I’m not a fan of fear mongering around food products, there’s enough imbalanced nutritionists out there with these tactics to get clients + followers on board. Not a fan. There’s nothing to fear when it comes to food.
That said, I am a huge fan of the truth and being honest with you guys when products hit the market that are tagged as “healthy” alternatives when in fact they’re (oftentimes) just really great marketing ploys with shit ingredients underneath it all.
In the firing line this week: OAT MILK
Oat milk is an awesome alternative for non-dairy drinkers, but there’s a caveat to take into account: ingredients.
As with any non-dairy milk, the goal of the company is to take something completely unrelated to the natural creamy, protein + fat rich dairy source and replicate it with something that has none of these original characteristics.
Pretty much all nut milks + other non-dairy milk products have added ingredients to get that almost perfect viscous milky consistency. To achieve it, most companies add thickeners like xanthan gum, guar gum, etc.
These non-dairy milks also typically separate naturally (if you’ve ever made your own almond/cashew milk, you’ll know what I’m talking about) so companies also add emulsifiers to keep the ingredients suspended and not able to separate. You’ll see this as sunflower or soy lecithin commonly.
The kicker with a lot of oat milk though, is that oats dont naturally have oils/fats (like real milk or even nut milks do) that contribute to better texture, flavor and taste.
So what do companies do to make up for this one? They add oils!
The REAL kicker with oat milk: most companies add Canola Oil and don’t market or share this info unless you read the ingredients list.
Canola oil (also known as Rapeseed Oil) is pretty damn bad for you. I know the USDA/FDA say things like “use heart healthy canola oil” but these ass holes dont care about your health. Watch this video on how canola oil is made and I guarantee it will make you second guess your consumption. Canola was also originally used in mass quantities during WWII as an industrial oil for friction on ship parts. Like most issues with our current food system and agriculture, we had a surplus of this oil after WWII and the government found other ways to use this oil: unfortunately, it went into our food system.
Canola oil is highly processed, chemically extracted, and extremely rancid upon completion of production. Nutritionally speaking, it has absolutely no nutrient density or quality.
In rat studies, It has been linked to memory problems and neuroinflammation (inflammation in the brain), higher rates of endothelial dysfunction related to hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke, and a whole host of other poor health factors.
In Chris Kresser’s article “How Industrial Seed Oils Are Making Us Sick” he shares:
Six Reasons Industrial Seed Oils Are Terrible for Your Health
- The consumption of industrial seed oils represents an evolutionary mismatch.
- Eating industrial seed oils raises our omega-6-to-omega-3 fatty acid ratios, with significant consequences for our health.
- Industrial seed oils are unstable and oxidize easily.
- They contain harmful additives.
- They’re derived from genetically modified crops.
- When industrial seed oils are repeatedly heated, even more toxic byproducts are created.
The bottom line is this:
The ingredients in the foods you consume MATTER if you’re searching for optimal health + function. Canola oil an other industrial seed oils truly have no place or nutrient value in our food system and are something to be aware of. Milk alternatives, especially oat milk, are often full of unnecessary additives that contribute to poor overall health over time.
Reminder that consuming products occasionally that have shit ingredients isn’t the major problem- its the products and foods you’re consuming on a daily basis that will chronically contribute to your health over time. The devil is in the details. So if you’re downing an oat milk latte every day with canola oil, maybe its time to rethink your milk alternatives.
What should I use instead?
I personally enjoy regular full fat dairy- bonus points if you can find it raw from a local farmer (I have no lactose intolerance), or high quality milk alternatives from brands committed to clean ingredients such as Malk, Califia Farms and Forager. Again- just read your ingredients.
Parting words: Don’t drive yourself crazy. This whole health journey you’re on is all about progress not perfection and… SPOILER ALERT- the journey never ends. No ones dietary intake is “perfect”. To prove my point- I literally ate an entire gluten free pizza for lunch yesterday because I was in a rush and said “fuck it”, so keep that 80/20 rule in mind to stay sane. Your stress levels matter, too.