Soy milk is obtained from soybean scientifically known as Glycine max is a leguminous plant. It is a food plant with diverse property covers almost every nutrient required and therefore can also use a good alternative to meat, egg, and milk. Soy foods are becoming more and more popular because of its healthy nutrient content, taste, and health benefits for health and weight conscious persons. Soy milk benefits are antidiabetic, healthy bones, effective in controlling thyroid, and almost all types of cancer, asthma, breast pain, and also used during menopause (1).
Soy milk benefits
1. Milk alternative for those having cow’s milk allergy
Persons having cow’s milk allergy can use soy milk as unlike cow’s milk, soy milk does not have protein namely casein and whey proteins.
2. Lactose intolerance
Persons who have lactose intolerance can also use soy milk because soy milk does not contain lactose. Therefore not cause any trouble related to lactose in the body.
3. Vegan diet
For vegan diet followers, soy milk is a good option for preparing many milk-based recipes and is also rich in vitamins and nutrients
4. Good for heart
Soy milk has plant-based proteins that are low in cholesterol, therefore, is very beneficial for a healthy heart as it reduces the risk of a heart attack.
5. Promotes weight loss
Soy milk is also low in calorie, therefore, can be consumed during dieting.
6. Contains cancer-fighting Phytoestrogen
Soy contains a unique compound known as isoflavone. Isoflavone is a secondary metabolite or a compound whose structure is similar to the human estrogen hormone. Therefore is also known as a phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens are adaptogens that act like estrogen. This phytoestrogen has health benefits and if consumed in excess may cause some side effects.
Phytoestrogens are believed to reduce the risk of hormone-dependent cancer like breast and prostate cancer (3), further, it also helps in increasing the bone density in postmenopausal women
7. Improves bone health
Soy milk is good for the bone because soy milk contains isoflavones. Isoflavone is commonly known as phytoestrogen as the structure of this is similar to that of estrogen. Isoflavones help in keeping the bone strong and healthy particularly in postmenopausal women (2). Besides this soy milk is also rich in minerals which keeps bones strong.
8. Lowers cholesterol
Soy protein in combination with soy isoflavone helps in lowering the lipid and cholesterol levels of the body. Therefore, it has been suggested that 5 gm soy protein a day helps in reducing the risk of heart attack (1).
9. Healthy kidney
Soy protein is used instead of animal protein to protects from chronic kidney diseases. Soy protein has isoflavones and nutrients and minerals which helps in protecting the kidney from chronic diseases. Also antioxidant activity and lowers the level of phosphorus and sodium keep the kidney healthy in comparison with that of animal protein (6).
10. Good for diabetic
Soy milk is good for diabetic persons as this milk provide a good alternative to traditional milk and also provides calcium and other vitamins and mineral sources. Soy milk also decreases the glucose and cholesterol level and increases glucose tolerance it also in decrease serum D-dimer level in diabetic patients who are suffering from renal problems (7).
Side effects of Soy milk
Apart from the listed soy milk benefits before making it a part of a regular diet, one must consider following soy milk side effects
1. Impaired thyroid function
Soy milk contains phytoestrogen which is similar to estrogen a hormone. Taking too much phytoestrogen may cause thyroid-related problems. Studies(4) shows that excessive soy consumption may result in impaired thyroid function. The maximum dose of 66 mg of phytoestrogen is recommended.
2. Not suitable during pregnancy
A higher dose of soy milk is not recommended during pregnancy. Excessive soy milk drinking might harm the development of the baby (1).
3. Soy-based infant formula milk
Around one-fourth of the US, children are drinking soy-based infant formula. Although soy-based infant formula is in use from the last 40 years and research is still going on to find any side effects related to this milk. But if infants are allergic to cow’s milk then prefer breast milk and if breastmilk is not sufficient enough then consult a doctor before switching to soy-based infant formula (5).