Soy milk is probably the most popular dairy milk substitute on the market. Though it is relatively new in the West, soy milk has been popular for hundreds of years in most parts of Asia. Though the reasons for drinking vary, most agree that the health benefits of soy milk make it an attractive feature in the popular beverage. Though soy is a common food allergen, it still remains a popular and healthier alternative to traditional dairy milk.
Some people turn to soy milk because they are lactose intolerant. This condition causes one to develop a lactose allergy that causes uncomfortable digestion problems such as gas and diarrhea. Others, such as vegans, chose to omit animal products and byproducts form their diets. In this case, soy milk is popular because it is made from no animal byproducts and is completely natural. Still others prefer soy milk for its health benefits.
Though dairy milk campaigns claim how healthy milk is, it is only in the low-fat and skim milk varieties that are actually deemed “healthy”. Unlike whole milk, soy milk is naturally low in fat. Regular soy milk contains only slightly more fat than 2 percent dairy milk; however, it is free from saturated fat which is more unhealthy than unsaturated fat.
Because it does not contain any animal byproducts, soy milk does not contain any cholesterol, whereas dairy milk contains about 20mg of cholesterol per serving. Soy milk is also quite high in protein. Though soy milk has a comparably amount of protein to that of regular dairy milk, soy milk proteins are easier to digest and are absorbed more rapidly into the body.
Most soy milk found in stores is fortified with calcium and B vitamins, making it as nutritious as dairy milk. Some may argue the benefits of fortified calcium as opposed to naturally occurring calcium, however in either case; it is a benefit for bone and muscular health. Plus for those that cannot have dairy milk due to lactose intolerance, the fortified calcium in soy milk is a benefit they would not get otherwise.
Another issue that is often called into play is hormones. Cow milk does contain estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that occur naturally in animal milk. However, studies have shown that regular ingestion of these hormones in children can lead to early sexual puberty and certain types of cancers. Soy milk contains no hormones, and studies have actually shown that consumption of soy milk can combat some cancers that regular dairy milk can induce. In the U.S., cows are sometimes treated with synthetic hormones, which have also been linked to various types of cancers.
Soy milk is said to have a nutty flavor, but many flavor options are available. The most popular is vanilla soy milk, as it is said to have the closest regular milk flavor. Though the taste may take some getting used to, soy milk is a perfect option for dairy milk replacement. It can be used in most the same way as milk: as a snack, over cereal, or in one’s favorite meals.