Sales of soybean milk and soymilk makers have soared after the scandal over tainted dairy milk (milk is now safe, health officials state). Supermarkets feature soymilk of all kinds - nonfat, light and regular, many fortified with calcium, minerals and vitamins. Some are flavored chocolate and vanilla.
Doctors warn, however, that soymilk should not be given to infants as it's too difficult to digest.
That said, there's a lot to be said for nutritious soymilk that contains no cholesterol. Beans, including soybeans, are very good for you and contain a lot of protein and fiber. Organic soybeans and soymilk are best.
Soymilk is also becoming popular because consumers are becoming more health conscious and weighing the benefits of dairy milk and soymilk. In fact, it's not a question of either/or: Both are good for you.
Soymilk, also called soy juice, is a stable emulsion of oil, water and protein, which is produced by soaking soybeans and grinding them with water. It must be cooked before it can be drunk. Most commercially packaged soybean milk need not be cooked.
Soymilk has long been a popular alternative for people unable to drink cow's milk, because of lactose intolerance or some vegetarian diets. Eating an organic plant-based diet reduces the risks of chemicals linked to animal production.
Soymilk is an excellent source of low-fat plant-based protein that supplies all nine essential amino acids. It contains considerably more fiber than cow's milk.
One of soymilk's biggest benefits is its isoflavones, plant chemicals that lower LDL cholesterol, also known as the "bad" cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol helps reduce the risk of heart disease and may help prevent some cancers. If you're going for soy, about 25 grams of soy protein per day is recommended for adults.
Soymilk supplies many B-vitamins, but not much essential B12, which is found in cow's milk. Cow's milk provides adults with about 50 percent of their daily B12 requirements.
Unfortified soymilk has much less calcium than cow's milk. One cup of cow's milk provides 30 percent of an adult's daily calcium need, while unfortified soymilk contains only about a quarter of that.
"Rather than choosing one or the other, it's best to include both soymilk and cow's milk into our daily diet," says nutritionist Xu Hui, who has worked in nutrition sector for 24 years.
"They don't interfere with each other ... On the contrary, they make our diet more balanced."
You can try adding both a little cow's milk and a little soymilk to your coffee, cereal or oatmeal.
Some tips about soymilk:
Organic fortified soymilk is an excellent choice and widely available.
If you buy or make raw soymilk, it needs to be cooked because the uncooked milk contains saponins (soapy substances used in detergents), and trypsin inhibitors, which interfere with enzyme and protein processes.
Don't drink soymilk on an empty stomach it can lead to indigestion.
Do not give soymilk to babies check with your doctor.
Do not boil raw eggs with soy milk both lose their nutritive value.