Are you about to have your mid-morning plant-based delicious and super healthy oat milk latte?
We also love plant-based foods, and we’re delighted to have such a long list of plant-based milk options available in the market: coconut, almond, rice, cashew, soy, oat milk, and many more! Vegetarians, vegans, dairy intolerants, and healthy-living fans have already made the switch, and they all swear by it. In particular, oat milk has seen a rise in consumption in the US, one of the primary oat drink producers even created an oat milk website finder!
Oat milk packs a long list of health benefits, and health nowadays is one of the most important things to consider when doing your grocery shopping, am I right? And for that, you need to check labels, all of them. So, you picked up that healthy oat milk carton, found the label, and read: oats, water, canola oil, salt. Wait, canola what? Is there oil in my oat milk? Yes, there is. Keep reading to find out more!
What are canola and rapeseed oil?
Rapeseed oil is the oil made from the seeds of a plant called rape – yes, awful name – and canola oil is the oil made from the seeds of a plant called rape. It’s not a glitch in the Matrix, you are reading what you’re reading. There is no difference, both oils come from the same plant, but from different varieties. So, rapeseed oil is for industrial purposes – lubricants, biodiesel, and plastics – and what we call canola oil is for culinary purposes.
The issue that we’re faced with as consumers is that in many countries, including the US and the UK, both terms are used interchangeably, which means you’ll never know which one is the one they’ve used in your oat milk. You have two options:
- Trust the brand and keep calm and drink your oat milk latte
- Trust no one and find out more about the product you consume (just for the record, we chose this option)
Why is there canola oil in my oat milk?
A quick internet search on “how to make oat milk” will list the following ingredients:
- Plain oats
- A pinch of salt
If it’s that easy, why are we buying it? Well, for the same reason you don’t usually make pizza from scratch every night! Yes, it feels amazing to do anything from scratch, but let’s face it – we live in a world full of commodities, and nobody has time to produce oat milk for their morning coffee, it’s hard enough to wake up already!
Why is canola oil used in oat milk then?
There are a few reasons:
- Culinary rapeseed oil – if it’s non-GMO – is actually packed with good nutrients and fats
- The oil helps make the milk less watery, creamier, and smoother
- Canola oil has a higher smoke point, which makes it safer to cook with
- Canola oil is considered to be a healthy fat, high in omega 3s
You might think: “it doesn’t sound that bad” and you are right, my friend. But – here it comes- did you know that in the US, canola oil is usually a GMO food? Although there are many debates about whether GMO foods are all bad or not, we think it’s important not to consume GMO products, just in case, while scientists and the FDA make up their minds and finish their scientific work.
The health impact of canola oil
Rapeseed oil contains high amounts of erucic acid when produced, and this acid has been associated with heart problems in mice. In the ’70s canola oil was created from another variety of plants, and currently, the FDA requires oil producers not to have more than 2% of this acid to be allowed to name their oil “canola”.
In the US it’s usually a GMO food because the crops are made pesticide-resistant. According to the non-GMO Project, canola oil is a high-risk crop.
Whether GMOs are safe or not, it’s still on the air, but many have chosen to stay away from these products.
Negative facts linked to canola oil in oat milk:
- GMO production affects farmers all over the world.
- Making crops herbicide-resistant increases the use of toxic pesticides, which have been linked to cancer.
- GMO is a relatively new practice, and we don’t know the long-term effects yet.
- The WHO has discouraged the use of DNA from allergens to avoid allergic effects.
- There is no evidence of GMOs being harmful, but there is no proof of them being healthy.
We will have to wait a bit longer to have clear and conclusive data, but so far, the WHO has already stepped in to regulate GMOs such as canola oil. So, if you’re a concerned citizen that chooses to stay away from GMOs “just in case“ keep reading!
Alternatives to GMO canola oil
To sum up, canola oil, if it’s not GMO and it’s responsibly sourced, can be a healthy extra in your oat milk. The good news is that, since 1st January 2020, brands in the US are required by the FDA to label their products as “bioengineered”. The bad news is that we live in a global world, where imports and exports are critical for many companies’ success.
Here are some tips to follow:
- Ask the brand. If they’ve got nothing to hide, they’ll tell you.
- Look for oat milk brands that use no oils, the more basic an ingredient list is, the better.
- Try another plant-based milk if you don’t want to worry about oil.
- Ask the barista! If you’re on the go, ask the expert at your coffee shop, they might know, or they can just show you the carton.
- If you’ve got time and motivation, grab some oats, water, salt, and power up your blender!
We hope to have helped you decide what you feel it’s the best alternative for you! Did you try any healthy non-GMO or oil-free oat milk? Let us know!