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Soy Milk: Separating Myth from Fact

Soy milk is a non-dairy beverage that is created by first soaking soybeans in water and then grinding this mixture. The mixture is then strained and the fluid that remains is soy milk. Many store bought brands are fortified with calcium, nutrients and vitamins to make it as nutrient dense as cow or sheep’s milk.

Myth: Soy milk is Not as Healthy as Cow’s Milk

Fact: Soy milk naturally contains many healthy benefits. On its own, soy milk is very nutritious. It naturally contains high quality proteins, B-vitamins and isoflavones. This product is naturally sugar free, but be aware that many store bought brands add sugar for taste. Furthermore, soy milk is extremely low in saturated fat and is naturally cholesterol free.

Myth: Soy Milk is Dangerous Because Soy is an Allergen

Fact: While soy is one of the most common food allergens and is harmful to those who are allergic to it, this does not impact the overall safety of the product. The other more common allergens in the world include peanuts, milk, eggs, shellfish and wheat. None of these items are deemed dangerous other than to the individuals who are allergic to them. It is true that individuals who are allergic to soy should avoid soy milk. If you suspect a soy allergy, consult a doctor to verify and always read food labels.

Myth: Soy Contains Harmful Nutrients

Fact: Soy beans, along with numerous other whole grains and legumes, contain a substance called phytic acid. This substance has been linked with reducing mineral absorption, particularly iron absorption. Yet, recent research has shown that long-term consumption of soy products has no negative affect on overall mineral balance.

Myth: Soy Milk is Unsafe For Pregnant Women

Fact: There is no scientific evidence that supports the claim that soy milk negatively impacts pregnant women or their fetuses.

Myth: Soy Milk Contains Estrogen

Fact: The soybean does not contain the estrogen hormone. Soybeans, and therefore soy milk, do contain isoflavones, which are known as "plant estrogen." For humans, isoflavones actually promote heart and bone health, minimize symptoms connected with menopause and may reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Myth: Soy Milk Increases Cancer Risk

Fact: In reality, researchers believe that soy milk actually reduces the risk of certain cancers, particularly breast and prostate cancer.

Myth: Soy Milk Impacts the Immune System

Fact: This myth is based upon a study that shows rodents who were exposed to extremely high quantities of soy milk showed changes in their immune function. No human studies support this finding and actually some studies show that soy milk promotes the immune system function.

Myth: Soy Milk is Dangerous to Children

Fact: Similar to dairy-based milks, soy milk can be a nutritional addition to a child’s diet. Soy milk should not be introduced until a child is at least one year old. Soy milk is a good source of protein and when fortified, calcium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, potassium and vitamin D. Due to the high cases of soy allergies, contact your doctor prior to introducing this product into your child’s diet.

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