Wellness Wednesdays: Oat Milk
Confesstion; I love oat milk. Oatly Barista milk is my go to for my morning oat milk latte – I love it SO much in fact that I often go to bed already excited for my morning cup of coffee. It’s part of my morning ritual; grinding the beans and enjoying the aroma as our kitchen and living room fills with notes of Columbian roasted coffee. The delicious foaming oat milk the perfect finishing touch to my morning beverage which I’ll take out into the garden, and make a mental to-do list of gardening chores I need to complete that day. Wholesome and lovely, right?! Tragically, I have known for some time that oat milk probably isn’t great for you… and especially not Oatly Barista with its somewhat questionable list of ingredients. Read on for a summary of what I’ve heard about oat milk – remember I’m no nutritionist, but I find the subject of nutrition and ultra processed foods absolutely fascinating, and have done a considerable amount of reading on the topic. I’m hoping that by writing this post, I’ll be motivated to switch from a morning oat-milk latte to a cow’s milk latte – though that may be too much of a sacrifice!!
The issue with oat milk
1 – Oat milk causes glucose spikes
As oat milk is made from oats which mostly consist of carbohydrates, when you drink it, it triggers a glucose spike in your body, which, if you’ve read my previous Wellness Wednesday feature on glucose intake, you’ll know is not good news! Oat milk tastes sweet as oats naturally contain sugar, which again contributes to the glucose spike (and subsequent insulin spike) that oat milk triggers. Have a read of The Glucose Revolution if you want to know more about avoiding glucose spikes, and why they’re so bad for us in both the short, and long term.
2 – Oat milk is heavily processed
It’s not hard to imagine that turning dry oats into a creamy liquid that often has a very long shelf-life requires a fair bit of processing. Unfortunately for us oat milk lovers, most oat milks contain synthetic chemicals which could be harmful for our health, such as thickeners, stabilisers and dipotassium phosphate which has been linked to kidney disease. Anything heavily processed is not good for us; and rapeseed is an ingredient within my favourite oat milk which is linked to heart disease as well as other inflammatory problems. Have a look on the back of your oat milk carton, and if there are any ingredients that you don’t recognise within the list, then that’s a red flag right there that it’s heavily processed, and therefore not a healthy option. Of course, you can make oat milk at home by soaking milk and adding water (I use my MilkyPlant machine which makes it very easy indeed) – but of course this lacks the taste, creaminess and frothiness of our favourite cartons of oat milk.
3 – Oat milk lacks protein
When compared to other dairy-alternatives, oak milk contains little protein. If you’re vegetarian or vegan and oat milk is your milk of choice, be sure to get your protein from other sources, such as from lentils and beans. This isn’t a major factor because chances are we don’t drink our morning coffee with oat milk in order to get our daily amount of protein – but as you’ll read below, many of the alternatives are far better for you at supplying the minerals and proteins that help keen us energised throughout the day.
4 – Questionnable ingredients….
As well as rapeseed oil (linked to inflammation), the oats themselves are most likely sprayed with glyphosate, which is a heavily used chemical and weed killer, commonly known as Roundup. It’s carcinogenic; meaning it’s cancer causing, and also plays havoc with your microbiome. You won’t be able to tell from your carton of oat milk if the oats have been sprayed with glyphosate, so your best option really is to buy organic oats, and make it yourself.
1 – Cow’s milk
If you’re non-vegan and can tolerate diary well, cow’s milk is the obvious alternative to oat milk. Cow’s milk is high in protein, calcium, and vitamins such as vitamins B and D – just try to find organic cows milk and avoid semi skimmed and lighter options – full fat cow’s milk is the healthiest option.
2 – Nut milks
If you’re vegan however, cow’s milk is off the cards. Instead, you could try cashew milk, almond milk or hazelnut milk. Please be aware that each of these alternatives come with their own sets of pros and cons for our own health and for the environment!
3 – Make your own oat milk
If you’re still planning to stick with oat milk, you could purchase a plant milk maker. I have one myself, and have successfully made oat milk and cashew milk, however my home-made milks just don’t seem to froth like the shop bought varieties sadly
Try reading Ultra Processed People for more info on the ingredients in most store bought Oat Milks
I started reading this book by Dr Chris van Tulleken on my honeymoon in Sicily, and it is truly a life-changing read. The book talks about what ultra-processed foods are why we are addicted to them, and why they are so bad for us. It’s not the easiest of books to read, with lots of scientific definitions, but I really think it’s so important to understand what ingredients are in some of our favourite foods, so that we can make more informed choices about what we choose to eat.
My final take on oat milk – while I understand that it’s really not good for you, I still can’t resist the allure of my creamy morning oat milk coffee. I now see my oat milk morning coffee as a treat, and try to drink more black coffee on a regular basis in place of the oat milk latte – especially as my first drink of the day. I try to counter-balance the inevitable glucose spike by going for a short walk while enjoying my coffee, and of course making sure to hydrate with plenty of water before I have my first caffeine hit.