It used to be that we only had a couple of alternatives to dairy milk, but now there is a plethora to choose from.
In this article, we’re exploring oat milk vs pea milk: what kinds of similarities and differences do they have in terms of nutrition, taste, and other factors?
Oat milk and pea milk primarily vary in terms of protein content since pea milk has more grams per serving. Pea milk is also healthier in terms of carb, sugar, and caloric content, although it lacks the fiber found in oat milk.
To learn more about the distinct nutritional differences between these two dairy alternatives, keep reading.
We’re unpacking the vitamin/mineral content in each, comparing their taste and texture, and looking at how they fit into certain diets and allergy restrictions.
We’ll also discuss the main pros and cons of drinking either type of milk, so stick around to the end of the article.
Both oat milk and pea milk are plant-based dairy alternatives that mimic the creaminess of cow’s milk and pack in protein, calcium, and other nutrients.
However, they differ in caloric content and in terms of how healthy they are.
That’s why we’re looking at them side by side to see which one gives you the most protein, vitamins, etc.
Let’s compare the relative nutrients in a one-cup serving of each type of milk:
In a one-cup serving of oat milk, there are roughly 120 calories, whereas the same serving size of pea milk contains about 79 calories.
Because of this stark difference, people following low-calorie diets or eating in caloric deficits for muscle-building purposes may turn to pea milk instead of oat milk.
Pea milk is also often compared to cow’s milk for its caloric content since they’re similar (a cup of 1% cow’s milk has roughly 100 calories).
The upside to pea milk is that it has fewer carbs and sugars in the same amount of calories than cow’s milk does.
On the other hand, oat milk has more calories per serving than cow’s milk, making it a slightly less healthy alternative.
Protein is one of the biggest distinguishing factors between pea and oat milk.
Pea milk contains a whopping 8 g of protein per one-cup serving, while oat milk only has about 3 g in the same serving size.
And with fewer calories, pea milk poses a more enticing option for those wanting to pack in protein and meet their daily macros of about 2 g of protein per kg of body weight.
Furthermore, the 8 g of protein in one cup of pea milk is comparable to the protein content in one cup of cow’s milk (about 8 g).
This makes pea milk a suitable alternative to dairy if you’re looking specifically at protein content.
When we compare the fat content in a single serving of oat milk vs pea milk, they’re relatively similar.
Each cow’s milk alternative has about 5 g of fat per one-cup serving.
Note that peas are naturally high in fat content, so drinking pea milk is going to be higher in fat than drinking certain cow’s milk products.
Peas are also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids - a healthy kind of unsaturated fat that promotes good cell health, brain health, and cardiovascular health.
On the other hand, oat milk doesn’t typically contain Omega-3 fatty acids. The fat content found in oat milk comes from lipid fats instead.
In terms of carbs, pea milk has roughly 2 g of carbohydrates per one-cup serving.
Oat milk has roughly 16 g of carbohydrates per one-cup serving.
This stark difference is a big reason why some people see pea milk as the healthier option, especially if you’re on a low-carb diet like the keto diet.
Of those carbohydrates, pea milk has about 0 g of sugar per cup serving. Oat milk has about 7 g of sugar per cup serving (this is one reason that it’s naturally sweeter).
Oat milk outnumbers pea milk in terms of fiber content, though, with about 2 g of fiber per cup serving (pea milk has closer to 0 g of fiber).
Studies show that having a high-fiber diet can sometimes lead to bloating and gassiness, which is why some people might opt for pea milk instead of oat milk.
Both pea milk and oat milk are great sources of calcium, which is a plus if the whole reason you drink milk is for the calcium.
Oat milk has about 350 mg of calcium per one-cup serving, while pea milk has about 451 mg of calcium per one-cup serving.
Calcium is essential for skeleton mineralization (bone health), especially in women.
Many people drink cow’s milk for its calcium content (about 300 mg per cup of 1% cow’s milk).
So if you need a plant-based alternative to dairy, both pea milk and oat milk are good options.
Other Vitamins and Minerals
Depending on the product you’re buying, both pea and oat milk have differing vitamin content.
Pea milk sometimes has to have vitamins supplemented, whereas oat milk is naturally rich in Vitamin B12 (1.2 µg per one-cup serving). Other vitamins you may find in oat and/or pea milk include Vitamin A and Vitamin D.
In terms of minerals, other than calcium, both pea and oat milk contain some potassium content.
Pea milk has about 470 mg per cup, while oat milk has about 389 mg per cup.
And oat milk typically doesn’t have sodium, but pea milk does (close to 139 mg per one-cup serving).
Many people wonder how these two kinds of milk differ in terms of taste.
The most notable difference is in terms of the sweetness, but how else do they distinguish themselves from each other?
Oat milk is naturally sweeter than pea milk because it has higher sugar content.
In terms of flavor, oat milk has a slightly nutty yet mild flavor, and some drinkers believe that it compares to the flavor of cow’s milk.
Unless you specifically buy sweetened pea milk, it likely won’t taste very sweet. This is because unsweetened pea milk is already sugar-free.
Pea milk generally doesn’t have much of a distinct flavor since it isn’t nutty or sweet.
However, it also doesn’t taste like peas, which some people worry about when adding it to coffee and cereal.
Plant-based milks also differ from dairy in terms of their texture and relative smoothness.
Oat milk is known for being smooth and creamy in texture.
It’s not quite as thick as cow’s milk, but it does work well in coffee, lattes, and other beverages that take milk.
Oat milk can have a tendency to be pulpy and in need of shaking due to the small oat particles.
This is especially true when it comes to homemade oat milk, which separates when you chill it in the refrigerator.
Pea milk’s texture is known for being especially thick and creamy.
You don’t have to worry about pea milk having the chalky or gritty texture of other plant-based kinds of milk, and it’s generally not watery in nature.
If you want to see a real-life taste test of pea milk, check out this video from Cooking Light:
Allergen and Dietary Information
Oat milk and dairy milk are great for those with lactose intolerance.
However, you still should be aware of their comparative allergen content, as well as how they fit into certain diets like the paleo diet, keto diet, etc.
Pea milk is a great non-dairy milk option if you have food allergies.
Pea milk is free of pretty much every food allergen since it has no soy, lactose, gluten, oats, tree nuts, peanuts, or eggs.
Furthermore, pea milk is less likely to be cross-contaminated with gluten in the production process since it isn’t another grain like oats are.
Oat milk, on the other hand, is free of the following food allergens:
- Tree nuts
Note that oat milk isn’t free of oats, and some people do exhibit oat sensitivities if they also have celiac disease.
Furthermore, oats can undergo cross-contamination of gluten in the production process, which you have to be wary of.
Additionally, both oat milk and pea milk share the potential risk of having certain preservatives or additives added to them that contain gluten.
So, you always need to check the product label carefully.
Pea milk is made from peas, which are legumes. Technically, legumes are not allowed on a paleo diet. However, some people say peas are find in moderation on a paleo diet.
Oat Milk Pros & Cons
Now that you’re aware of the nutritional profile of oat milk, its taste, its texture, and how it compares to pea milk and cow’s milk, consider the pros and cons of drinking it.
Most people enjoy oat milk for its accessibility, popularity, and taste that compliments lattes and other coffee drinks.
It has a natural sweetness that isn’t rivaled by many other plant-based kinds of milk and easily works as a substitute for cow’s milk in recipes, cereal, and other dishes.
What’s more is that you can find oat milk on most grocery store shelves these days, right next to the almond milk and soy milk, which are also popular.
And of course, you can’t ignore the positive nutritional aspects of oat milk, including:
- High in fiber - fiber promotes healthy digestion and aids in stool production
- High in Vitamin B12 - B12 is an important vitamin that helps to produce serotonin and regulate mood
- Rich in other vitamins - some oat milk products are fortified with Vitamin D and Vitamin A
- Zero saturated fats - reducing saturated fat intake is linked to fewer cardiovascular events
- Zero cholesterol - cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular health problems
- Rich in calcium and potassium - good for bone, muscle, and nerve health
Oat milk is also vegan-friendly, vegetarian-friendly, and a good choice for those with common food allergies, such as lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, nut allergies, etc.
Although oat milk has many benefits, compared to pea milk, it is a lot higher in fat, calories, sugar, and carbohydrates.
It also isn’t as friendly to those with allergies since it does contain oats (a food allergen for some) and can be cross-contaminated with gluten during production.
Further, if you aren’t a fan of the sweet, nutty taste when you add oat milk to meals like breakfast cereal, then you might not enjoy this dairy alternative.
Pea Milk Pros & Cons
We can also assess the relative pros and cons of drinking pea milk, which seems to be the healthier of the two dairy alternatives.
Pea milk is a beneficial dairy alternative primarily because it is free of food allergens, vegan-friendly, and vegetarian-friendly.
Pea milk is lower in carbs, sugar, fat, and calories than oat milk is, and it has a lot of protein in comparison.
This is great for those who are dieting or trying to boost their protein intake for exercise purposes.
Other pros of pea milk include:
- Thick, creamy texture and neutral taste
- Rich in calcium and potassium
- Less prone to cross-contamination of allergens
One downside of pea milk is that it doesn’t contain the dietary fiber that you’ll find in oat milk.
Unfortunately, pea milk isn’t very sweet since it doesn’t contain sugars, so you have to buy sweetened pea milk to get that taste.
It also contains some sodium and is harder to find in stores since it’s still pretty new to the market.
Have you been wondering about the differences between oat milk vs pea milk?
Hopefully, our guide has helped you get to the bottom of the comparison, noting the nutritional, flavor, texture, and allergen/dietary differences between the two.
Pea milk is healthier when compared to oat milk, although both kinds of milk are nutrient-dense and great plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk.
Further, they both have health benefits to avail when consumed regularly.
To learn more about the benefits and downsides of different kinds of dairy alternatives, check out our other articles!