Evidence-Based, Simplified Nutrition and Lifestyle Strategies


Is Oat Milk Good for You?

is oat milk good for you

Is Oat Milk Good for You?

is oat milk good for you

Plant-based milk has continued to gain popularity in the United States, with nearly 64% of adults having tried one of these non-dairy alternatives. Plant-based milk sales grew by 6.4% in 2022 accounting for a market value of almost $2.3 billion. Consumer reports and market data illuminate that taste and health are the main drivers for choosing non-dairy milk options. The health benefits being propagated include the common belief that non-dairy milk is easier to digest, coinciding with the rising interest in gut health among consumers. Another driving factor for plant-based milk is sustainability– people who drink plant-based milk weekly are reported more likely to see climate change as a critical threat. However, only one-third of frequent plant-based milk drinkers cite environmental responsibility as a major decision driver. 


But is oat milk good for you?


Why are we being told that oat milk, and other plant-based milk, are better than animal milk? And where are people getting the idea that these non-dairy alternatives are more sustainable for the environment? While oat milk is a popular plant-based milk alternative, it isn’t an ideal substitute for animal milk in terms of health and the environment. 


Update: A new study released concluding that cow’s milk is superior to plant-based milk in nutrition. Researchers analyzed over 200 plant-based milk alternatives and compared them to cow’s milk, reporting significant differences in protein and nutritional content. Of course, the carnivore community isn’t surprised, but when major news outlets such as Newsweek, New York Post, CBS, and Yahoo share this information, we call it a win.


How Is Oat Milk Made?


how oat milk is made


If we think simplistically, oat milk is not natural. For one, Oatly, along with other popular brands of oat milk, uses rapeseed or canola oil to emulsify oats into a stable liquid form. Most oat milk on the market contains one or more types of vegetable oils. Vegetable oils, including canola oil, are highly processed, often rancid, and very inflammatory.


Canola oil is extracted by heating crushed canola seeds that have been dissolved in hexane solvent. Hexane has been shown to have acute toxicity from both ingestion and inhalation exposure. Once extracted, it is refined with water precipitation and organic acid to remove gums and fatty acids and then chemically bleached to remove the color. Since it has to undergo caustic refining, bleaching, and degumming, all of this involves questionably high temperatures and chemicals.


Canola oil is high in omega-3 acids, which become rancid and foul-smelling with oxygen and high-temperature exposure, requiring deodorization. The deodorization process removes a significant portion of omega-3 fatty acids by transforming them into trans fatty acids. The finished product is a highly inflammatory, chemically-laced, rancid oil that’s found not only in plant-based milk but also in most processed foods. 


Another common ingredient found in oat milk and other plant-based alternatives is gums. These can include gellan gum, locust bean gum, xanthan gum, guar gum, and more. Gums are becoming very popular in processed foods as they can be utilized affordably for thickening, emulsifying, and stabilizing products. However, numerous studies show that consuming gums on a regular basis leads to significant gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Artificial fillers and preservatives that can cause adverse health effects are also quite commonly found in oat milk and other plant milk varieties. 


Many commercial oat milks include added sugars. Oats already naturally contain a type of sugar called maltose, which has a glycemic index of 105 that’s even higher than pure glucose. Oat milk has the highest carbohydrate content among all plant-based milk due to the existing starch content in oats. Excessive carbohydrate and sugar intake are one of the principal factors for driving the development of chronic conditions such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. 


The Problem With Oats


oat milk bad for you


In addition to the many filler ingredients found in commercial oat milk, oats themselves can be a particularly problematic grain. Even if you’re making your own oat milk or purchasing a filler-free version, it’s important to consider the following. In addition to the high glycemic index, oats are often contaminated with other toxins. 


Theoretically, oats are naturally gluten-free. However, cross-contamination during farming and processing practices can lead to measurable gluten content throughout commercial oats. The limit for labeling something gluten-free in the US is 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten to the total product. That’s why studies analyzing gluten content in commercial oats have found they’re not safe for individuals with Celiac disease. One study found up to 40% gluten contamination across oat flour, rolled oats, and instant oats with gluten-free labels. Several studies demonstrate that gliadins, a component of gluten, can enhance intestinal permeability through the activation of zonulin even in individuals without Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.


Oats are high in phytic acid, a plant anti-nutrient that binds to minerals, making them unabsorbable in the body. Oats are also commonly contaminated with mold mycotoxins, specifically a species called ochratoxin A (OTA). Another point of concern is that oats are particularly likely to be contaminated with glyphosate which is a known carcinogen.


Does Oat Milk Have Lectins?

Oats are known to have a high lectin content. Lectins are a type of plant anti-nutrient that are highly resistant to the body’s digestive enzymes and can easily pass through the stomach unchanged. Lectins have been linked to a variety of health concerns such as impaired nutrient absorption, increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut), altered gut bacteria, and the pathogenesis of certain autoimmune conditions


Comparing the Nutrition Between Oat Milk and Animal Milk

oat milk vs dairy milk


Oat milk is often a replacement for cow’s milk, yet has the lowest amount of protein compared to other plant-based alternatives such as almond or soy milk. When comparing the two, the most significant difference is in the nutrition profile– cow’s milk delivers eight grams of protein in an eight-ounce glass while oat milk generally delivers an average of four grams depending on the brand. Dairy milk also provides 13 essential nutrients while oat milk generally has five, all of which are fortified. 


oat milk nutritional profile


Oat milk and all other plant-based alternatives don’t contain adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids. This means that amino acids or protein usage will only be used to the amount of the lowest amino acid available. You need all nine. Limiting amino acids are essential amino acids that are present in the shortest supply relative to the amounts needed for protein synthesis in the body. When an essential amino acid is not provided in adequate amounts in the diet, protein synthesis is limited to the rate at which the essential amino acid is available. Leucine and methionine are two limiting amino acids in plant-based proteins. So unless you’re eating a variety of proteins to cover the limiting amino acid, you are not getting the protein grams listed on the plant-based ingredients label. Cow’s milk, in addition to other animal milk, is rich in all nine essential amino acids. You get all the protein grams listed on the carton, making it far more bioavailable. You also get high-quality, unadulterated healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. 


Cow’s Milk: The Real Sustainable Option

There are fear-mongering conversations about cows ruining the planet. If environmental concerns are one of your driving factors for purchasing oat milk and other plant-based alternatives, it’s important to understand that all of these plant-based options are doing much more harm to the planet. Oats, almonds, soy, and other common bases for plant milk are all raised through mono-crop agriculture. Mono-crop agriculture is responsible for causing the soil to become less fertile and eventually sterile over time. Soils depleted of nutrition cannot produce crops. Mono-crop agriculture also relies on a heavy amount of pesticides and chemical-based fertilizers. For crops to be successfully raised this way, millions of wild animals and smaller creatures are killed each year for the preparation and maintenance of the farmland.  


Choose Your Milk Wisely

So, why are we drinking a grain with limited nutrition and problematic ingredients, and paying top dollar for it? Oat milk isn’t as nutritious as whole oats– both contain anti-nutrients, but if you really like oat milk, it’s better to soak the oats at home and make a homemade recipe without any added sugars, seed oils, gums, artificial ingredients, or preservatives. Or, you can consider animal milk or, ideally, raw milk. For those with dairy sensitivities, exploring A2 milk, raw milk, and goat milk may offer more suitable options. Gut healing and root cause support may also be required prior to being able to tolerate dairy milk in your diet.


Work With Our Trusted Carnivore Diet Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioners

The Nutrition with Judy practice is honored to be a trusted carnivore diet practitioner support serving clients from around the globe. We’re passionate about helping our clients achieve root-cause healing in order to lead the best quality of life possible that’s nearly symptom-free. Our team is dedicated to educating our community about the incredible benefits of the carnivore diet. We welcome you to explore our free resources and are always available to support you through personalized protocols. Our Symptom Burden Assessment (SBA) is the perfect starting point for discovering your root cause and is required to work with our team— you can learn more in-depth about this powerful tool here.

Start your root-cause healing journey today and contact us any time with any questions or concerns.


DISCLAIMER: This content is for educational purposes only. While we are board-certified in holistic nutrition and are nutritional therapy practitioners, we are not providing medical advice. Whenever you start a new diet or protocol, always consult with your trusted practitioner first.

Nutrition with Judy


  • Tom M
    July 29, 2023 at 7:38 am

    I tried oat milk for over a year. The costs are prohibitive. I always wonder how pure the water is. I am now back on regular milk, but not every day.

  • Erin
    July 29, 2023 at 10:46 am

    I used to give my kids oat milk until about a year ago when I started learning how horrible it is. We switched to coconut milk due to dairy sensitivities (cow & goat), I’d love to see an article comparing cow milk to coconut milk. From the research I’ve done on my own it seems to be not as bad as oat or almond but then again my information could be wrong.

  • DJ Casanovas
    January 18, 2024 at 11:20 am

    I think your pros and cons list is a little skewed, there are more pros to oat milk than mentioned and additional cons to whole cows milk. Here is a 2023 study that goes into depth on the differences in oat and cows milk. There are benefits to oat milk like fiber, and cons to cow’s milk.

    “Epidemiological evidence has shown that the risk of Parkinson’s disease, a common disease among elderly individuals, is associated with the consumption of dairy products, possibly because galactose causes neuropathological changes, and drinking two glasses of milk a day may reach the risk dose (Sarni & Baroni, 2019).”

    Oat milk analogue versus traditional milk: Comprehensive evaluation of scientific evidence for processing techniques and health effects

    Not saying oat milk is not problematic but to be fair cow’s milk is not without its issues when it comes to nutrition, sustainability, and morally speaking.

  • Randy Williams
    January 22, 2024 at 11:19 am

    I am 1000% sure Dr. Gundry would disagree with you.

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