Plant-based milks have been making an appearance on both Starbucks menus and grocery shopping lists for quite some time—and it’s not all about soy milk anymore, either. In fact, if you’re looking for an alternative to cow’s milk, you are spoiled with choice, which brings us to our topic du jour: oat milk vs. almond milk. Read on for an overview of the nutritional and flavor profiles, plus the general pros and cons of these two plant-based options, so you can choose a dairy-free latte that meets all your needs.
Oat Milk vs. Almond Milk: Which One Is Better?
A dietician weighs in
Meet the Expert
- Alyssa Wilson, RD is a registered and licensed dietitian. She holds a Master of Science in Nutrition from Georgia State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Georgia. Alyssa has experience working as a nutrition coach at major gyms as well as leading nutrition programs in corporate wellness, and currently works as a metabolic success coach at Signos.
Oat Milk vs. Almond Milk: Nutrition
If you’re wondering how these two dairy-free alternatives stack up in the nutrition department, the following breakdown, based on data from the USDA, might help you pick a side in the oat milk vs. almond milk stand-off.
Nutrition Information for Oat Milk:
- Serving size: 1 cup
- Calories: 120
- Carbs: 16g
- Fat: 5g
- Protein: 3g
- Calcium: 350 mg
Nutrition Information for Almond Milk:
- Serving size: 1 cup
- Calories: 39
- Carbs: 3g
- Fat: 2.5g
- Protein: 1g
- Calcium: 482 mg
Additionally, Wilson tells us that “oat milk is low in protein and higher in carbohydrates than most non-dairy milk options since it is made from oats, [but it] can contain small amounts of beta-glucan, which supports heart health and gut health.” (The store-bought kind is also an excellent source of other nutrients like phosphorus, riboflavin and vitamins A and D, since it is typically enriched in the same way breakfast cereals are.)
Almond milk, on the other hand, does not contain a lot of protein or other nutrients at all, says Wilson. (Although it’s worth noting that like store-bought oat milk, store-bought almond milk often has additional nutrients added.) The takeaway? If you’re counting carbs, you may want to steer clear of oat milk; if you’re not on a low carb diet, you should know that oat milk has more nutrients than almond milk—especially if you’re buying it from the store rather than making it at home—and boasts the added benefit of being allergy-friendly, too.
The Pros and Cons of Oat Milk
- Allergy-friendly and gluten-free.
- Contains more protein than almond milk.
- Boasts a fair amount of nutrients when enriched—including vitamin D, which supports bone health by helping the body absorb calcium.
- Contains a soluble fiber called beta glucan, which research—like this 2021 study published in The Journal of Nutrition—shows can help lower bad cholesterol and promote heart health.
- More sustainable and environmentally-friendly than other alternative milks, including almond milk.
- The neutral flavor of oat milk makes it a more versatile dairy alternative.
- Considerably higher in calories than almond milk.
- Higher in net carbohydrates than other dairy-free milks, including almond milk.
- The store-bought stuff is often loaded with added sugars, so it's best to opt for the unsweetened kind, or pick a different dairy alternative if you’re watching your waistline.
The Pros and Cons of Almond Milk
- The expert says that “store-bought brands are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D to match or exceed the nutritional value of these nutrients in cow’s milk.”
- According to WebMD, almond milk is also a good source of magnesium, a nutrient that supports muscle function and helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, as well as vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that boasts benefits for both immune and cognitive health.
- Almond milk is low in calories and carbohydrates.
- Distinctive, nutty taste that many enjoy.
- Per Wilson, “almonds lose their fiber, protein, and antioxidant content during the milking process,” thus diminishing the nutritional value of almond milk. (In other words, you’re better off eating almonds than drinking them if you want to take full advantage of the aforementioned health benefits.)
- Not suitable for people who have a tree nut allergy.
So, Is Oat Milk or Almond Milk Better for You?
You want a straightforward answer, we know—but as you can see, there are pros and cons of both dairy alternatives. As such, the oat milk vs. almond milk debate really comes down to your wellness goals, explains Wilson, adding that “if you are looking to increase your protein intake, oat milk may be the best option, but if you are looking to decrease caloric intake, almond milk may better.” In other words, if you are on a keto or low-carb diet then go for almond milk, but if you have a nut allergy or simply prefer a more neutral flavor, oat milk is the obvious choice. You may also want to consider taste and versatility (because of its higher carb and calorie content, oat milk is a particularly creamy dairy milk alternative making it a great option for a frothy latte, for example). Bottom line: Both milks have their pros and cons, so drink whichever one suits your wellness goals and palate best.