The Healthiest Oat Milk Brands In The U.S.

Healthiest oat milk brands

Oat milk’s creamy texture and naturally sweet taste have endeared many, but with an array of brands on the market, which reigns supreme in health and nutrition?

Oatly and Elmhurst stand out for their minimal processing, fortification, flavor, and eco-friendly credentials. For a budget-friendly alternative, Trader Joe’s is a commendable choice.

Dive in as we explore and compare the top brands for the title of the healthiest oat milk brand in the US.

Oat Milk in The U.S.

In the realm of dairy alternatives, oat milk has carved a significant niche. Recent statistics indicate a sharp rise in oat milk sales, surpassing even almond and soy in certain markets. 

Oat milk has been championed for health, wellness, and convenience.

Milk alternatives aren’t new. From almond to soy, consumers have sought different options either out of necessity (lactose intolerance) or preference. 

However, oat milk, with its natural sweetness and versatile use, has surged ahead in recent years. 

In the US alone, oat milk sales have witnessed impressive year-over-year growth, making it a prominent fixture in grocery aisles.

Health Benefits of Oat Milk

Apart from being lactose-free, oat milk brings a treasure trove of benefits.

It’s a source of soluble fiber, particularly beta-glucans, known to support heart health. 

Plus, oats have natural antioxidant properties and can be beneficial for skin, making oat milk a holistic health beverage. 

But, with all of the many oat milk brands available in the US, which one is the healthiest? 

Understanding What We Mean By ‘Healthiest’

To gauge the ‘healthiest,’ we need to dive into two primary considerations. 

First, the most natural, least-processed variants of oat milk. Second, versions fortified with essential vitamins and minerals that complement a balanced diet.

These two considerations are important to discuss because the purest form of oat milk is simply oats and water. 

While the absence of preservatives, emulsifiers added sugars and oils is very healthy, the added vitamins and minerals in other oat milk products may suit some health needs better. 

what is oat milk made of - oat farm

Oat Cultivation: The Foundation

Before the creamy beverage graces our cups, oats embark on a growth journey. 

Predominantly, the Midwest and Northern Plains states, like Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, are pivotal oat-growing regions in the U.S. 

The cooler climates and well-drained soils here provide the perfect environment for oats to thrive. 

When cultivated, oats are sown in the spring and harvested in late summer. Their short growth cycle reduces their dependence on extensive water resources, further accentuating their eco-friendly appeal.

oat storage tanks farm

From Grain to Glass: Making Oat Milk

Ever wondered how this cereal grain transforms into a liquid delight? Here’s a brief overview:

  • Soaking: Whole oats are soaked in water, softening them and allowing their starches to be more accessible.
  • Blending: The soaked oats are then blended with water, creating a thick, creamy mixture.
  • Straining: This mixture is passed through a fine strainer or cheesecloth. What passes through is the oat milk. The solid residue, often referred to as ‘oat pulp‘, can be utilized in baking or as animal feed.
  • Flavoring and Fortifying: To enhance taste and nutritional value, natural sweeteners, salts, and sometimes vitamins & minerals, are added.
  • Pasteurization: To ensure longevity and safety, the oat milk undergoes pasteurization, a process of heating it to eliminate any harmful microbes.
  • Packaging: Once pasteurized, the oat milk is ready for packaging and distribution.

Environmental Impact

Here’s where oat milk truly shines. Brands like Oatly and Califa Farms have been transparent about their carbon footprint. 

Oats require minimal water, making them drought-resistant. Compared to almond farming, oat cultivation significantly reduces strain on water resources. 

Additionally, the land efficiency of oats surpasses that of dairy farms, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Healthiest oat milk brands

Oat Milk Brands Overview

The US market is full of oat milk options. Some have rich histories, while others are newer entrants:

  • Oatly: A Swedish-origin brand known for its barista blend and transparent sustainability practices. They revolutionized the oat milk scene.
  • Califa Farms: Born in California’s Central Valley, they combine innovation with farm-fresh ingredients. Their unsweetened version is a crowd favorite.
  • Silk: With over 40 years in the plant-based industry, Silk transitioned their expertise into crafting delicious oat milk.
  • Planet Oat: A newcomer, yet its flavor profile resonates with many, especially bakers.
  • Pacific Foods: Prioritizes organic ingredients.
  • Elmhurst: Renowned for its minimalistic approach, using few ingredients.
  • Oatsome: Offers a gluten-free variant.
  • Chobani: Beyond yogurts, their oat milk has a uniquely smooth texture.
  • Trader Joe’s: Their private-label oat milk balances quality with affordability.
  • 365 Everyday Value: Whole Foods’ brand that’s wallet-friendly without skimping on taste.

Healthiest from a Processing Perspective

Processing can strip foods of nutrients and introduce additives. Our winner from the list mentioned above:

Elmhurst stands out with its water and oats-only ingredient list, followed closely by brands like Oatsome and Pacific Foods.

Healthiest from a Fortification Perspective

For those looking for extra nutrients:

Silk shines, fortifying its oat milk with calcium, vitamin D, and B12. 

Brands like Chobani and Planet Oat are not far behind, ensuring their beverages supplement typical dietary shortfalls.

Comparing Oat Milk Brands

  • Environmental Impact:
    • Oatly is transparent about its sustainability practices, while Califa Farms focuses on water conservation.
  • Price:
    • For those budgeting, Trader Joe’s and 365 Everyday Value offer affordability. Elmhurst, while pricier, emphasizes quality.
  • Taste and Consistency:
    • Preferences vary, but many applaud Oatly for its unmatched taste and frothiness. Chobani and Planet Oat also receive nods for their creaminess.
  • Flavor Range:
    • Brands like Silk and Planet Oat diversify with flavors from vanilla to dark chocolate.

Nutritional Nuances of Oat Milk

Oat milk’s rise isn’t solely attributed to its environmental benefits or creamy texture but also its nutrition. 

A typical cup of unsweetened oat milk contains:

  • Calories: 90-120
  • Protein: 2-4 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams, predominantly from added oils in some brands to enhance creaminess.
  • Carbohydrates: 16 grams, with a notable portion being natural sugars from oats.
  • Fiber: Oat milk retains a fraction of the original oat’s fiber, especially beta-glucans, known for their cholesterol-lowering effects.
  • Vitamins & Minerals: Many brands fortify their oat milk with calcium, vitamin D, iron, and B vitamins. A fortified cup might offer 20-25% of the daily calcium requirement and about 20% for vitamin D.

However, just like any food product, not all kinds of oat milk are created equal. Flavored versions, especially those with added sugars, can differ significantly in their nutritional profile.

Potential Drawbacks

No product is without its criticisms. Some oat milk variants, especially those striving for a creamier texture, incorporate oils, leading to higher fat content. 

Additionally, flavored versions, though delicious, can pack more sugar than expected. It’s always essential to scan the nutrition label.


Additional Considerations

Pacific Foods often opts for organic ingredients. 

Those dodging gluten might gravitate towards Oatsome since many oat milk brands use manufacturing plants that also handle gluten products. 

Shelf life varies between brands, but most oat milk last 7-10 days after opening, though ultra-pasteurized versions, like some from Califa Farms, last longer.

The Full Package – Top Recommendations

If you seek a blend of minimal processing, fortification, flavor, and eco-friendliness, Oatly and Elmhurst emerge as frontrunners. 

For the budget-conscious, Trader Joe’s offers a stellar compromise.

Final Thoughts

The world of oat milk is vast and varied. The US, with its blend of established brands and innovative startups, occupies a pivotal position in this market. 

For the discerning consumer, understanding labels is crucial. Look out for added sugars, fortifications, and any allergens. 

As oat milk continues to pour its way into American homes, it’s clear: this is more than just a trend; it’s a testament to evolving consumer choices rooted in health and sustainability.

Anne K.

Anne is a passionate health and wellness writer who is dedicated to helping others achieve their best selves through a healthy lifestyle. She believes that small changes can lead to big improvements in overall health and works to provide practical tips and advice that readers can easily incorporate into their daily lives. Through her writing, Anne hopes to inspire and empower readers to take control of their health and live their best lives.

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