Is Oat Milk Healthy? A Guide to This Popular Dairy-Free Drink

Oat milk is soaring in popularity. Here’s why you should consider including it in your next grocery shop or even making it from home.

Is Oat Milk Healthy? A Guide to This Popular Dairy-Free Drink
Vegan milk is becoming more popular.

The Rise of Vegan Milk

The vegan milk market is growing. In the U.S., it’s worth more than $1.8 billion. In the UK, 16 million people regularly choose it over traditional cow’s milk.

Part of the reason the category is rapidly expanding is due to health concerns. Some medical professionals believe dairy increases the risk of serious diseases, like breast cancer. There’s also the environmental aspect. Animal agriculture is responsible for a multitude of environmental issues, like high greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation.

But there’s also another factor that’s drawing consumers to dairy-free milk: variety. There are so many different types of vegan milk available, including soy, coconut, almond, and hemp.

Most recently, oat milk has exploded in popularity. In the UK, volume sales increased by 71 percent between 2017 and 2018. In the U.S., sales rose from $4.4 million in 2017 to $29 million in 2019. It’s loved by politicians and celebrities, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kelly Osbourne, who is so obsessed with it she ships it over from England to her home in Los Angeles.

Is Oat Milk Healthy? A Guide to This Popular Dairy-Free Drink
Oat milk is frothy and creamy like dairy milk.

What Is Oat Milk?

As you may have guessed, oat milk is derived from oats. Leslie Boncli — owner of Active Eating Advice — told Aaptiv, “you combine one part oats with two parts water, let the oats soak up the fluid, and then blend and strain. The remaining liquid is the oat milk.”

Oat milk is particularly popular because of its creamy texture. It’s loved by baristas because of the way it froths, which is similar to traditional cow’s milk.

Intelligentsia Coffee was the first coffee shop in the U.S. to offer oat milk by Oatly — the Swedish brand which, arguably, helped to kickstart the oat milk obsession. CEO of Intelligentsia Coffee James McLaughlin told Refinery 29, “Intelligentsia baristas became really enthusiastic about using oat milk because it steams froths really well compared to other alternative milk.”

Is Oat Milk Healthy? A Guide to This Popular Dairy-Free Drink
Oats are a good source of fiber. 

Is Oat Milk Healthy?

Oats are a good source of fiber; when they’re processed into milk they can lose a little bit, but they still retain around two grams, says dietician and founder of Nutritious Life Keri Glassman. It also has around three to four grams of protein and minerals like calcium and iron. Some brands fortify their oat milk with vitamins. Oatly, for example, contains vitamin D and vitamin A.

“Oats are an incredibly nutritious cereal grain, and oat milk can be a healthy plant-based milk choice,” says Glassman. “It all depends on the brand and variety, so you’ll have to read ingredients lists carefully.”

Is Oat Milk Healthy? A Guide to This Popular Dairy-Free Drink
Is oat milk dairy-free? | Minimalist Baker

How to Make Your Own Oat Milk

According to recipe blog Minimalist Baker, making your own oat milk is easy. All it requires is a spare five minutes, a blender, one cup of rolled oats, and four cups of water. Blend together and then strain through a towel or t-shirt.

The blog recommends rolled oats instead of steel-cut oats, because the latter are “too unprocessed,” resulting in milk that’s not as creamy. “Rolled oats are just right,” says Minimalist Baker. “[They] make nice and creamy oat milk.”

6 of the Best Oat Milk Brands

As oat milk has soared in popularity, more and more brands have launched their own versions. Even supermarkets — like Morrisons and Asda — now offer own-brand vegan oat milk, alongside the classic soya, almond, and coconut flavors. Here are six of the best oat milk brands to try, if you don’t feel like making your own.

Is Oat Milk Healthy? A Guide to This Popular Dairy-Free Drink
Oatly has fans all over the world. | Oatly

1. Oatly

Swedish brand Oatly is arguably one of the most popular and well-known oat milk brands on the market. It was founded back in the 1990s but started to gain traction in the last few years after a massive rebranding and international distribution. Now, it has fans all over the world.

To keep up with demand in the U.S., it opened a 19,000-square foot processing facility in New Jersey. One of its biggest markets is in the UK, and it hopes to open a factory there in the future. CEO Toni Petersson said back in June 2019, “we’re planning for more factories and we’re looking at the UK because it’s such a big market for us.”

The brand’s products include a barista edition, an extra creamy version, and chocolate-flavored oat milk.

Is Oat Milk Healthy? A Guide to This Popular Dairy-Free Drink
Alpro offers a variety of oat milk drinks.

2. Alpro

Founded back in 1980, Alpro offers a wide variety of dairy-free products, including Greek-style yogurt and coconut ice cream. It’s widely known for its huge array of vegan milk products; it offers everything from soy to coconut to hazelnut and even rice. It also has a selection of oat milk products.

Customers can opt for Oat Chocolate, Oat Unsweetened, and, of course, Oat Orginal. The latter is low in fat, rich in fiber, and contains vitamin B2, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.

Is Oat Milk Healthy? A Guide to This Popular Dairy-Free Drink
Elmhurst went vegan more than two years ago.

3. Elmhurst

Former dairy brand Elmhurst went vegan in 2017 after CEO Henry Schwartz — grandson of the company’s founder — went plant-based. He told NPR in January 2018, “we are at the helm of a radical shift in food technology.”

The brand now offers hazelnut milk, walnut milk, cashew milk, and several different types of oat milk, including chocolate, blueberry, and vanilla flavors. Its original flavor has received rave reviews. One customer wrote on the brand’s website, “I absolutely love this product. I am lactose intolerant and this milk has let me enjoy cereal again.”

Is Oat Milk Healthy? A Guide to This Popular Dairy-Free Drink
Califia Farms offers Unsweeteed and Barista Blend Oatmilk.

4. Califia Farms

According to Califia Farms, its vegan milk products produce 60 to 80 percent fewer greenhouse gases than cow’s milk. It has a range of climate-friendly products to choose from, including two different types of oat milk: Barista Blend and Unsweetened. According to the brand, the former “steams beautifully” and “perfectly pairs with coffee.”

Is Oat Milk Healthy? A Guide to This Popular Dairy-Free Drink
Pacific Foods offers a range of dairy-free beverages.

5. Pacific Foods

Pacific Foods was founded back in 1987, as a co-packer of tofu and soy milk products. Now, it offers a wide range of own-brand products, including almond beverages, hazelnut beverages, hemp beverages, and coconut beverages. It offers two varieties of oat milk: original and vanilla. They’re a source of calcium and vitamin D.

Is Oat Milk Healthy? A Guide to This Popular Dairy-Free Drink
Planet Oat specializes in oat milk.

6. Planet Oat

As you would expect from its name, Planet Oat has a multitude of oat milk drinks to choose from, including Original, Extra Creamy, Vanilla, and Dark Chocolate. You can buy its products on Amazon Fresh.