Oat Milk vs. Almond Milk In Coffee: Which Should You Add?

Written by Claire Hannum
Medically Reviewed by Felicia Newell, RD

July 17, 2023

It’s tempting to lump all non-dairy milks into one category. I mean…they all kind of look the same, right? The reality is, they do have differences, which we will discuss here. 

Whether you’re sipping on rice milk, hemp milk, cashew milk, or even pea milk, each has its own distinct nutritional profile, taste...and potential drawbacks. So how do you choose which non-dairy milk to use in your coffee?

For most people, the choice comes down to almond milk vs. oat milk. And by the end of this article, you'll see which one is the clear winner.

Why Oat Milk Isn't All It's Hyped Up to Be

Not all oat milks are the same. Some have more additives than others. But one thing rings true time and time again: nearly every oat milk option has a significantly higher amount of carbs than its counterparts.

Depending on the brand, one cup of unsweetened oat milk can have as many as 17 grams of carbs—significantly more than almond milk, which has just 1 to 3.5 grams. Not only that, but a large portion of those carbs are starch: one cup of whole oats (not in milk form) consists of 57.9% starch (1).

The issue with this is that many modern starches are refined, meaning that they can cause blood sugar elevations—even if they’re classified as “healthier” complex carbs (2). Blood sugar spikes can make you feel tired, cranky, and downright hungry (3). A diet heavy in refined starch can increase your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, so it’s important to consider the overall dietary pattern (4, 5, 6, 7).

An additional concern around oat milk is that many oat products on the market have been found to be associated with Roundup Weed Killer. You might recognize Roundup’s name from the many public-facing lawsuits filed against its parent company for the product’s links to cancer, however it is important to note that in many of these cases it is workers who were in close contact with spraying glyphosate for many years (11).

Roundup’s most well-known ingredient is glyphosate. It’s the most widely used herbicide in the world (12). In 2015, the World Health Organization classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (13). Research has linked glyphosate to cancer, neurological diseases, birth defects, changes in gut bacteria, and endocrine disruption (14, 15, 16, 17, 18). In addition to glyphosate, Roundup can contain heavy metals, including arsenic, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and development issues in children (19, 20).

A 2021 study found glyphosate in oat products, including popular brands like Quaker and Nature Valley (21). And just this year, a consumer study found that 2 of 13 popular oat milk brands contained detectable levels of glyphosate or arsenic (22). 

The study found traces of glyphosate and arsenic in Malk Organic Oat Milk. It also found glyphosate in Silk Extra Creamy oat milk. Some experts attribute these ingredients to something called pre-harvest desiccation, a money-saving move in which Roundup is sprayed on crops late in the season to speed up the crops’ drying out.

While many commercially sold oat milks are fortified with vitamin B, vitamin D, and vitamin E—you can get those vitamins elsewhere without dealing with the beverage’s potential downsides (23).

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Almond Milk: A Safer Option

Next time you’re stirring up an iced coffee, switch your oat milk for almond milk.

Almond milk contains more calcium than oat milk, less sodium, and fewer carbs. On average, most brands of unsweetened almond milk contain only 1 to 3.5 grams of carbs (24, 25)! One cup of unsweetened oat milk contains anywhere from 45 to 130 calories, while a cup of unsweetened almond milk contains just 30 to 60 calories (26).

Almond milk is an amazing natural source of vitamin E, which may help decrease your risk of heart disease and cancer while boosting the health of your eyes and bones (27, 28, 29). Many brands of almond milk are also fortified with vitamin D, which is vital to bone strength, immunity, and heart function (30). Almond milk also stacks up great against cow’s milk: it contains less saturated fat, and research indicates that it could be an effective cow’s milk replacement for many people (31).

Essentially, almond milk has most of the benefits of oat milk (and more) without the additional carbs (so we can look to getting more nutritious carbs from other places), or worry of contamination with potentially harmful chemicals.

Double Check Nutrition Labels

No matter which plant-based milk you choose, there’s an important universal tip to follow to ensure that you’re drinking a good one: read the nutrition panel.

“Plant-based milks vary a lot with their nutrition content,” explains Sharon Collison, a registered dietitian and instructor of clinical nutrition at the University of Delaware. The nutritional content (and added sugar) can vary from brand to brand.

That said, there are three things to look for on your milk's nutrition label:

  • Grams of sugar (ideally it’s 0)
  • Grams of carbs (ideally it’s less than 3)
  • No added seed oils (like sunflower oil and canola oil)

Steering clear of these things will ensure that your milk won’t cause any unnecessary spikes in blood sugar, nor lead to silent inflammation in the body.

Close-up shot of woman pouring coffee from French press into a clear coffee mug with a jar of NativePath Coffee Creamer next to it

Swap Out Milk Altogether With NativePath Creamer

Want a healthy alternative to the sugary, chemical-filled coffee creamers? This 2-in-1 formula combines collagen & MCT powder to give you an added boost.

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The Bottom Line

When choosing between oat milk vs almond milk in coffee, most coffee drinkers would be better off choosing almond milk. Oat milk may contain unnecessary refined carbs or even potentially harmful chemicals. They’re also higher in starch, which may lead to blood sugar spikes if consumed on their own, without adequate protein and fiber to slow absorption.

If you’re looking for an even better alternative to your regular coffee creamer, try NativePath Collagen Creamer. Each scoop adds creamy, delicious flavor for a latte-like experience, without the sugar or artificial ingredients. Our signature blend of MCT Powder and Grass-Fed Collagen not only supports energy, focus, and metabolism, but healthy hair, skin, nails, bones, and joints, too. (Plus, the MCT Powder adds an irresistible frothiness to your coffee.)

Claire Hannum
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Claire Hannum

Claire Hannum is a New York City-based writer, editor, wellness seeker, and reiki practitioner. Her writing has appeared in Self, Health, Prevention, and over a dozen other publications.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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