Oat Milk vs. Cow Milk: How Do They Compare?

Vanessa Croteau, Dietetic Intern| View Author Bio

Have you seen oat “milk” recently at your favorite coffee spot, grocery store, or at maybe at friend’s house and wanted to know more about it? The creamy texture of oat milk may seem similar to dairy milk, but the nutrition isn’t quite the same.

What is Oat Milk?

Put simply, oat milk is blended oats and water that has been strained to remove the pulp. The remaining liquid does retain some of the original nutrition found in oats, but many manufacturers add additional ingredients.

A simple comparison between an 8-ounce glass of low-fat dairy milk and original oat milk (fortified) highlights that they are not created equal.  Be aware that the nutrient contents can vary between brands.

To be clear, when referring to dairy milk in this post and comparing its nutrients to oat milk, we are specifically talking about cow’s milk.


† Nutrition information varies by brands.

* Indicates nutrient is fortified.

** Varies by brand and can exceed 20g/serving. Total includes sugars made in processing, added sugars, and fiber.

Good Source = 10-19% Daily Value.

Excellent Source = 20%+ Daily Value.

Dairy milk’s naturally occurring form of calcium is more readily absorbed by our bodies to help build bones. It’s also naturally full of other essential nutrients. Non-dairy milk alternatives like oat milk vary in their nutritional profiles and the nutrients are fortified vs. naturally occurring.

For oat milk to have similar properties to dairy milk, companies will add in different additives (such as gellan gum which is used as a binder). American oat milk also has oil added to it to replicate consistency that naturally occurs with dairy’s natural ingredients.

Other Considerations

Oats are not yet grown locally in New England on a large scale and many companies that manufacture oat milk source their oats from farms in places like in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. On the other hand, dairy milk is produced here in all of our New England states.

When you choose dairy milk, you’re supporting local farmers and a product that contributes to a sustainable food system.

When making choices, remember dairy milk is an original farm-to-table food with a simple ingredient list.

For more information on nutrition and how dairy contributes to a sustainable food system, visit our sustainable nutrition page.

Learn how dairy milk compares to other plant-based milks in terms of cost, protein, vitamins, minerals, and effects on human health.

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