lactose-intolerant or not—is opting to order their latté with oat milk over the regular stuff.

Benefits of Oat Milk

The benefits of oat milk go beyond flavor and healthfulness. Oat milk is more environmentally sustainable than some other non-dairy milk alternatives (like almond milk). And it has the capability of foaming or frothing just as well as regular milk for fancy barista beverages, like cappuccinos.

We hate to be seen as skeptics, but this alt milk is sounding borderline too good to be true. Seriously, try it for yourself and see if you also find yourself wondering, "How healthy is oat milk, really?" Ashley Koff, a Registered Dietician and CEO of the Better Nutrition Program (and consultant for Califia Farms), helped us answer this question. Long story short, we have good news.

Oat Milk Vs. Whole Milk

Oat milk has a healthier fat profile than whole milk. It has less saturated fat and the same or more unsaturated fat (aka healthy fats!) compared to whole milk. Oat milk also doesn't contain any cholesterol, while whole milk has 24 milligrams per cup.

Oat milk typically contains a similar amount of vitamins and minerals as cow's milk: A cup of fortified oat or while milk provides about 20 percent of your daily value for both vitamin A and vitamin D. Oat milk also has more fiber (2 to 4 grams vs. 0 grams), carbs (15 to 20 grams vs. 12 grams per serving), and less protein (2 grams vs. 8 grams) than cow's milk.

That said, not all oat milks are created equal, and some may not contain protein or healthy fats. Check your product's label. If your oat milk is lacking in protein or healthy fats, be sure to drink it with other foods that do, like a bowl of cereal with walnuts and hemp seeds. Or pair your oat milk latte with a hard-boiled egg.

When to Swap Oat Milk for Whole Milk

If you have a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance but want the thick and creamy consistency of whole milk, high-quality oat milk is a great alternative. Swapping whole milk for oat milk would also be helpful to anyone trying to lower their saturated fat or increase their unsaturated fat intake.

Additives in Oat Milk

Always look at the nutritional panel before you buy, because many oat milks include additives you may object to.


Unfortunately, many of the "extra creamy" versions pack a lot of added sugar. Per the World Health Organization, adults should keep their added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons max. One teaspoon equals 4 grams of sugar on a label—so when you see an oat milk with 16 grams per 8-ounce serving, that's one to avoid.

Oils and Gums

Some kinds of oat milk contain oils (like rapeseed oil, palm oil, or sunflower oil) or other additives (like stabilizers or gums). These may or may not be a health issue for you, but it's best to know if your oat milk contains them. And if gluten is an issue for you, make sure you're the oats are certified gluten-free and the other ingredients are gluten-free.

Two Brands to Try

Koff recommends Califia Farms Zero Sugar Oat Milk ($4.99, It's deliciously creamy and has only 2 grams of natural sugar that come from the oats directly when the oat is broken down from a grain to a liquid during the oat milk process. It's also free from gluten, stabilizers, and gums. It does contain sunflower oil, however. If you'd like sugar-free oat milk that doesn't contain oil, try Planet Oat Unsweetened Original Oatmilk ($4.99,

Key takeaway: Read the ingredients list.

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