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Oat milk may create faster spikes in glucose levels

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Plant-based milk alternatives have become popular among health and diet-conscious consumers today. Among the several options available in the market today, many choose to buy oat milk for its great taste and creamy texture. However, despite its growing popularity, questions have emerged regarding its impact on blood glucose levels.

French influencer Jessie Inchauspé, also known as Glucose Goddess, explains this in Marie Talks, a podcast she spoke on, that went viral recently, “Oat milk comes from oats. Oats are grains and grains are starch. So when you’re drinking oat milk, you’re consuming starch juice. You’re having juice with a lot of glucose in it which leads to a glucose spike (sic).”

How to foods effect blood sugar levels?

Dr Chaitanya HR, consultant physician at Athreya Hospital, Bangalore, explains, “The glycemic index (GI) is a measure that ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100 based on how much they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Oat milk generally has a moderate GI compared to other plant-based milk alternatives.”

Unsweetened almond milk typically has a lower GI, he adds, largely because almonds are low in carbohydrates. Soy milk has a GI closer to oat milk but may vary based on processing and additives.

He agrees that whole milk’s GI can vary, but it’s usually lower in GI than oat milk because of its lactose content, a naturally occurring sugar that metabolises differently than the added sugars or carbohydrates found in many commercial oat milk.

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Components in oat milk that could lead to a glucose spike

“Oat milk is made from oats, which are carbohydrates,” Dr Chaitanya confirms. While oats are whole grain and beneficial in many ways, he says, the process of making oat milk breaks down the starches, potentially making them quicker to digest and possibly leading to faster spikes in glucose levels.

Additionally, the presence of added sugars in some commercial oat milk brands can also contribute to higher glycemic responses. Consumers should check labels for added sugars, he recommends, which can significantly impact blood glucose levels.

Impact of processing methods or additives

The processing of oats into milk involves enzymatic treatment that breaks down oat starches into simpler sugars, which can increase the GI of the resulting milk, informs Dr Chaitanya.

“Additives such as sugars, thickeners, and flavourings commonly found in commercial oat milk varieties can further elevate its glycemic impact,” he states. Unsweetened and unflavoured oat milk varieties usually have a lower glycemic effect than their flavoured and sweetened counterparts.

Recommended consumption practices for oat milk

Dr Chaitanya recommends the following consumption practices for individuals with concerns about glucose spikes related to oat milk consumption:

Choose unsweetened varieties

Opting for unsweetened oat milk can help minimise glucose spikes, as these options contain fewer simple sugars.

Monitor portions

Being mindful of portion sizes can help control the carbohydrate intake from oat milk, especially for individuals managing blood sugar levels.

Balance with low-GI foods

Consuming oat milk as part of a balanced meal that includes fibre, protein, and healthy fats can help mitigate rapid glucose spikes by slowing the overall digestion and absorption process.

Individual monitoring

Individuals with diabetes or concerns about blood sugar management should monitor their responses to oat milk and consult with a healthcare provider or dietitian for personalised advice.

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