Benefits of Soy Milk
Soy Milk (also known as soya milk) is a non dairy form of milk that is made from soya beans. Soy milk has traditionally be drunk by westerners who are allergic to cows milk but is is gaining in popularity in the western world due to its associated health benefits. In this article we will explore the benefits and the drawbacks of soy milk.
Soy milk is made by mashing up soya beans in hot water and straining the remaining liquid (see our guide on how to make soy milk for a step by step more detailed guide). Soya beans are packed with protein any soy milk contains all the amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) that the human body needs.
Soya beans are also a great source of fibre so soy milk has the health benefit of containing a good deal more fibre than cows milk which helps our general digestive functions.
Soy milk does contain fats but the fats it contains are good fats and it is cholesterol free which means when replacing cow’s milk it can help prevent clogged arteries and heart disease.
Soy milk is also lactose free. Around 75% of the globes population have some kind of lactose intolerance and this is especially true of those of African and Asian origin. This means that Soy milk is a good alternative to dairy milk for those with a lactose intolerance.
If you are allergic to cows milk then Soy milk might be a good alternative. About 2.5% of children are allergic to cow’s milk whereas only 0.5% of children are allergic to soy milk.
One of the other key features of Soy milk is that it contains isoflavones. These are thought to be linked with a number of health benefits including the prevention of heart disease, some cancers and osteoporosis. In countries where Soy milk is present in the diet rather than cows milk the frequency of these diseases is much lower. Isoflavones are antioxidants which help protect our cells against free radicles and oxidation. Isoflavones are not present in cow’s milk.
Soy milk is also a good source of lecithin, B vitamins and vitamin E. Vitamin E is helpful in maintaining healthy skin.
The Chinese have long drunk soy milk instead of dairy milk and just as the west sometimes flavour their milk (e.g. chocolate milkshake, strawberry smoothie) soy milk can be flavoured using either sweet or savoury flavourings.
Missing elements from soy milk
Although Soy milk has some benefits over cows milk it is also important to realise that is misses some of the important health benefits that cow’s milk can provide.
If you are switching from using cow’s milk to soy milk you should be aware that Soy milk does not contain calcium and so you should allow for this by eating calcium rich foods in other parts of your diet. Other foods rich in calcium include leafy green vegetables such as Kale, sardines and almonds.
Soya milk doesn’t provide the omega-3 fatty acids EPA or DHA.