Dieticians Warn That Your Oat Milk Latte Isn’t As Healthy As You Think

I’m not necessarily lactose intolerant, but I do know my body feels a lot better when I limit the amount of dairy I have. And, since I literally have to have an iced latte in the morning to get my day started (I’m addicted, okay?!), I always go for a non-dairy milk alternative. Oat milk is my personal fav, and I find it to be a healthy and tasty choice. However, one study claims we all need to back away from the Califia Farms (or whatever your brand of choice) because oat milk isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Here’s what you need to know.

  1. A group of scientists at the University of Minnesota’s Nutrition Coordinating Center came together to analyze more than 200 brands of plant-based milk including almond, soy, and oat from 20 different brands you can commonly find on supermarket shelves.
  2. What they wanted to know was how much protein, calcium, and Vitamin D were in each of the plant-based milks. However, they found that nine out of 10 non-dairy milks they tested fell short in comparison to how much of each of those important nutrients is contained in cow’s milk.
  3. According to epidemiologist and lead study author Dr. Abigail Johnson, the only conclusion is that plant-based milks, particularly oat milk, aren’t really all that healthy. “Our results provide evidence that many plant-based milk alternatives are not nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk,” she said (via The Telegraph).
  4. Johnson added that anyone who exclusively uses plant-based milks may need to take supplements to ensure they’re not missing out on any important vitamins and minerals. “Based on these findings, consumers should look for plant-based milk alternative products that list calcium and vitamin D as ingredients,” she continued. “They may also want to consider adding other sources of calcium and vitamin D to their diets.” “Product labeling requirements and dietary guidance to the public are among the approaches that may be helpful in alerting and educating consumers.”
  5. You have to take the findings with a grain of salt. I hate to be cynical here, but did Big Milk fund this study? Because it sure seems like it. First of all, I don’t think anyone is relying solely on plant-based milks to provide all of the nutrition they get in their diets. People do eat actual food — hopefully full of fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, and protein sources — and milk of any kind is supplemental. Who’s existing solely on endless amounts of milk? It’s a scare tactic that’s totally unnecessary.
  6. Oat milk is a great alternative to dairy milk for many different reasons. For one, it tends to be fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Sure, maybe they don’t put as much in as is in cow’s milk, but it’s still there. It can also be a good source of fiber, which we can all use more of. It’s also great for lactose-intolerant people, is vegan and cruelty-free, is cholesterol-free (gotta hit up that heart health), and is easy to digest. I’m not seeing a downside here!
  7. Maybe you don’t like oat milk, and that’s cool. There are plenty of other plant-based milks out there to choose from, so there’s sure to be one you like. They all share the same advantages as oat milk and they allow those with dairy allergies to enjoy “milk” without negative consequences.
  8. Of course, dairy milk is fine too. Sure, it’s not great for the environment and many cows aren’t treated well, but it’s possible to buy organic milk from farmers that treat their animals with dignity. If you like it and it doesn’t bother you, go for it. But let’s not yuck someone else’s yum when it comes to oat milk. I, for one, will continue to kick back with my oat milk. Not only is it kinder to the planet, but it also tastes pretty damn good.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill