Food Industry Nutrition

Is Oatly ice-cream healthy? | Non-dairy ice-cream

Delicious non-dairy oat milk may have made Oatly a household name, but it’s their diverse product range of vegan yogurts, custards, and even dairy-free cream cheese that’s made them one of the most exciting brands of the moment.

And now, there is Oatly oat ice-cream, their most recent – and cereal-ously tempting – addition to their line-up.

But is it as good as their other Oatly products? Or is their non-dairy ice-cream just another wannabe Halo Top?

Let’s soak up the facts together.

What ingredients are in Oatly ice-cream?

There are six flavours in the Oatly ice-cream range: Strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, chocolate fudge, hazelnut swirl, and salted caramel.

Vanilla is the most basic flavour with the fewest ingredients, so let’s start there.

Ingredients: Water, oats, sugar, dextrose, rapeseed oil, glucose syrup, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (coconut, rapeseed), coconut oil, emulsifier (mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids), stabilisers (locust bean gum, guar gum), natural flavour, salt, vanilla seeds, colour (beta carotene).

Ideally, a healthy ice-cream would include only ingredients you can buy singularly from the supermarket. However, because this is a dairy-free alternative, there are bound to be some miscellaneous items in there (because if you don’t have cream, you’re going to struggle to get any natural creaminess in there).

So, how does Oatly ice-cream get its creaminess? Unfortunately with a few nasties: a lot of vegetable oils, and beta carotene, for colour. Without the oils, the product would have a very gritty mouthfeel. Whereas in non-vegan ice-cream, the velvety texture comes from things like milk, cream, and sometimes eggs.


Is Oatly ice-cream healthier than dairy ice-cream?

If consuming wholefoods is your priority (which it should be) and you can eat non-vegan, dairy-rich foods, then good quality dairy ice-cream is the healthier option. It will be more satisfying and will keep you fuller for longer.

And despite non-dairy ice-cream doesn’t include high-calorie ingredients like whipping cream and whole milk, Oatly ice-cream is more calorific (218 calories per 100g) than good quality dairy ice-cream (approx. 204 calories per 100g). The calorie increase is likely due to the high amounts of oil in the Oatly version.

Again surprisingly, there is more sugar in Oatly ice-cream than dairy ice-cream (22g vs 19.3g per 100g). That’s the sugar, dextrose and glucose syrup working its magic.

Related: Don’t Be Fooled: 56 Ways You’re Lied To About Sugar

And while you probably won’t eat dairy ice-cream for its health benefits, dairy versions are actually much higher in protein than dairy-free alternatives. Just look at Oatly with its paltry 0.8g protein per 100g vs 3.6g protein in regular ice-cream. (You guessed it, that’s because of the milk protein, or lack thereof in Oatly’s case.)

The only nutritional component that they do not differ on is saturated fat; both the dairy and non-dairy ice-creams we looked at included exactly the same amount of saturated fat per 100g (6.8g respectively).

The bottom line

The answer to whether Oatly ice-cream is healthier than other dairy ice-creams is a tough one.

Yes, the nutritional info suggests dairy ice-cream is better for you, but there are other factors to consider, too. Like whether your body responds well to dairy, if you are following a vegan/plant-based diet, and if looking to consume more eco-friendly foods.

While there can’t be a definitive ‘broad stroke’ answer, given the factors above, what we can say is that providing consumers with more options in the supermarket is certainly a positive step.

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