How To Choose The Best Oat Milk For Your Health Goals
If you believe the industry statistics, there’s about a 50/50 chance that you’ll put a plant-based milk carton in your grocery cart every week (IPSOS) and even though almond milk dominates the market, oat milk is the new rising star when it comes to cow milk alternatives. NOW, I’ve been an almond milk drinker for years and I know that it takes tons of water to grow almonds which are not great for sustainability, so I thought I’d check out oat milk. And honestly, when I read that the pesticides used on almonds are responsible for killing honey bees, well, I don’t want to contribute to that!
This blog discusses the key differences between almond and oat milk, and then if you still want to forge ahead and try oat milk, I’ll be reviewing three bestselling oat milk products that I found at my local supermarket.
In general you’ll pay more for oat milk, and it does contain more calories and protein than almond milk. It also has a creamier texture but the flavor is mild and won’t overpower whatever you mix it with. As with all milk alternatives, you should avoid those that have been flavored or sweetened because no one needs the extra sugar.
Oats contain beta-glucan, a Soluble fiber that great for your gut health as well as being protective against cancer, diabetes, and inflammation. (J Nutr Biochem, Nov 2018) Oats also contain phytic acid, which makes it difficult to absorb calcium. Commercial products are fortified, so keep this in mind if you make your own oat milk – you won’t be getting much calcium. And sometimes commercial oat milks aren’t gluten free, so be careful if you have gluten sensitivity. Oat milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk if you are lactose intolerant, vegan, or have serious gut issues.
Now I’m gonna confess that I usually drink almond milk, so I was a little nervous testing out oat milk but I figured I like oatmeal, so I’d probably like oat milk. I went down to my local Safeway and picked up three brands: Califia farms oat milk, Oatly original Oat milk, , and Pacific Organic Oat Non Dairy Beverage. They all come in shelf stable packaging versions, which helps if you don’t have lots of frig space.
The Pacific Oat beverage cost the most at .14/oz, and this is probably because it’s certified organic. Oatly cost .09/oz and Califia about .12/oz. If you really want organic, given these three choices, Pacific is the clear winner. Unfortunately I wasn’t too impressed with the nutrient composition – only 4 grams of protein and a measly 120 mg of calcium – not nearly enough to put a dent into protecting bones and of the 3 brands, this was the only one not certified gluten free. If you already take dietary supplements for omegas and calcium, this might not be a bad choice, but honestly you are paying more just because it’s organic. But taste is important too – and it was creamy, and works well in cereal or alone in a glass.
The nutrient content really varied between the 3 brands and Califia Farms was the clear winner -having more than double the amount of protein per 1 cup serving. Califia also contains omega-3 fatty acids and a whopping 590 gm of calcium, and is made with flaxseed oil and vitamin D derived from mushroom powder.– so this oat milk brand rocks when it comes to superior nutrients and is great for anyone who is concerned about getting enough protein, has muscle wasting, a perfect choice for older folks desiring to protect their brain and bones and heart. There is one downside to Califia Farms – some people might not like the heavier consistency, and there is a slight protein powder after taste, so this brand works best in smoothies and baked goods.
If you’re gluten free or gluten sensitive, Califia Farms and Oatly are certified GF. Oatly contains the least amount of calories and protein, so this might be a good choice for someone who is watching calories in order to lose weight. Oatly oat milk is not as thick and creamy as Califia so it makes a great addition to cereals, coffee or straight in the glass. The price point is pleasing too.
So, my final answer on oat milk is – if you can get buy without organics, Califia farms gives you the best value, taste, and nutrient load. If you are looking for a basic oat milk without the bells and whistles, Oatly gets the job done.