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World 08.02.2024

Oat Milk Under Scrutiny: From Vegan Favorite to Nutritional Critique

Source: The DairyNews
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In the realm of dairy alternatives, oat milk's popularity has taken a hit, facing recent criticism from nutritionists and environmentalists. Helen Coffey delves into the complexities surrounding this trendy plant-based milk to decipher whether it has truly fallen out of favor.
Oat Milk Under Scrutiny: From Vegan Favorite to Nutritional Critique
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The viral video titled "Cow's milk when she hears you've quit oat," created by actor Drea Valls, humorously symbolizes the shifting sentiment towards oat milk. Once celebrated as the health-conscious choice, oat milk is now under the nutritional microscope. Critics argue that, contrary to its healthy image, oat milk may lead to significant glucose spikes due to its carbohydrate content.

French biochemist Jessie Inchauspé, known as the "Glucose Goddess," highlighted concerns about oat milk during a popular TikTok interview. She emphasized that oats, being grains, are starch, and drinking oat milk essentially means consuming "starch juice" with a high glucose impact. In comparison, milk from cows and nuts offers better options in terms of glucose balance.

Sarah Carolides, a functional medicine and nutrition specialist, adds to the critique, pointing out that oat milk's carbohydrate content, additives, and emulsifiers can contribute to bloating, especially for individuals with gut bacteria imbalances.

Oatly, a leading brand in the oat milk market, with a net worth exceeding $675 million (£529 million), rebuts claims regarding glucose intake. The company argues that its analysis considers glycaemic load (GL), placing Oatly Barista Edition in the "low category" for glycaemic load, comparable to cow's milk.

Dr. Federica Amati, head nutritionist at Zoe, notes that plant milks, including oat milk, may contain processed ingredients but are consumed in small quantities. She emphasizes that fortified versions offer beneficial nutrients, and occasional consumption is acceptable.

Environmental Impact: Oat milk has gained recognition for having a smaller carbon footprint compared to other alternatives. The Ethical Consumer highlights the environmental benefits, indicating that cow's milk requires more land, water, and emits more greenhouse gases. However, the discussion on environmental impact requires a nuanced understanding of production methods, and simplistic narratives, like Valls's video, oversimplify the complex considerations.

In conclusion, while oat milk faces nutritional scrutiny, its environmental credentials remain a point of strength. The multifaceted nature of the debate emphasizes the need for a balanced perspective on oat milk, acknowledging both its nutritional aspects and its role in sustainable practices.
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February 2024
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