Oat milk is becoming the go-to dairy alternative, not just for its creamy and mild taste, but for being dairy, soy and nut free. It is also low, if not free from gluten and like oats, oat drinks are also rich in beta glucans that help promote heart health.Choosing an oat milk may seem daunting at first as there are sweetened, unsweetened and even flavored oat milks. There are also two distinctive types, regular oat, or barista style oat milks, which can be steamed for use in coffee drinks. As well as reviewing a number of oat drinks, this article considers why oat milk is becoming popular, its nutritional profile and some of the safety concerns that you may want to consider when looking at the best oat milk brand available.
For a perfectly frothed latte, the vegan and kosher pack of 12 Natural Foods Barista Series oat milk (32 fl. oz) is our best pick.
For a nitrogen-boosted oat milk latte on the go, 12 Rise Brewing Co. Oat Milk Latte – Nitro Cold Brew Coffee (12.7 fl. oz cans) is our award-winning budget pick.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 8 Best Oat Milk Brands
- 1. Pacific Natural Foods Oat Milk Barista Series
- 2. Rise Brewing Co. Oat Milk Latte – Nitro Cold Brew Latte
- 3. Pacific Foods Organic Oat Vanilla Plant-Based Beverage
- 4. Elmhurst Milked Oats
- 5. Oatly Oat Drink Barista Edition
- 6. Oatly Organic Creamy Oat
- 7. Pacific Foods Organic Oat Original Plant-Based Beverage
- 8. Califia Farms Oat Barista Blend (32 fl. oz)
- Things to Consider Before Buying Oat Milk Drinks
Quick Comparison: Top 8 Best Oat Milk Brands
1. Pacific Natural Foods Oat Milk Barista Series
A vegan, dairy and soy free oat milk, the pack of 12 Natural Foods Barista Series oat milk (32 fl. oz) is also kosher. As a barista oat milk, this is ideal for steaming and using in coffees and was developed with assistant from coffee professionals and expert baristas.This oat milk does contain added sugars and each serving contains 8 grams of total fat and 23 grams of carbs. It has not been fortified with any extra vitamin D and does contain carrageenan as an additive. Some drinkers consider this a thinner oat milk.
2. Rise Brewing Co. Oat Milk Latte – Nitro Cold Brew Latte
Certified organic and GMO and dairy free, the award-winning pack of 12 Rise Brewing Co. Oat Milk Latte – Nitro Cold Brew Coffee (12.7 fl. oz cans) is also free from any artificial sweeteners and gluten. It has been infused with nitrogen to give it a ‘whoosh’ when the can opens as well as a rich and creamy head when poured out.This oat milk coffee is a ready to drink item so although ideal for use in smoothies or cocktails, it cannot be used in the same ways as regular oat milk can be. Some drinkers consider this drink to be a little too sweet. This oat milk latte comes with a satisfaction guarantee and does not need refrigerating before drinking.
3. Pacific Foods Organic Oat Vanilla Plant-Based Beverage
Certified USDA organic, the pack of 12 Pacific Foods oat plant-based beverage vanilla (32 fl. oz) is vegan, soy, lactose and cholesterol free. It also contains vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin D. This oat milk is also suitable to use in cooking.It does not contain any added sugars, preservatives or GMOs and it and comes in BPA-free cartons. Some regular drinkers have commented that this now contains less calcium than it used to, but this has arisen due to a recent change in FDA regulations around calcium and vitamin D recommended daily values. This oat drink also contains carrageenan, yet the consistency may still a be a little thin for some.
4. Elmhurst Milked Oats
Made with a method called HydroRelease to separate and draw the nutrients from the oats, the pack of 6 Elmhurst milked oats (32 fl. oz) has a smooth and creamy consistency without the addition of any emulsifiers. These milked oats are stamped Whole Grains Council and each serving contains 20 grams of whole grain.It is also free from dairy, is kosher and Non-GMO Project Verified. This has been sweetened with cane sugar, so you may find it a little too sweet and some have commented that this does have an aftertaste to it. It may also be thinner than comparable oat milks.
5. Oatly Oat Drink Barista Edition
Free from gluten and dairy, the Oatly oat drink barista edition (33.8 fl. oz) does not contain any added sugar. As a barista oat drink, this is ideal for foaming and using in coffee. This is a fortified milk that uses rapeseed oil. This product can be much more expensive that other oat milks as there are occasional product shortages and it is also an import. There can also be a risk of this being damaged during shipping.
6. Oatly Organic Creamy Oat
The Oatly organic creamy oat cream alternative (8.45 fl. oz) is a vegan low fat dairy alternative containing just 13% fat and no lactose or soy. Suitable for using in the same way as single cream, this alternative can be used in drinks, for cooking and baking. This does cost more than comparable cream alternatives as there can be occasional product shortages and this is currently an imported product.
7. Pacific Foods Organic Oat Original Plant-Based Beverage
The fortified pack of 12 Pacific Foods organic oat plant-based beverage - original (32 fl. oz) is suitable for baking and cooking with as well as drinking. It is low fat and free from cholesterol, lactose, dairy and soy. This drink is USDA certified organic, GMOs are avoided, and its carton is BPA-free.Some consumers are not fond of the taste of this when compared to other oat drinks and some consider it too sweet, although the current recipe for this does not appear to have any added sugars. There can be a risk of these cartons being damaged during shipping.
8. Califia Farms Oat Barista Blend (32 fl. oz)
Free from stabilizers, the pack of 6 Califia Farms oat barista blend (32 fl. oz) is kosher and Non-GMO Project Verified. Dairy free and nut free, it is also free from allergens, soy and gluten. Made from North American gluten free whole rolled oats, it has also been produced unsweetened and is suitable for use with coffees as well as in cooking or baking. The odd buyer has found that it may not froth as well as comparable barista oat milks and likewise, it is not quite as thick.
Things to Consider Before Buying Oat Milk Drinks
Oat milk is made by soaking and blending oats and then straining it to sperate the milk. Because oat milk does not have the same nutritional value as whole oats, it is often enriched or fortified with iron, calcium, potassium and vitamins A and D. One cup of cow’s milk or one cup of a fortified milk would both provide around 20% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A and vitamin D.
Although calorie content can be similar between oat drinks and cow’s milk, oat milk is higher in carbs and fiber than cow’s milk, soy milk or almond milk, although it has less protein than dairy or soy. Oat milk is higher fiber, which as well as helping to maintain heart health, the higher fiber diet is also linked to better weight control and potentially weight loss .
One concern with a number of oat drinks is that they have been sweetened. If you want an unsweetened milk, then look for one labelled as ‘no added sugar’ and also check its nutritional information to make sure there is 0g next to ‘added sugar’. Those which are barista style tend to have more sugar added to give a better consistency to the oat milk as it is being steamed. Flavored oat milks usually contain more sugars as well.
Oat Milk and Diets
As well as being dairy and lactose free, oat milk is also nut and soy free. Although oats are typically gluten free, they are often processed in factories where other grains are processed, which means they can be contaminated with gluten. Some oat milks are available which are certified as being made with gluten free oats and/or in gluten-free processing facilities.
Oat milk is generally safe for babies but as it cannot provide the same nutrition as breast milk or cow’s milk, a baby should only be fed on oat milk with pediatrician guidance.
Oats, Beta Glucans and Heart Health
Like oats, oat milk contains the soluble fiber called beta glucans, although there are still some questions as to whether beta glucans are as ‘potent’ from oat milk as they are from pure oats.
An 8.6 fl. oz glass of oat milk will give one gram of beta glucans. In comparison, a bowl of porridge containing 1.4 oz of oats provides double the amount of beta glucans.
When consumed as part of a diet low in saturated fat, oats can contribute to modest reduction in LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and total cholesterol. For every gram of beta glucans (soluble fiber) consumed, total cholesterol can decrease by about 1.43 mg/dL.
A higher intake of beta glucans (more than 10 g/0.35 oz per day) does not seem to increase its effectiveness though. At present, it is recommended that 3 grams of soluble fiber be taken to lower blood cholesterol levels although some studies show at least 3.6 grams of daily fiber is needed to lower cholesterol.
Oats can also contribute to better health, although only products containing whole oats with at least 750 milligrams of soluble fiber per serving can be labelled as possibly reducing the risk of heart disease. Higher fiber foods are also linked with the possibility of reducing risk of stomach cancer and blood sugar levels.
Glyphosates and Oats
A study undertaken found that all oat food samples tested contained residues of glyphosates – an active ingredient in a leading brand of herbicide. Out of 45 products made from conventionally grown oats, 43 of these tested positive for glyphosates and 31 of these had higher levels than what the Environmental Working Group (EWG) report as being protective of child health.
Discussions continue with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) around a limit on glyphosates for oats used in children’s foods.
Carrageenan in Oat Milk
Carrageenan is used to emulsify and thicken drinks and foods and can often be added to oat milks and nut milks. Carrageenan is also common in vegetarian and vegan products - used in place of gelatin. Carrageenan is a natural additive which comes from red seaweed.
Debate around the safety of carrageenan has been ongoing since the 1960s, as some evidence has shown links with digestive system impairment in the form of bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and food allergies. Carrageenan has also been linked to inflammation which contributes to a number of disorders such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Carrageenan should be food-grade but carrageenan which has degraded becomes carcinogenic. Degraded carrageenan is not approved to use in food but testing of food-grade carrageenan has found a percentage of the samples to be degraded carrageenan.
Unfortunately, as much of the research into carrageenan has been carried out in the laboratory, with most side effects reported by people to have been self-reported, more research is needed to ascertain how strong the link is between carrageenan and health risk.
Carrageenan is still approved for use in food by the FDA and it has to be shown on an ingredients list, although the National Organic Standards Board removed this ingredient from their approved list in 2016. This means that an oat milk certified USDA Organic no longer contains any carrageenan.
Although oat milk is becoming so popular there can be supply shortages at times, there are still some concerns around levels of glyphosates in oats and the use of additives such as carrageenan in some brands. Like whole grain oats though, oat drinks can offer benefits to cholesterol levels and heart health and oat milk is an ideal alternative for those who suffer with intolerances or allergies or have other dietary needs.We hope you found our article interesting and have learned more about why oat drinks are becoming more mainstream. If you converted to oat milk some time ago, or are completely new to this creamy alternative, we do hope that you will now be confident in choosing the best oat milk brand for your needs, whether for brewing the perfect latte or for using in your cooking and baking.