Back to Blog
Jar of oat milk on pink background with oats scattered

Is Oat Milk Bad for You?

oat milk plant-based plant-based milk vegan Mar 05, 2024

It was a seemingly normal day.

I walked into a local coffee shop, my dog Lucy swaying before me.

When I arrived, there were two people ahead of me in line. The employee read their order back and I overheard that the man ordered oat milk in his coffee (I smiled on the inside).

The woman abruptly cut off the employee and insisted it needed to be changed to almond milk. She began talking about how oat milk was "carcinogenic" and told the man that she “just saved his life”. The man was smiling and went along with the milk swap.

As we waited for our drinks, I overheard the woman mention that she needed to get a hen for her yard and that she wanted access to free eggs. I’ll save the topic of backyard eggs for another day. For now I will mention, research has shown eggs may cause certain types of cancer. The irony was a bit much for me.

Now, this is not the first time I’ve heard someone say oat milk was bad. I had no idea what anyone was talking about so as usual, I decided I needed to do some research (so you don’t have to).

Here are the common claims I found about oat milk, and some explanation as to why they are misleading.

Claim #1: Oat Milk Will Spike Your Blood Sugar.

Oats are a carbohydrate (carb) and carbs break down into sugar. There are different types of sugar. Basically, the process to produce oat milk results in the creation of maltose, which has a high glycemic index (GI). If you’re not familiar, GI gives us an idea of how much a specific food boosts blood sugar.

At first glance, you might think that this means consuming oat milk equals a spike in blood sugar. But what this does not consider, is the glycemic load. Glycemic load takes into consideration the amount of food you are consuming. For example, if you’re just adding a bit of oat milk to your cup of coffee it shouldn’t cause a spike. It is important to note that oats themselves have a much lower GI and are a food rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Likewise, if you are adding oat milk to meals like oatmeal, smoothies etc., then just make sure you are consuming a balanced meal with fat and protein. For example, if you cook oatmeal in water then add a bit of oat milk to make it creamy, you can add some nut/seed butter to get a healthy fat and protein source in there and add some fruit for even more fiber. Sprinkle some hemp or flax seeds for extra nutritional value. I also want to note that you can further control the amount of sugar by selecting an unsweetened and unflavored variety of oat milk.

I also want to mention that if you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic, you may want to try another plant-based milk (I highly recommend soy milk). I love soy milk and recommend it to everyone in general, but want to make this note for anyone concerned about sugar consumption due to health. As usual, reach for the unsweetened/unflavored variety. Soy milk is delicious and nutritious (no, it is not bad for you – we will get to that in another post).


  • Be careful with serving size
  • Consume alongside protein, fiber, and healthy fats
  • Opt for an unsweetened/unflavored variety to have more control over sugar content

Claim #2: Oat Milk Causes Bloating and is Bad for You.

Some people online are concerned about oat milk because of added oil, gums, and carrageenan. Let’s break down why these ingredients may be found in some varieties of oat milk in the first place.

Oat milk stans love it for many reasons. One of the top reasons is the creaminess. For those of you who are ordering your oat milk lattes, that creaminess usually comes from oil. When you go to a coffee shop they are probably using the “barista blend” of plant-milk if it is available. These are best used for coffee/tea lattes because they are not only creamy and delicious, but they also froth and steam well. Oil is definitely not a health food so I can understand why people would want to avoid added oils. Like most things, we should take into account how much of it you consume. I also want to mention, not all plant-milk brands add oil to their products.

As far as the added gums and thickeners like carrageenan go, these are used to prevent the plant-milk from separating and can also result in a creamy texture. I will note, not all plant-milk brands use these and some of them specifically have labels like “carrageenan-free” on the carton to help you make the right decision for you.

Some food gums and thickeners can lead to bloating or digestive issues, however there are not many studies done on this. This is one of those situations where you have to see how something makes you feel. Health and what we consume can be very personal. Try reaching for a brand that does not contain these ingredients first. If you are still experiencing any digestive issues due to oat milk, definitely try out another plant-milk (there are so many varieties on the market now!).

As a coach, I also want to note that we can never be perfect, especially when it comes to health. The goal is to try your best and if you want to aim for optimal health, it starts with making small changes. We also want this to be a sustainable lifestyle change for you. If the oat milk you use in your morning coffee is the only one you like, then it’s ok to stick with it.


  • Not all oat milk is created equal – if you’re concerned about added oil, gums, or thickeners, look for a brand that does not contain these
  • Dairy is scary! If taste or texture is your top priority, it’s ok to stick to your preference if it allows you to stay away from dairy
  • Listen to your body - If you don’t feel good consuming one type of plant-based milk, don’t worry - there are countless options on the market!

Claim #3: Oat Milk Contains Glyphosate 

Glyphosate is a popular herbicide used in agriculture and it takes care of weeds. People are concerned that it is linked to health issues like cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is no evidence that Glyphosate harms human health. However, research from the World Health Organization (WHO) states that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic” meaning it may cause cancer. 

I stumbled upon an article that mentions glyphosate has been found in oats and references research done to evaluate some popular oat milk brands. I dug into this a bit more and found this research was ordered by a blogger who partnered with a non-profit organization. They hired a lab to test top oat milk brands and almost all of the brands were free from glyphosate (only two had traces of it).

It is also worth noting that if you want to avoid consuming any residual herbicides/pesticides, you can buy the organic version of products, in this case oat milk and all oat products.


  • Not all oat products contain glyphosate - one research lab found that 11 out of the 13 oat milk brands they tested were glyphosate-free
  • If you’re concerned that glyphosate can harm your health, look for organic oat products

As a final note, I want to mention that I focused on the most common concerns here. Some people online also mentioned they were concerned about calories and overall sugar content. On average we find that oat milk has fewer calories and sugar compared to dairy. This can potentially change depending on the brand or if it is flavored. As always, make sure to look into the specific product and find what works best for you.

I also briefly touched upon this, but from a nutritional standpoint, soy milk is still my number one choice. Opt for an organic and Non-GMO one and try to get unsweetened/plain as much as you can (you may need something creamier if it’s for your coffee, depends on your preference).

Now, I’m going to go and enjoy this oat milk latte.

Get the Tea While it's Hot!

Sign up for the Tea with Tenny Newsletter to get the latest vegan and plant-based news delivered to you. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.