Soy milk advantages & disadvantages

Written by janet veverka
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Soy milk advantages & disadvantages
The prevalence of soy milk in today's supermarket has raised concerns about its safety. (milk jug image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com)

It has long been known that soy is a heart-healthy plant that provides a long list of beneficial vitamins and nutrients to the human body. Many, however, have speculated on the safety of soy products, particularly soy milk, due to many reasons. Speculations denouncing soy milk's benefits are strictly theoretical and cannot be backed up by empirical data.

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Advantage: Lactose Free

Soy milk contains no milk sugar (lactose); therefore, it is a good dairy substitute for those who are lactose intolerant, which affects between 30 to 50 million people of the world's population according to the U.S. Department of Health and Services.

Advantage: Allergies

Cow's milk provokes allergy symptoms in some people, which is different than lactose intolerance. According to the Children, Youth and Women's Health Service (CYH) in Australia, approximately one in 50 infants are allergic to cow's milk. Although most children grow out of the allergy by age 4, the allergic infant's immune system is unable to recognise milk proteins and therefore reacts adversely in the form of skin rashes and breathing problems. Although some babies who are allergic to cow's milk will also be allergic to soy milk, it can be a good alternative for those who are not. Soy milk can provide the nutrients and vitamins found in cow's milk.

Advantage: Heart Disease

The Soy Foods Association of North America states, "Scientists have found that consumption of soy protein can contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease."

Advantage: Nutritional Value

Soy milk's nutritional highlights include containing a host of essential fatty acids, being a high-quality protein source, having no cholesterol and having very little saturated fat. In addition, soy milk is a good source of vitamins A, B and D, fibre, iron and potassium.

Advantage: Breast Cancer

It has been suggested that women who regularly consume soy products are less likely to develop breast cancer according to studies such as at the National Medical Research Council Clinical Trials and Epidemiology Research Unit in Singapore.

Advantage: Phytochemicals

Soy milk contains a large amount of phytochemicals, including isoflavones, genistein and daidzein. The Loma Linda University in California, Department of Nutrition, has produced evidence that isoflavones help prevent osteoporosis.

Disadvantage: Infant formula

Speculation about the safety of soy-based infant formula has been raised due to there being no studies on the long-term effects of children raised on this formula. Studies are not available due in large amount to soy-based infant formula being relatively new to the market.

Disadvantage: Over-consumption

Soy milk and soy-based products have been theorised to be harmful to a person's health if consumed in large quantities. Speculation has been raised because soy products contain larger amounts of certain nutrients than found in other plants, and soy products also increase the human body's need for certain vitamins. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims.

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