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Soy Milk: Is It Good for You?

Apr 20, 2010

Soy milk is a nutritionally dense drink and a wonderful milk alternative. Made from grinding soy beans that have been soaked in water, soy milk delivers a high dose of essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals that support your basic body functions and promote more efficient metabolism. Soy milk is also high in antioxidants and phytosterols, which help strengthen your immune system and protect you from diseases. Including soy milk as a part of your daily diet is, for all practical purposes, a smart move. However, there are certain debatable shortcomings that should also be noted when you decide on a drink of choice.

Soy Milk Promotes Better Cardiovascular Health

Drinking or baking with whole milk can raise your blood cholesterol level and increase your risk of plaque formation. Soy milk is naturally cholesterol free. Its high concentration of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids can effectively block both dietary and synthesized cholesterol from entering your blood stream. Studies have shown that regular intake of soy can reduce blood triglyceride and low density lipoprotein (LDL) concentrations and raise your high density lipoprotein (HDL). The combined action can significantly improve your blood profile and lower your risks of strokes and heart attacks.

You can also protect your blood vessels by drinking soy milk. Soy contains phytosterols with powerful antioxidant actions, which defend your blood vessel cells from free radical attacks. Drinking soy milk can make your blood vessels stronger and more flexible so that they respond better to changes in blood pressure.

Soy Milk Helps Prevent Postmenopausal Syndromes

Drinking soy milk can supply your body with an extra dose of phytoestrogen. This plant hormone is found exclusively in soy and can mimic the functions of the human estrogen. Estrogen production declines drastically during menopause, leading to a number of physiological and psychological side effects. Menopausal women show a sudden rise in blood cholesterol, which significantly increases their risk of heart diseases. Reduced estrogen production can also lead to the loss of bone mass and the development of osteoporosis. Postmenopausal women are also highly susceptible to depression, anxiety, insomnia and mood swings. Drinking soy milk can effectively replenish your blood estrogen and prevent these life inhibiting diseases.

Should Men Drink Soy Milk?

The effect of phytoestrogen is quite beneficial to men. The male sex hormone testosterone can induce the development of prostate cancer. Soy estrogen can inhibit testosterone production. Studies have proved that soy intake can prevent cell mutation and cancer growth. It is also especially effective in treating prostate cancer.

However, there is one study that suggests that soy intake can cause decreased sperm count. This theory is controversial because the study finding was only limited to overweight Caucasian men.

Soy and Breast Cancer

Whether soy intake can increase breast cancer risk is also unknown. However, soy estrogen can interfere with breast cancer chemotherapy and drug treatment. You should not drink soy milk if you are currently undergoing breast cancer treatment.

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