The ground extract of dried soybeans which is mixed with water is called soy milk. Soybean is a native of China and subsequently spread to other parts of the world, particularly U.S. In some countries soy milk is referred to only as soy drink or soy beverage. Soy milk significantly differs from cow’s milk or any other animal milk in nutrient value and taste. Let us try and explore in detail about the benefits of soy milk.
Though soymilk contains energy and nutrient value good enough to be included in regular diet but may not be healthy enough as food substitute.
Different types of soymilk are marketed in different countries by adding various ingredients and flavors suitable for local consumers.
How is soy milk prepared
- Dried soy beans are soaked in water for a minimum period of three hours.
- Later, added in wet grinder by mixing ten parts of water to one part of soybean.
- The grinded extract is then boiled for 15 minutes.
- Once the fluid is cooled, the boiled extract is strained to remove the insoluble residue.
- The resultant liquid is opaque and white in color resembling cow’s milk in consistency.
Soy milk has a longer shelf life as compared to natural dairy milk.
Soymilk is a stable emulsion of water, protein and oil. It contains many nutrients and vitamins. In 100 ml of soymilk there is 54 Cal of energy, 1.8gm of total fat, 51 mg of sodium, and 118 mg of potassium 6 gm of dietary fiber and zero cholesterol. It also contains 3.3gm of protein, and small quantities of vitamin B6, B12, magnesium, riboflavin, niacin, iron, vitamins D, E and K.
The nutrient value in each brand of soymilk may vary depending on the fortification. Since the nutrient contents in soybean plant alone is not sufficient, it is fortified with vitamins and minerals to make it a healthy drink.
Health benefits of soy milk
Soy milk is beneficial to all age groups including infants.
The anti-carcinogenic properties in soymilk helps in prevention and inhibit prostate cancer and breast cancer. It is found that the intake of soymilk can reduce serum estrogen levels which reduces the risk of breast cancer.
Prevents liver damage
The anti-oxidant properties in soy milk can cure some of the chronic diseases in the liver. The anti-oxidants help in reducing oxidative stress that directly impact the damage of liver.
The proteins, amino acids and iso-flavones in soy protein lower the harmful LDL cholesterol levels. In addition, they reduce the levels of serum cholesterol. Soy milk consumption also reduces the blood pressure, more so in the case of type -2 diabetic persons, thereby improving the health of cardiovascular system. As soy milk contain lesser protein than natural milk it is more beneficial to those who are intolerant to lactose.
Postmenopausal relief to women
By maintaining the estrogen levels by the iso-flavones contained in it, soymilk provides the needed remedy for health issues encountered by postmenopausal women. The imbalance in the hormone system occurring due to natural loss of hormones is rectified by soymilk.
The bone related disease known as osteoporosis, is commonly found in women particularly after menopause. Such deficiency in the bones is due to loss of calcium which makes the bones brittle. In such cases, soy milk provides significant relief. This is because soy milk is rich in calcium. It also reduces the risk of bone fracture.
The vitamin B6 and magnesium contents in soy milk enhances the activity of the neuro-chemical, serotonin levels. This helps in improving mental health by acting against depression. Vitamin D in soy milk prevents the condition of depression in people living in high latitudes particularly during winter seasons.
The iso-flavones in soy milk deals with problem of metabolic obesity in men and postmenopausal women by reducing the enlargement of adipose tissues. The adipogenesis effect of soy milk not only helps the adipose tissues but is also effective in lowering LDL cholesterol level. Soy milk helps you to shed weight from your waist.
Omega-3 and Omega -6 fatty acids
Compared to dairy milk, soy milk contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Fatty acids are highly beneficial in reducing the triglycerides level and improving the lipid profile. They also protect the blood vessels.
- As a word of caution, avoid sweetened soy milk as it boosts the calories.
- Soy is one of the common allergens and people allergic to it should avoid soy milk.
- Consuming high amount of soymilk might cause abnormal growth of tissues in the uterus.
- Children who are allergic to cow’s milk are mostly allergic to soy milk as well.
- The oxalates in soy milk might increase the risk of kidney stones.
- Long term use of soy milk increases the chances of cancer around uterus and urinary bladder.