Soy milk is a healthy substitute for cow’s milk. Found in the dairy section of most supermarkets, it is consumed not only by those who are allergic to regular milk, but also by those interested in its many health benefits.
Completely dairy free, soy milk is made from soybeans. Many people consume it because it is a natural source of both calcium and protein. Often, manufacturers add other nutrients to their soy milk, including vitamin D, E and B12, making it even more beneficial for the human body.
Soy milk is a source of calcium and may prove beneficial for those who have trouble getting enough of it from other foods. However, it does not contain as much calcium as cow’s milk, at least not in its natural state. Manufacturers may add calcium to their soy milk products in order to get them closer to the calcium content of cow’s milk. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that research shows calcium that is naturally present in food is healthier and more readily absorbed by the body.
Soy milk contains isoflavones, which are chemical compounds found exclusively in plants. Research shows that isoflavones can help lessen menopause symptoms and prevent bone loss that may lead to osteoporosis. They may also lower the risk of both breast and prostate cancer. Since they’re antioxidants, they can even help the body to fight cell-damaging free radicals.
Low in Fat and Cholesterol Free
One of the benefits of soy milk is that is low in fat and free of cholesterol. This makes it a good choice for people who are trying to lose weight or even just stay fit. Consuming low-fat food and beverages can also help people to avoid serious conditions like heart disease and certain cancers. Soy milk may even contribute to lower cholesterol levels when consumed as part of a diet that is low in saturated fat.
Many people express concern about the hormones, both natural and synthetic, that are typically present in cow’s milk. Some theorize that these hormones contribute to a number of health problems, including hormone fluctuations in the human body, early puberty and cancer. While some wait for research to prove whether the hormones in cow's milk cause significant health problems or not, others opt to drink soy, which is entirely hormone free.
Unfortunately, many people struggle with lactose intolerance, which leaves them unable to consume cow's milk comfortably. A person who is lactose intolerant cannot digest lactose, which is a type of sugar that is naturally present in cow’s milk. When a lactose intolerant person does drink cow's milk, he experiences such unpleasant symptoms as gas, abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea.
Soy milk doesn’t contain lactose, which makes it a good alternative for those who are lactose intolerant. However, it does contain stachyose and raffinose, which are prebiotic substances that help to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the body, giving a boost to the immune system.