Oat Milk is Not Equivalent to Soda

This week, a Tweet went viral, claiming that natural sugars in Oatly oat milk impact blood sugar more than a can of Coca-Cola. However, that’s not true. The claim was based on an article written by someone who works in marketing, not nutrition. When the points of his article were looked at by nutritionists, they quickly fell apart.

Registered dietitian Anna Sweeney called the claim “ridiculous.” When asked by Insider about the danger, she said, “I think we’re focusing on the wrong things. There’s no reason to be scared of oat anything.”

The ingredient list for Oatly brand oat milk has only oats, oil, salt and vitamins. But, when you look at the nutritional facts, there are several grams of added sugar. There is nothing nefarious happening. It’s the result of the process of breaking down the oats with enzymes. The oats’ own starches create the sugar, making it taste sweet.

I am flabbergasted that we are talking about the breaking down of carbohydrate bonds. This is a reflection of where we are in wellness and diet culture that we’re pulling apart food into bare components,” said Ms. Sweeney.

A cup of oat milk has roughly 130 calories, 15 grams of carbs, two grams of fiber, four grams of protein, 35 percent of your daily calcium and 25 percent of your vitamin D. You should always read labels as nutrition varies from brand to brand. With protein and fiber, oat milk can make you help you feel full. That is more protein than nut-based milks. So, if you want protein and are lactose intolerant, oat milk is a better option on almond but not as good as soy milk. Plant-based milks all taste different from one another. Oat milk has a similar flavor and mouthfeel to cow’s milk. That nutritional information is for a full cup of milk, it’s important to think about what a serving size is. How much milk do you drink? Do you drink a cup a day, a glass or a splash in coffee?

Comparing oat milk to soda is quite frankly absurd. When we first heard someone say, “Oat milk is as bad as soda,” we thought there was a possibility we had been hoodwinked by clever marketing selling us fake health food. There have been enough scandals before that we don’t dismiss things out of hand. But, once we started digging, we saw the truth, a marketing expert wrote a flashy story and a Tweet went viral.

With 15 grams of carbs in a cup, it wouldn’t be the milk we reach for first. But, it does contain fiber. You’re not likely to be consuming it by the cup full. You should always read labels and make choices for yourself. Rest assured, if you decide to buy oat milk, you are not drinking Coke in milk’s clothing!   

Banner image: Leon Seibert via Unsplash
April 08, 2021
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