Oat milk vs almond milk: the ultimate showdown

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Mar 6, 2024 at 10:56 AM

Reading time: 5 minutes

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In the ever-expanding realm of plant-based milk alternatives, two contenders have risen to the top: oat milk and almond milk. As the popularity of these dairy-free options soars, consumers find themselves at a crossroads, pondering which one is the superior choice in terms of taste, nutrition, and environmental impact. In this comprehensive guide, we aim to dissect the differences between oat milk and almond milk, shedding light on the pros, cons, calories, and their impact on your overall health. You’re welcome!

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Is almond milk good for you?

Almond milk is naturally higher in vitamin E, which plays a crucial role in skin health and immune system support. Additionally, vitamin E may contribute to reducing the risk of chronic diseases by combating disease-causing free radicals, as noted by registered nutritionist and consultant Tony Castillo in Women’s Health.

That being said, almond milk also comes without its downsides. Once hailed as the queen of dairy-free milk alternatives, almond milk now faces scrutiny for its sustainability and nutritional content. According to the Sustainable Restaurant Association via The Guardian, “it takes a bonkers 1,611 US gallons (6,098 litres) to produce 1 litre of almond milk,” raising concerns about its environmental impact.

Nutritionally, almond milk falls short, providing minimal protein and often being sweetened with added sugars. It may only contain calcium if fortified, making it less impressive than other alternatives from a nutritional standpoint.

While almond milk remains a popular choice for those seeking a dairy-free option, its environmental footprint and nutritional limitations present convincing arguments to consider alternative forms of milk.

Is oat milk good for you?

Oat milk, on the other hand, has also emerged as a strong contender for the throne of plant-based milk. The process of soaking oats in water, blending, and straining results in a product that stands out in terms of nutritional content. Compared to almond milk, oat milk offers a creamier consistency, making it a favourite among baristas for its frothing capabilities.

When compared with almond milk, oat milk also boasts a more sustainable production process, requiring less water and earning accolades for its lower environmental impact. Rich in carbs and calories, it provides a creaminess that almond milk lacks.

While oat milk stands out nutritionally, it is essential to note its higher carb and calorie content, which may be a consideration for those monitoring their daily intake. Additionally, gluten-free individuals should exercise caution, as oats can be subject to cross-contamination during processing.

Oat milk vs almond milk: which is better?

Did you know that almond, coconut, and soy milk have been around since the 13th century, according to a book titled History of Soymilk and Other Non-Dairy Milks? While these three options are believed to have originated in regions such as the Middle East and Asia, oat milk, in contrast, is a relatively recent addition. It was in fact invented in Sweden during the 90s.

Nonetheless, oat milk has emerged as a prominent contender among plant-based milk alternatives, securing the second spot in US total sales in 2023.

However, this leaves the all-important question about which one is better. It’s crucial to acknowledge that neither oat milk nor almond milk qualifies as “milk” in the traditional sense, as both are blends derived from grains and nuts. In the health magazine Prevention, family physician Dr Rawls emphasises the manufacturing process, explaining that oat milk originates from oats, while almond milk is crafted from almonds blended with water and subsequently strained to remove solid components.

When comparing oat milk to almond milk, nutritional differences come to the forefront. Oat milk tends to have a higher protein content than almond milk but comes with a much-elevated carbohydrate profile. Dr. Rawls also notes how both milk’s taste and texture differ dramatically from cow’s milk. But, instead of seeing these differences as drawbacks, it’s more about getting used to their unique characteristics. So, while they may not be identical to cow’s milk, they each bring their own distinct qualities to the table.

Calories

Breaking down the nutritional content further, almond milk proves to be lower in carbohydrates, making it a preferable choice for individuals adhering to low-carb diets. Within the Prevention analysis, Allie Echeverria, a registered dietitian, provides insights into the nutritional breakdown of unsweetened and sweetened almond milk, emphasising differences in calorie count, carbohydrates, sugar content, fat, protein, and calcium levels.

In an 8 oz serving, unsweetened almond milk offers 37 kcal, 1g of carbohydrates, 0g sugar, 3g fat, 1g protein, and 481 mg calcium. In contrast, sweetened almond milk contains 93 kcal, 16g carbohydrates, 15g sugar, 3g fat, 1g protein, and 459 mg calcium in the same serving size.

On the other hand, oat milk, known for its higher protein content, may be less suitable for individuals managing certain health conditions, such as cancer, due to its distinct nutritional composition, including calorie count, carbohydrates, sugar, fat, protein, and calcium content. Oat milk, recognised for its higher protein content, provides 120 kcal, 16g carbohydrates, 7g sugar, 5g fat, 3g protein, and 350 mg calcium in a regular 8 oz serving, with the low-fat version containing 1g fat. With lower carbohydrate content, almond milk emerges as a preferable choice for individuals who are keen on sticking to a low-carb diet.

As you’ve likely gathered, the disparity in sugar and carbohydrate content between oat milk and almond milk plays a pivotal role. Therefore, for individuals on a weight loss journey asking themselves, is almond milk better than oat milk for losing weight, the choice between oat milk and almond milk hinges on various factors. Surely, the creamier consistency of oat milk provides a more satisfying experience. However, those closely monitoring carb intake may find almond milk a more suitable option.

In a viral interview on TikTok with American entrepreneur Marie Forleo, Jessie Inchauspé, a French biochemist and renowned New York Times bestselling author known as the ‘Glucose Goddess’, delivered a damning evaluation: “Oat milk comes from oats, and oats are a grain, and grains are starch. When you’re [drinking] oat milk, you’re [drinking] starch juice. You’re [drinking] juice with a lot of glucose in it. So it leads to a big glucose spike.”

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These include the fibre content, the presence of fast-releasing carbohydrates and sugars, and the array of additives, emulsifiers, and flavourings introduced by certain commercial brands. It’s a nutritional saga where the stakes are high, and the choices you make can significantly impact your dietary journey.

Even when unsweetened, oat milk contains natural sugars that may not be ideal for anyone looking to prevent blood sugar spikes. It’s important to note that not everyone will have the same reaction to certain foods and ingredients.

Nutrition

When delving into the nutritional aspect, almond milk tends to be lower in carbohydrates, making it a favourable choice for those on low-carb diets. With an 8 oz serving of unsweetened almond milk containing just 1 gram of carbohydrates and 0 grams of sugar, it’s a lean option. On the other hand, oat milk, while higher in protein, also comes with a higher carb content, around 16 grams per 8 oz serving.

Taste

In the taste department, almond milk offers a distinct almond flavour that sets it apart. It provides a nutty essence that can enhance various recipes and beverages. Oat milk, however, boasts a creamier consistency and a milder taste. The starchy undertones in oat milk contribute to a more neutral flavour profile, making it a versatile choice for both sweet and savoury dishes.

Consistency

When it comes to consistency, the creamy nature of oat milk stands out. With a texture that closely mimics cow’s milk, oat milk has become a favourite among baristas for its frothing capabilities. On the other hand, almond milk tends to have a thinner consistency, which might make it less suitable for certain applications where a thicker texture is desired. The choice between the two depends on individual preferences and the intended use in different recipes.

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Sustainability

As we navigate the landscape of plant-based milk, the journey to sustainability encounters a thorny patch in the realm of oat milk.

If you find yourself wondering, if oat milk is better than almond milk, please keep in mind that the conversation surrounding oat milk’s sustainability is not as easy as it seems. Its primary ingredient, in fact, comes from industrial operations sprayed with glyphosate, a concerning herbicide. Studies show its presence in 43 of 45 foods with conventionally grown oats, raising questions about the true “eco-friendliness” of this supposedly guilt-free choice.

Almond milk, on the other hand, faces environmental scrutiny, notably in water-sensitive regions like California. The water-intensive nature of almonds prompts reflection on the sustainability of creamy allure versus the environmental strain.

Make the right choice for you

In the grand face-off between oat milk and almond milk, declaring a clear winner is, well completely based on personal preferences. On one hand, almond milk raises significant concerns regarding environmental damage, particularly in terms of almond plantations and their impact on California’s water resources. On the other hand, when considering the impact on your body, almond milk appears to have the edge.

As you venture through the labyrinth of plant-based milk options, the showdown between oat milk and almond milk is nothing short of a personalised journey. It’s a tug-of-war, but who will come out victorious? For more of the internet’s biggest discussions, make sure to check out our dedicated page to all things Gen Z news.

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