Ahoy Soy!

December 17, 2009

Everyone knows that cow’s milk comes from cows. But where does soy milk come from? Soy “milk” is extracted from, as the name suggests, soy beans. The soy beans are cleaned and soaked overnight and then made into a puree. The solids (called okara) are separated out with the help of a strainer, and the remaining liquid is boiled for about 10 minutes. You can easily make soy milk at home using kitchen gadgets that are readily available in the market today. Of course, you can also choose the packaged version in the same market.

Although soy milk has been around for centuries in South-east Asia, it only made its way in to the food lexicon of the rest of the world as a cow’s milk-substitute for the lactose intolerant. Slowly people began to realise that soy milk actually has more health benefits to offer than ordinary cow’s milk.

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  • Isoflavones! The biggest benefit of drinking soy milk comes from the isoflavones. Each cup of soy milk contains about 20 mg isoflavones. Its has benefits associated with a whole host of health issues, with the most striking being the prevention of many cancers (especially prostate and breast cancer). Incidents of these cancers are very low in Asian countries with high intake of soy products, including soy milk. Isoflavones also helps in reduction of cholesterol, ease symptoms of menopause, and prevent osteoporosis. It also minimization of the risk of developing heart disease. In addition to this, Isoflavones are antioxidants.
  • Contains only vegetable protein: Since soy milk is made from beans, it is high in only vegetable proteins. A diet rich in animal (and dairy protein) creates a higher risk for osteoporosis. Vegetable proteins, on the other hand, have the advantage of preventing loss of calcium through the kidneys.
  • Reduces cholesterol. The saturated fats in cow’s milk are unhealthy and increase your cholesterol. Soy milk does have a bit more fat than 2% cow’s milk, but none of the nasty cholesterol.
  • Contains no lactose: It is estimated that about 75 percent of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. Some ethnic groups are more affected than others, for instance, Africans and Asians. Soy milk serves as a healthy alternative to cow’s milk
  • Probiotic sugars: As an additional benefit, soy milk contains the probiotic sugars stachyose and raffinose. These boost one’s immunity and help decrease toxic substances in the body.
  • Has high vitamin content: Soy milk is a good source of vitamins such as vitamin B1, B2, B6, and E.
  • Rich in minerals: Soy milk is rich in minerals like magnesium and carium.
  • Fibre content: Soy is rich in fibre content and thus it is recommended for diabetic patients to lower blood glucose levels

One pitfall of soy milk is that is has only about a quarter of the calcium that cow’s milk has to offer. But manufacturers of packaged soy milk have realised this and have begun to add calcium to the package to overcome this drawback, ensuring that soy milk is healthy in all respects.

It is easy to include soy milk in your diet. You can try using it in any recipe in which you use cow’s milk traditionally. For instance, you can put it in your morning tea or coffee, or pour it over your favourite breakfast cereal. Otherwise you can opt for the flavoured soy milk packets and sip them anytime during the day.

Drinking soy milk can improve your immune system with its army of vitamins, minerals and proteins. So add some soy milk to your day and enjoy a healthier you.

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