Good and Bad of Soya Milk

Off late, Soya milk has become very popular for its health benefits. A great number of people are shifting from cow’s milk to Soya milk. Soya milk, rich in calcium, vitamin E and phytoestrogens and low in cholesterol has been especially popular amongst women. However, Soya and its products have not been given a completely clean chit by all sectors.  Researchers have a divided opinion when it comes to Soya. While it is important for everyone to understand thoroughly about any product that they take, surprisingly most of the people though curious, do not have enough knowledge about Soya and Soya milk.

What is Soya milk or soymilk?

Soya milk is an extract of whole soybeans. The dried soybeans are soaked in water for 4-8 hours. They are then ground with sufficient amounts of water. The puree formed is then boiled. Boiling is supposed to destroy the toxins present in soybeans and also sterilize the product. Once boiled, the pulp is filtered out to leave behind thin milky liquid, which is the Soya milk.

Natural Soya milk comes with it’s own strong flavor. It can be consumed unsweetened if one can tolerate the taste. Several brands of Soya milk fortified with sweeteners like cane syrup, or rice milk or artificial sweeteners are available in the market. Soya milk is also available in different flavors like vanilla and chocolate.

Is Soya milk a healthy alternative to cow’s milk?

According to research, soymilk is nutritionally close to cow’s milk. It contains the same amount of proteins as the cow’s milk. However, the type of proteins in both cases is different. Remember that they both come from entirely different sources; they can be similar but not same.

Natural Soya milk has less amounts of digestible calcium than cow’s milk. It also has fewer amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. Soya milk also contains mono and polyunsaturated fats, Phytoestrogens and Isoflavones, which are not found in cow’s milk. The commercially sold products are also additionally fortified with Vitamins and Calcium Carbonate.

Unlike cow’s milk, Soya milk does not contain Galactose, which is formed by the breakdown of Lactose in milk. For those who are allergic to dairy products and lactose, Soya milk is a good alternative source of protein and calcium. For people looking at complete vegetarianism, Soya is once again a good substitute to dairy milk. Soya milk is also recommended for its numerous health benefits; so even otherwise, any body can consume Soya milk as an alternative to cow’s milk. Before doing so, it is important to understand the benefits and controversies associated with it and then decide on what applies best to your logic.

What are the health benefits of Soya milk?

  • As compared to the greater number of people who are allergic to cow’s milk, there are very few who are allergic to Soya milk. So more number of people can benefit with Soya milk as a source of protein and calcium.
  • Soya milk is highly recommended for individuals with heart disease and cholesterol problems. The poly and mono unsaturated fats, along with fiber, help reduce cholesterol and prevent coronary heart disease.
  • Soya is also a rich source of minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus.
  • Soya milk contains Vitamin E, which is recommended for healthy hair, skin and to improve fertility in women.
  • Soya milk contains Phytoestrogens, which mimic the natural estrogens found in the human body. A group of professionals claim that these phytoestrogens can benefit women undergoing menopausal changes and reduce symptoms like hot flushes, vaginal dryness, and dry skin. Soya is supposed to reduce signs of heat in the body.
  • The isoflavones found in Soya milk have numerous health benefits like reducing cholesterol, prevention of breast and colon cancer, and protect our cells against damage.
  • Researchers also claim that Soya milk can boost our immune system.
  • The risk for Osteoporosis and kidney disease is said to be lower in people who consume Soya milk.

What goes against Soya?

There is a huge debate on the benefits versus possible health risks associated with Soya consumption. A number of researcher’s have suggested that excessive consumption of Soya products, especially the refined products like milk, flour and tofu may cause damage to one’s health.

  • Soybeans contain certain toxins like ‘Phytic acid’, which can bind to minerals like zinc, Iron, magnesium and calcium impeding the digestion and absorption of these minerals. So those who consume Soya milk regularly, but do not eat much of fruits and vegetables or animal food, may be at a greater risk of developing deficiency of these minerals.
  • Excessive concentration of Phytoestrogens in soymilk is raising questions about it being used as infant formula milk for babies who are allergic to cow’s milk. Babies are supplied with such high amounts of estrogens that they can cause changes at a later age like early puberty in girls, thyroid gland disorders, and delayed maturation in boys.
  • The increasing demand for Soya products has given way to genetically modified seeds in order to achieve bigger profits. Soya milk extracted from genetically modified beans could possibly cause health risks, apart from it being ethically against nature.
  • Soya is not advisable for people suffering from thyroid problems. Those with a sensitive or irritable digestive system, and those with problems related to excessive mucus secretion should not take Soya products as Soya is said to reduce heat and create signs of dampness in the body.

What is the best approach?

As always, you get the best results when you remain moderate. Even the best of nutrients when consumed in excess can be harmful to health. So be it Soya or any other food, consume in moderation and you will benefit from it.

Play it safe with the right balance. You can consume Soya milk 2-3 times a week in moderate amounts to get all the health benefits, but be aware of what you are taking in. Choose products that are of good quality, not genetically modified, and without any artificial additives. Look for organic products. You can also try products that are fortified with calcium and vitamins.

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