How Plant-Based Milks Compare to Dairy Milk: Fat, Calories & Protein

What exactly is in these tasty alternatives to whole milk — and are they smart choices?

How Plant-Based Milks Compare to Dairy Milk: Fat, Calories & Protein

Americans spent more than $2.36 billion dollars in 2020 on plant-based milks! More than $1.5 billion was on almond milk, with oat milk jumping into the second-most popular spot, Once-leader of the pack, soy milk, was third-most popular. So what exactly is in these tasty alternatives to whole milk — and are they smart choices?

Almond Milk

Almond milk contains no saturated fat and 2 g mono- and polyunsaturated fats in an 8-ounce glass. Whole milk delivers 7.37 g of fat, with 4.23 g of saturated fat. Unsweetened almond milk also contains just 30 calories, in contrast to whole milk's 136 calories, and serves up 1 g of protein (whole milk has 8 g), 1 g carbs, 450 mg calcium, 160 mg potassium, 150 mcg vitamin A and 200 IU of vitamin D.


Oat Milk

Oat milk delivers 120 calories, 5 g of fat (0.5 g is sat fat), 3 g protein, 22 g carbs per 8-ounce serving, and 2-3 g fiber, although nutrition label info varies from brand to brand.

Soy Milk

Soy milk's popularity has plummeted because of news that its estrogen-like molecules can raise the risk of breast cancer. The Cleveland Clinic says there's no evidence to support that. A serving of soy milk contains 131 calories, 4.3 g fat with 0.5 g sat fat, 15 g carbs, 8 g protein and whatever added vitamins from the manufacturer; the USDA's[7] evaluation says soy milk offers no vitamin A or D.

Bottom Line

Always opt for unsweetened alternative milks, which ever you choose. And experiment with newer options, like pea, pecan, walnut, and cashew milk.

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