Like seemingly everyone else in the wellness world and beyond, as soon as I heard oat milk existed, I jumped on the bandwagon. It gave me pause for about three seconds (You can milk oats?!) before my lactose-sensitive self was ready to roll.
At the time, the only dairy alternatives I had tried were soy (meh, not my fave) and almond milk. The advent of almond milk felt revolutionary to me and it was. Once it landed on the menu at Starbucks, it became the dairy-free alternative that ignited the alt-milk revolution. In the years that followed, new types of “mylk” seemed to be released every month. Macadamia milk! Flaxseed milk! Avocado milk! Weeping willow treebark milk! Okay, so that last one isn’t real, but you get the idea.
Is oat milk actually good for you? Watch the video below to find out:
Friends, as a food writer for Well+Good, I can tell you that I’ve tried them all. At this point, I am pretty much an alt-milk sommelier. Now there are some alts that have particularly won me over—pistachio milk comes to mind—but when it comes to everyday use, I keep coming back to oat. To me, its taste and consistency are the closest to good old cow’s milk. And the fact that it can foam up perfectly for plant-based cappuccinos and macchiatos makes it an indispensable part of my morning routine.
But in addition to being a healthy food writer, I’m also a certified holistic health coach. I’ve literally been schooled on ingredients’ list and nutrition panel reading and it’s something I pay a lot of attention to when choosing an oat milk (or anything else for that matter). As a general rule of thumb, the simpler an ingredients list, the better. I’ve found that some oat milk brands sneak in sugar or use other ingredients, like gums, including xanthan gum, agar agar, guar gum, and locus bean gum. These gums are generally used as binding and thickening agents. While they’re deemed completely safe by the Food and Drug Administration and most people don’t have any issues with them whatsoever, some have found that they can cause unpleasant digestive issues. This unfortunately applies to me, which is why I choose to seek out oat milks with no gums.
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One brand I’ve become obsessed with that checks all the boxes is Minor Figures ($5). First, it uses organic oats, which is a major selling point. Oats are one of the most commonly genetically modified crops in the U.S. and GMO oats are much more likely to have pesticide residue than organic oats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program reports having found seven different pesticide residues in oats. “Of these seven pesticides, they were broken down into categories that are: known or are probable carcinogens, suspected hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, and are toxins that impact development or reproduction,” Jenny Carr, author of Peace of Cake: The Secret to An Anti-Inflammatory Diet ($16) previously told Well+Good. “In addition, these pesticides in oats are impacting the health and well-being of honeybee toxins—a major environmental effect. This alone makes the standard packaged oat milk far less appetizing.”
Another reason why I’m into Minor Figures oat milk is that the brand is completely free from gums. Instead, they use a little bit of plain organic sunflower oil as an emulsifier. The only other ingredients you’ll find in their oat milk are water, salt, and potassium carbonate (an acidity regulator). I use the Minor Figures oat milk to make lattes, smoothies, and for baking. The brand also sells canned oat milk lattes and matcha lattes—if ready-made caffeine is your jam, I strongly encourage you to lean all the way in.
As consumers, we vote with our dollars and if we support brands that favor wholesome, high-quality ingredients—and a short-as-possible list of them—it raises the bar for other brands to meet as well. Alas, that’s not something that’s “minor” at all; in fact, it’s pretty major.
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