Stories from Food and Nutrition

We’ve Officially Reached Peak Oat Milk—so We Asked a Dietitian to Rank the Best Options

Emily Laurence

Emily LaurenceJanuary 3, 2020

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Remember when Oatly was basically the only oat milk brand around? It was so popular that grocery stores had trouble keeping it in stock. That was less than a year ago. Now, oat milk seems to be everywhere. The recent release of Nesquik chocolate oat milk is a sign of its ubiquity—even the milk guzzling rabbit has gone plant-based.

Considering the crowded field, consumers have choices when they shop at their local supermarket. To help figure out which oat milk is the healthiest, I asked registered dietitian Shawn Wells, RD, what he thinks of the five of the most popular brands: Oatly, Pacific Foods, Elmhurst, Silk Oat Yeah!, and Planet Oat.

Everything you need to know about oat milk:

But first I asked for his thoughts on the new Nesquik chocolate oat milk. It is actually healthy? “According to the company, its new dairy alternative health drink closely matches the nutritional value of milk with six grams of protein per serving along with two grams of fiber,” he says. “It uses stevia leaf extract and cane sugar for a natural sweet taste and has 40 percent less sugar than chocolate almond milk. All in all, it’s a decent vegan milk.”

Chocolate oat milk is yummy, but plain is definitely more versatile. Of the five brands, here’s how Wells ranks them in terms of nutrition:

  1. Elmhurst
  2. Planet Oat
  3. Pacific Foods
  4. Oatly
  5. Silk Oat Yeah!

“Of the five, Elmhurst has the cleanest ingredients list—just oats, water, and salt,” sats Wells. That’s why it comes out on top. He’s a fan of Planet Oat, too, because it’s fortified with vitamins and minerals. His one issue with Planet Oat is that he wishes it didn’t contain vegetable oil or gellan gum, which can cause gastric distress in some people.

Pacific Foods ranks right in the middle; Wells likes that it doesn’t have gums or vegetable oil like Planet Oat does, but the nutritional profile isn’t quite as strong. “Both Oatly and Silk Oat Yeah! have oils—rapeseed and sunflower oil, respectively—and Silk Oat Yeah! has gellan gum and locus bean gum, which isn’t ideal,” he says. And while he says Oatly’s ingredients label is pretty clean now, it has been accused in the past of deceiving consumers, something he definitely isn’t into.

“The best, in my opinion, is Elmhurst because it’s plain, simple, and clean,” says Wells. “The fewer ingredients the better—and that goes for all foods.”

These are grocery shopping mistakes even healthy eaters make. And if you’re considering giving your whole diet the plant-based treatment, here are some tips.

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