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Soy Milk vs. Regular Milk: Which Is Healthier?

Apr 20, 2010

Soy milk is the first and the most popular milk alternative. In terms of nutrition, soy milk surpasses all other nondairy milk substitutes like almond and rice milk with a complete panel of essential nutrients your body relies on for growth and development. It also contains disease preventing phytosterols, which are not found in cow's milk. A lot of people argue that soy milk surpasses cow's milk in terms of nutritional value and health benefits. The truth of the matter is: they are both advantageous in certain areas and have shortcomings that make them not always suitable for all people.

Children and Milk

Unless your children are intolerant to lactose or casein, they should keep drinking dairy milk. They should especially consume the varieties that are fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

One of the most important nutrients to support your children's growth and development is calcium. Babies and young children need a diet rich in calcium, so that it can be easily absorbed by their bodies. Soy milk is by nature much lower in calcium compared to cow's milk. Even calcium-fortified soy milk loses to cow's milk in terms of the ease of absorption. The lactose in cow's milk catalyzes calcium uptake in the intestines, so that more calcium can be absorbed.

Another setback regarding soy milk nutrition is the potential to trigger allergies. Just like the milk protein casein, soy proteins can also lead to anaphylactic reactions, and these occurrences are more prevalent and more severe in children than in adults. Children who are sensitive to soy can exhibit allergic symptoms such as hives, swelling and diarrhea if they drink soy milk. In more serious cases, they can have breathing difficulties and other life-threatening syndromes. 

Drink Soy Milk to Protect Your Heart

Elderly and heart patients are most suited to use soy milk as a dairy alternative. Whole milk contains a significant amount of saturated fat and cholesterol which increase the risk of plaque formation and heart disease. Skim milk does not have this problem, but it is watery and much less appetizing.

Soy milk is naturally cholesterol free with an extra dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids that can effectively reduce your blood cholesterol level. The phytosterols in soy milk can further improve your heart conditions by controlling your blood pressure and preventing cholesterol absorption in your intestines. Studies have shown that drinking soy milk can lower your risks for atherosclerosis and strokes, making them an effective aid in prevention and treatment of heart diseases.

Switch to Soy Milk for Weight Control

Each cup of plain soy milk contains about 7 grams of sugar and 80 calories. Soy milk also contains fiber which is not present in dairy milk. The extra fiber makes soy milk more filling for natural suppression of your appetite. Additionally, the monounsaturated fatty acids can inhibit fat absorption during digestion and reduce the chance of fat storage.  

Soy Milk Prevents Prostate Cancer

Phytosterols in soy milk mimics the function of human estrogen. Studies have shown that men who regularly eat soy products have significantly lower prostate cancer risks than men who do not.

 

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