Oats, soy, spelt, rice… what are the good and bad points of plant-based milks?

Oats, soy, spelt, rice… what are the good and bad points of plant-based milks?
Oats, soy, spelt, rice… what are the good and bad points of plant-based milks?

Oats, soy, spelt, rice… In recent years, plant-based milks have become essential on supermarket shelves. With their strengths and their points of vigilance, too.

First of all, a clarification: the appellation vegetable milk persists in common and marketing language despite the publication in 1997 of European regulations which define milk as “the product from the milking of one or more cows“. In 2013, the National Food Safety Agency (ANSES) specified that the only drinks of plant origin, authorized to bear the name milk, were coconut milk and almond milk. In summary , talking about “milks“plants constitutes an abuse of language.

Points of vigilance

These drinks, or juices, are generally obtained by grinding – of the plant in question – then extracting the juice and adding water. As a result, their composition is radically different from that of cow’s milk. The preparation obtained in no way constitutes a substitute for cow’s milk, particularly for young children, who will not find it sufficient to meet their needs in terms of minerals and proteins in particular.

Furthermore, these juices do not strengthen our bones. These drinks turn out to be too poor in minerals, calcium in the lead – without forgetting magnesium, selenium, vitamin B12, etc. – to contribute effectively to strengthening our bone capital and our immune defenses.

Another point of vigilance relayed by the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE): on the basis of a Greek study, it points to potential risks associated with global warming. Until now, its representatives emphasize, “these products can be stored at room temperature for several months without risk of spoilage, because the difference between the preparation temperature and the processing temperature is large enough that the spores do not survive“. In particular those of a bacteria called Geobacillus stearothermophilus.

But under the effect of rising temperatures, a risk of deterioration could arise: G. stearothermophilus therefore being likely to resist, in this case, treatment by ultra-high temperature (UHT). To the point of recommending the transport of these substances in trucks “thermally insulated”. Like milk, in short.

Some advantages

  • No lactose: oat or soy juice, however, are foods of choice for people with lactose intolerance. These patients are in fact faced with a “problem of digestion of sugar contained in milk and its derived products”, underlines Health Insurance. With a potentially altered daily life due to accelerated intestinal transit and therefore the presence of gas, painful bloating and diarrhea;
  • No milk proteins (cow’s, etc.): these drinks therefore appear suitable for people allergic to milk proteins. This type of allergy manifests itself from a very young age through skin (urticaria, etc.), digestive (diarrhea, vomiting) and/or respiratory (rhinitis, conjunctivitis or even asthma attacks) manifestations;
  • Very little lipids: these plant juices are not likely to increase the load in terms of bad cholesterol, in particular.

In any case, if they must, like any food, be consumed in moderation, they constitute an alternative to those who wish to vary their beverages and get closer to the feeling of drinking milk. Particularly by using them in porridge-type preparations, for example.

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