Soy milk has grown in popularity over the years as an alternative to dairy milk. A traditional staple in Chinese and Japanese cuisine, soy milk has found its way to the west and arguably, to other parts of the world. Most people take soy milk because of lactose intolerance or sensitivity to dairy, while others take it for ethical reasons, such as interest on animal welfare or reducing their environment footprint by eating lower in the food chain. Others take it just for the wonderful health benefits it contain.
Soy milk is made from soaking, grinding and boiling dried soy beans with water. It’s high fiber, protein, essential fatty acid, vitamin and mineral content makes it a very nutritious drink. Below are some of the incredible health benefits you can get from drinking soy milk.
1. Improved blood cholesterol levels
Soy milk contains zero cholesterol. Also, it is made mostly with unsaturated fat and is naturally high in isoflavones, organic compounds that can significantly lower bad cholesterol levels in your blood while simultaneously raising your good cholesterol levels. This makes soy milk an ideal drink for people with high cholesterol or those at risk of coronary heart diseases.
2. Builds up blood vessel integrity
The omega-3 fatty acids and the isoflavones found in soy can effectively protect the blood vessels from damage and hemorrhage. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to have anti-inflammatory benefits, while isoflavones function as powerful antioxidants. Both of these compounds protect the cells in the blood vessel lining from free radical attacks and oxidative stress by improving the fluidity and flexibility of your blood vessels. This makes them more resilient to blood pressure changes.
The antioxidant effects of isofalvones also help neutralize free radicals that oxidize cholesterol molecules. Oxidized cholesterol stick to artery walls, which in time forms plaque that leads to coronary heart disease.
3. Protection against prostate cancer
Research shows that men who eat a soy-rich diet are less likely to develop prostate cancer. This is due to phytoestrogen, a unique plant hormone found in soy milk that can inhibit testosterone production in men. Lower testosterone levels can help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
4. Protection against osteoporosis
A research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicated that the intake of soy food was strongly associated with a lowered risk of bone fractures, especially in post-menopausal women. Another study by the Oklahoma State University showed that protein from soy is more effective in retaining calcium in the body and in bone formation compared to protein found in milk
Research attributes these bone health benefits to soy milk’s protein and isoflavone content. Isoflavones help inhibit the breakdown of bones. One particular isoflavone, daidzein, acts very similar to the drug ipriflavone, which is used to treat osteoporosis in Asia and Europe.
5. Protection against post-menopausal symptoms
Menopause causes the natural production of estrogen to drop. This creates a number of health problems for postmenopausal women, such as a drastic increase in blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Menopause also puts them at a greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and obesity, as well as psychological disorders like depression and mood swings. The phytoestrogen in soy milk mimics the function of the female sex hormone estrogen, making it an effective replacement to estrogen. Thus, regular intake of soy milk helps prevent and alleviate postmenopausal syndromes.
6. Promotes weight loss
Soy milk is naturally low in sugar, supplying you only 7 grams of sugar per cup as opposed to 12 grams of sugar in dairy milk. Soy milk also contains fiber, which helps you feel fuller longer.