Should We Stop drinking Oat Milk?

Oat milk was once the UK’s most popular alternative milk but reports of it causing spikes in your blood sugar have caused concern.

"so it leads to a big glucose spike.”

Alternative milk was seen as a healthier substitute to dairy milk but various reports have led to growing health concerns about oat milk.

Oat milk was once the most popular alternative milk in the UK with Brits spending £146 million on the stuff in 2020.

However, it has recently fallen out of favour as critics warn that it will raise your blood sugar unnecessarily.

In an interview, biochemist Jessie Inchauspé told entrepreneur Marie Forleo:

“Oat milk comes from oats, oats are a grain, and grains are starch. So, when you’re drinking oat milk, you’re drinking starch juice.

“You’re drinking juice with a lot of glucose in it – so it leads to a big glucose spike.”

She went on to say that whole milk and unsweetened nut milk are better options in terms of “glucose-balancing properties”, as they’re both low in starch.

The criticism surrounding this grain-based milk has become prevalent on social media.

A viral TikTok by actress Andrea Valls titled Cow’s Milk When She Hears You’ve Quit Oat, in which she anthropomorphises the former as a spurned woman, has confirmed what some had already seen coming: the inevitable fall from grace of the trendiest dairy alternative on the block.

Complete with a fur coat and fake cigarette, Andrea says:

“Well, well, well.

“Look who’s come crawling back… Had enough of her spiking your glucose, have you? I should have known what you were up to from the start, all them years ago.

“Stopped ordering me in your Costa; started ordering her instead.”

@andrea_valls Cow’s milk when she hears you’ve quit Oat #comedy #fyp #impressions #fyppppppppppppppppppppppp ? original sound – Andrea Valls

On TikTok, users have labelled oat milk a “scam”.

US author Dave Asprey says it raises your blood sugar “as much as drinking a coke”.

He adds: “Its not a health food.”

But consultant dietician Sophie Medlin points out:

“There has been a lot of hype on social media recently around blood sugar ‘spikes’.

“In those without diabetes and prediabetes, this isn’t something we need to be concerned with as our body is able to easily maintain our blood sugars in a healthy range.”

Outside of social media, health experts refer to these changes as normal fluctuations in blood glucose.

Medlin assures: “It’s not something that we’re remotely concerned about as it’s just an example of the body regulating itself.”

So if blood sugar ‘spikes’ are not a cause for concern for those without diabetes and prediabetes, should we avoid drinking oat milk?

How Healthy is It?

Should We Stop drinking Oat Milk

When it comes to nutrition, everything is nuanced.

Nutritional therapist Rhian Stephenson says:

“Good quality oat milk can be part of a healthy diet, especially for those who can’t tolerate traditional dairy but I wouldn’t call it a ‘health food’.”

Oat milk ingredients can range from just oats and water to a list that includes added sugars, oils, preservatives and emulsifiers.

She advises:

“I would steer clear of the latter, which will be less healthy.”

When substituting dairy milk for plant-based milk, it is important to consider the nutritional implications.

This includes calcium and iodine intake.

While most people get plenty of protein in their wider diet, dairy milk is a source of protein that is lost when we switch to plant milk, especially when they’re made from grains like rice and oats rather than from nuts like almonds and cashews.

Medlin says: “Responsible fortification of plant milks is key to ensure they’re a reasonable equivalent to dairy milk.”

Fortified means that it contains extra minerals and vitamins that are not naturally found in the plant-based alternative.

Does Oat Milk cause Blood Sugar Spikes?

Should We Stop drinking Oat Milk 2

Oat milk and other grain-based milk tend to have a slightly higher glycaemic index (GI) than dairy or nut milks – but the difference is insignificant when following a balanced diet.

Oat milk has a GI of 60 while dairy milk has a GI of 37.

Medlin explains: “This means that oat milk has more readily available carbohydrate than dairy milk – but we also have to think about how oat milk is consumed to contextualise this.”

For example, drinking oat milk or pouring it on cereal will contribute to a spike in blood sugar, especially on an empty stomach.

But in tea, it will be a small amount and therefore, not clinically significant.

And having it with high-fibre cereal, the fibre in the cereal will impact the GI of the meal and make the oat milk component far less significant.

So drinking a large quantity of oat milk without any fibre, fat or protein to combat it will likely raise blood sugar.

Nutritional scientist Toral Shah says:

“People are too obsessed with spiking blood sugar levels. Food is meant to spike blood sugar levels.”

For healthy adults, our body will lower blood sugar levels quickly and this is normal.

Medlin reassures: “The claims surrounding oat milk on social media are hugely inflated and if you’re going to drink a plant-based alternative, oat milk is as good a choice as any.”

Make sure that it is fortified and does not contain emulsifiers and preservatives.

The key is to consume it in moderation and if you are consuming it, especially on an empty stomach, consider reducing your daily intake.

Dhiren is a News & Content Editor who loves all things football. He also has a passion for gaming and watching films. His motto is to "Live life one day at a time".

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