5 Common Plant Milk Additives And Why You Should Avoid Them
May 13, 2022| By JOI team
5 Common Plant Milk Additives And Why You Should Avoid Them
Almond-Base | Cashew-Base | Creamer-Base | Health+Wellness | Oat-Powder |
JOI’s in-house dietitian lists the most common food additives found in plant milks, how they may affect your health, and what you should look for instead.
What are Additives and Why are They in Plant Milk?
It’s plant-based … but is it healthy? As people become more educated about nutrition, they start to question the quality of what they put into their bodies. With so many plant-based products making their way into grocery stores, there is an increasing amount of unwanted ingredients tagging along.
Next time you’re at the store, test it out. Pick a popular plant-based milk brand and turn it around. You will see a long list of ingredients, most of which you will likely not recognize. These are food additives – they are used to manipulate the texture, appearance or taste of foods by acting as thickeners, stabilizers, binders or emulsifiers.
If you’re trying to eat a more wholesome and nutritious diet, unnatural ingredients simply don’t belong. So read on. We’ve looked at several brands of almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, and soy milk, and put together a list of the most common food additives in plant milks and why you should avoid them.
You may have stumbled upon the names guar gum, gellan gum, xanthan gum or locust bean gum. These are used in several types of foods – especially plant-based milks – to prevent separation, extend shelf life, or thicken the consistency. Unfortunately, many of these gums have been shown to cause gastrointestinal issues such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea, which may promote inflammation in the gut.
Guar gum, likely the most common of all, was once associated with causing obstructions in the small intestine and esophagus. Xanthan gum, which was shown to have a laxative effect in adults, also appears to be unsafe and contraindicated for infants. What’s more? Many of these gums are derived from common allergens which may be a concern for those with food allergies or sensitivities.
Perhaps the most controversial of all food additives, carrageenan comes with a really bad rap. This substance, which is derived from red seaweed, functions as an emulsifier and a thickener to give foods a creamier texture. Animal studies have linked carrageenan to serious gastrointestinal issues, inflammation and even cancer. In fact, carrageenan has been used to induce tumor growth in rats. Yikes.
As part of their long ingredients list, many dairy alternatives contain added oils such as rapeseed, sunflower, and palm oils. Oils are calorie-dense with a very high fat content and little nutritional value. Although certain oils may present health benefits, namely avocado and olive oils, most promote inflammation, obesity and chronic disease. Beyond their effect on human health, some oils also negatively impact the environment. Enter palm oil: a major driver of deforestation known to destroy the habitat and lives of many endangered species such as orangutans.
Disguised under different names – dicalcium phosphate, disodium phosphate, monosodium phosphate, phosphoric acid, to name a few – phosphates are another popular food additive with undesirable health effects. A study suggested consumption of phosphates may lead to organ calcification and kidney complications. The study supports that phosphates in food are hazardous and should be labeled as dangerous to public health, especially to individuals with kidney damage.
5. NATURAL FLAVORS
Far from ‘natural,’ these food additives are often isolated from their original source and developed inside a lab. They are added to create or enhance a flavor, but what constitutes a ‘natural flavor’ is a mystery. That’s because manufacturers may just stick ‘natural flavors’ in the ingredients list without having to disclose any information on it. But it gets worse: one single natural flavor may contain up to 100 ingredients. Yikes! If you’re interested in knowing exactly what you put into your body, you may want to steer clear of these guys.
How To Avoid Additives in Plant Milk?
We’re glad you asked. It’s clear that alternatives to dairy milk are becoming increasingly popular. Whether it’s due to lactose intolerance, a dietary preference, environmental reasons or for animal welfare, consumers are stocking up on plant milks. But most brands out there include tons of unnecessary ingredients such as gums, oils, and added sugars.
Now that you’ve learned the many reasons to avoid food additives, it might be a smart move to ditch the store-bought milk alternatives and allow for minimum-ingredient, wholesome milks to make their way into your pantry. Here at JOI, we pride ourselves on offering single-ingredient products that are completely free from food additives. No gums, no lecithins, no oils, no cane sugar, no BS.
So, make sure you read the ingredients list next time you’re out shopping – unless you’re using JOI, which means that you won’t have to do any reading given it’s Just One Ingredient. Our nut milks – almond milk and cashew milk – are great sources of anti-inflammatory healthy fats, protein, and micronutrients. Our oat milk, which consists of organic ground oats, provides heart-healthy fiber and protein. So, are you ready to join the JOI family?
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