With its delicious creamy taste combined with the oat’s reputation as a reputable health food, oat milk is all the rage with the superfoodies at the moment. But unfortunately, there are a number of issues with this type of milk that make it not only a poor source of nutrition but after analyzing what’s in this stuff myself I’d say that oat is probably the least healthy of all of the milk types available to us right now. Now don’t get me wrong, some brands will be much better than others and if you’ve managed to find an oat milk that is organic then you won’t be consuming most of the nasty additives I’m going to mention in this article. However do keep in mind that you’re going to be drinking something that’s primarily just carbohydrates and without the wonderful soluble fiber that unprocessed oats contain, oat milk doesn’t offer the same health benefits as eating the real thing. I personally feel that coconut milk followed by almond milk are both healthier options than oat and below is what you should know about oat milk if you’ve been drinking it on a regular basis.
Basically, any milk that comes in this type of carton is going to have been processed at ultra-high temperatures (UHT) which will destroy most of the nutrition that you would have gotten had you simply been eating a bowl of oats for breakfast. This is not the end of the world though, but do be aware that it’s not exactly a superfood. I actually make my own almond milk from scratch to get the full health benefits from the activated almonds in my milk but I understand this is not exactly convenient and everyone out there isn’t going to want to be taking time to prepare their own nut milk at home. What you can do though is go for a brand that uses organic oats or nuts and unless you’re on a high sugar/carbohydrate diet you may want to go for coconut or almond milk instead. Just beware that processed almond milk usually contains a lot of rice which makes it cheaper to produce and so you end up drinking something pretty high carb in most cases with the almond milk too. Personally, when I buy UHT milk I always go for unsweetened coconut for this reason.
As far as oat milk goes, below is all of the important nutritional information that doesn’t get explained in full on the side of the box.
The Health Pitfalls of Most Oat Milk
1. Oat Milk Spikes Your Blood Sugar
Oats are a grain and like all other grains, they are high in carbohydrates which generally leads to blood sugar level spikes. Blood sugar spikes are bad for our health as they are inflammatory and can lead to a whole cascade of other symptoms. In the short term, blood sugar spikes make us feel more hungry, anxious, and shaky and they also disrupt our sleep as well as make us crave more carbohydrates throughout the rest of our days. Since our diets are already so rich in grains for most of us we don’t need to be pouring extra carbohydrates into our coffee and on top of our cereals which already probably contain grains.
A lot of people chose oat milk because it is low fat which is probably what puts them off chasing coconut milk but speaking from experience, consuming a small to moderate amount of fat and cutting back on carbohydrates does not normally lead to weight gain in fact it is quite the opposite. The type of fat that’s found in coconuts is not the unhealthy kind it is the ‘good fat’.
2. Oat Milk is Highly Processed
It is a fact that consuming processed carbohydrates impacts blood sugar much more than unprocessed carbohydrates. There is much scientific research that supports this but in my own personal experience, I found this to be true as since I cut out all processed carbohydrates and sugars myself I’ve found my moods are more stable and I no longer get cravings and overeat like I used to. This is why I’ve found swapping these foods for foods containing more fat has actually caused me to lose weight and not gain it as you might think would happen. And so when you eat a bowl of oats for breakfast that has not been UHT processed yes your are still eating carbs but you won’t get the same nasty blood sugar spiking effect that you’ll get from a glass of oat milk.
One study (shown above) found that consuming unprocessed carbs caused blood sugar to spike 45 points vs the same amount of processed carbs causing a 70-point blood sugar spike!
3. Many Oat Milk can Contain Toxic Vegetable Oils
If you are going to stick with your oat milk, this is something you should be aware of when choosing which brand to buy. Many oat milks on the market contain canola, rapeseed, or other vegetable oils. To most people, vegetable oil sounds pretty healthy, right? Well, you’d be very wrong to think that. The reason is vegetable and seed oils are all processed at ultra-high temperatures also which transforms them into trans fats, making them highly toxic and inflammatory. Vegetables and seed oils are so bad for our health in fact that there is mountains of research that suggest they could be a major contributor to the development of cancer and other chronic diseases that are rampant in our world today. When buying oil, I’d recommend sticking with extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, or anything else cold-pressed for this reason.
And when assessing the ingredients of your milk, if it contains oil you should particularly avoid anything with palm oil which is not only toxic for our health but is a well-known fact that the companies that produce it are cutting down the rainforest to plant palm oil crops.
4. Can Be Loaded With Synthetic Vitamins & Thickeners
Just like any type of UHT milk, oat milk is often loaded with often toxic thickeners to bulk it up cheaply as well as some artificial vitamins that are added through fortification which makes the milk sound a lot healthier than it really is. Unfortunately, because the type of vitamins added to our milk are synthetic, most of the time our bodies have trouble absorbing them because they are not actually the real thing. And so artificial vitamins not only have a poor absorption rate but they can sometimes upset our bodies and it’s actually a proven fact that people who get their vitamins through synthetic supplements have a shorter lifespan than those who get them through fresh fruit and vegetables.
Thickeners are also something that you should avoid whenever possible. The reason they are added to our food is normally for the purpose of watering it down, at least in the case of milk production. A nut or oat milk should not need a thickener when it is made properly, if it needs the thickener then it’s usually going to contain less fast, almonds, coconuts, or whatever the milk is made from. Thickeners and other food additives are probably not that great for your health either. I recently looked up a thickener that was in one of the brands of coconut milk that I’d been buying to find out that it was made from a bacteria that causes black rot in vegetables, yuck!
Don’t worry though, if you go for an organic brand you won’t need to worry about this probably, but now you know why its worth paying that extra $1 per carton to get the good stuff 😀
5. Oat Crops Are Heavily Sprayed With The Toxic Herbicide Glyphosate
When you purchase your fresh produce from the supermarket, you always wash the spray off before eating it right? Well, unfortunately, big food companies don’t usually take time to do the same when they’re processing our food. Like most other grains, oat crops are sprayed heavily with the toxic herbicide glyphosate which is linked to disruption of the gut microbiome and can lead to many underlying health conditions and diseases including gastrointestinal disorders, depression, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, autism, infertility, cancer, and autoimmunity.
I personally avoid grains whenever I can now and have even swapped my bread for paleo bread which is totally grain free. I understand that not everyone is going to want to make diet changes like this but look I’m pretty sure that nobody needs to be pouring grains into their cup of coffee every morning on top of what they’re already eating in their bread and cereals.
6. Oats Are A Monocrop
Monocrops are crops like wheat, soy, and corn which means that they are only one species of plant growing in a very large area. These types of crops require heavy pesticide usage which depletes the soil of nutrients. They also require the use of petroleum and chemical-based fertilizers which further deplete the soil of nutrition and reduce biodiversity. This means that after a certain amount of time farming these crops, no other plant or animals will be able to exist on this land.
The Bottom Line
While UHT processing is not always something that can be avoided, many of the nasty chemicals and additives mentioned in this article can be by simply going for an organic brand. But if you are going to buy UHT milk, I’d recommend trying coconut milk instead which is also vegan but it’s low carbohydrate and so your not going to get blood sugar spikes or crave carbohydrates after drinking it. Coconut milk does not usually contain rice like many of the nut milks do which makes it the best option if you’re avoiding processed carbs.
To learn about the benefits of eating whole oats, check out my Superfoods Bible.