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Facts on Soymilk

Soy milk (also called soymilk, soya milk, soybean milk, soy bean milk, soy drink, or soy beverage) is a milk-like product made from soybeans.
Soy milk originated in Eastern Asia, China, a region where the soybean was native and used as food long before the existence of written records. Later on, the soybean and soybean foods were transplanted to Japan. Soybean or "vegetable" milk is reported to have been developed and used in China by the philosopher Whi Nain Tze, who is credited also with the development of doufu or 'Tofu' in Japan.

Soybean's oil and protein is to the germinating soy seedling as casein, milk protein, and milk fat is to a baby mammal: food-nutrients for growth.
Traditional soy milk, a stable emulsion of oil, water, protein-- is simply an aqueous extract of whole soybeans. Soy milk contains about the same proportion of protein as cow's milk~ around 3.5%; also 2% fat, 2.9% carbohydrate and 0.5% ash.

The Mandarin Chinese term for what English speakers call soy milk is djiang (literally "soy liquid"). In western nations, soy milk is more commonly sold under the term dnai (lit. "soy milk") than djiang, although the two terms are often used interchangeably. However, there is a product in China that is called dnai, which is a dry miscible powder made of both cow and soy milk.
The Japanese term for soy milk is tounyu.

In the United States, soy milk is commonly available in vanilla and chocolate flavors as well as its original unflavored form.

In China, soy milk is popular enough to warrant its availability at Western restaurant chains such as Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks.

In Japan, the consumption of cow's milk now exceeds that of soy milk. Cafes that offer soy milk tend to be foreign franchises. It is, however, almost always available at Japanese tofu shops and supermarkets.

Soy milk has increased in popularity in the West as a substitute for cow's milk. In many Western nations it is available upon request at most cafe and coffee franchises as a cow's milk substitute, usually at an extra cost.

Soy milk is nutritionally close to cow's milk, though most soy milk commercially available today contains artificially added vitamins such as Vitamin B12 not naturally present. It naturally has about the same amount of protein as cow milk. Natural soy milk contains little digestable calcium as it is bound to the bean's pulp, which is insoluble in a human. To counter this, many manufacturers artificially enrich their products with calcium carbonate which can dissolve in the acid of the stomach. Notably it has little saturated fat, which many consider to be beneficial.

Soy milk is promoted as a healthy alternative to cow's milk for reasons including:

  • Contains less antibiotics, hormones, fat, cholesterol, excess protein, or links to cancer, diabetes, and other diseases
  • Phytochemicals reduce the risk of cancer
  • Soy protein reduces the levels of cholesterol and lessens the incidences of atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes management through its ability to control blood sugar levels
    Source of lecithin and vitamin E
  • Lacks casein
  • Soy milk is pareve and so may be consumed along with meat by Jews who keep kosher
  • Safe for people with lactose intolerance or allergy to cow's milk
  • Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are good for your heart.
  • Contains isoflavones, natural soy nutrients that are beneficial to health.

In 1995 the New England Journal of Medicine (Vol.333, No. 5) published a report from the University of Kentucky entitled "Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Soy Protein Intake on Serum Lipids." It was financed by the PTI division of DuPont,"The Solae Co."[1] St.Louis. This meta-analysis concluded that soy protein is correlated with significant decreases in serum cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL), a.k.a. bad cholesterol, and triglyceride concentrations. However, high density lipoprotein (HDL) a.k.a. good cholesterol, did not increase. Soy phytoestrogens (isoflavones:genistein and daidzein) adsorbed onto the soy protein were suggested as the agent reducing serum cholesterol levels. On the basis of this research PTI, in 1998, filed a petition with FDA for a health claim that soy protein may reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.

The FDA granted this health claim for soy: "25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease." One serving (1 cup or 240 mL) of soy milk, for instance,contains 6 or 7 grams of soy protein.

In January 2006 an American Heart Association review (in the journal Circulation) of a decade long study of soy protein benefits casts doubt on the FDA allowed "Heart Healthy" claim for soy protein. The panel also found that soy isoflavones DO NOT reduce post menopause "hot flashes" in women nor do isoflavones help prevent cancers of the breast, uterus or prostate.[2]
The original paper in the journal Circulation: January 17,2006[3]

However, the soy industry has also received similar criticism from the dairy industry for reasons including:

  • High levels of phytic acid
  • Hemagglutinin content.Soybean hemagglutinins are glycoproteins that cause red blood cells to agglutinate or clump together. Hemagglutinins are concentrated in the whey protein fraction of soy milk. Hemagglutinating activity of raw soybeans is readily destroyed by moist heat treatment. This is similar to a substance found in flu viruses, although it is rather unlikely to be harmful unless the soy milk is taken intravenously. Processing of soybeans, including genetic modification, which may result in lysinoalanine or nitrosamines
  • Trypsin inhibitors content
  • Soy phytoestrogens as antithyroid agents
  • Aluminum content.

Although in general soy milk is not suitable for babies or infants, there exist baby formulas based on soy protein, i.e. soy milk, that are used primarily in the case of lactose intolerant children, those allergic to cow's milk or parental preference for a vegetarian or vegan diet. These formulas are commonly named "soy milk", but contain extra carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals. However care must be taken that children with "Soy protein intolerance" are not fed soy milk.

Soy milk can be made from whole soybeans or full-fat soy flour. The dry beans are soaked in water overnight or for a minimum of 3 hours or more depending on the temperature of the water. The rehydrated beans then undergo wet grinding with enough added water to give the desired solids content to the final product. The ratio of water to beans on a weight basis should be about 10:1. The resulting slurry or puree' is brought to a boil in order to improve its nutritional value by heat inactivating soybean trypsin inhibitor, improve its flavor and to sterilize the product. Heating at or near the boiling point is continued for a period of time, 15-20 minutes, followed by the removal of an insoluble residue (soy pulp or okara) by filtration. There is a key difference between traditional Chinese and Japanese soy milk processing: the Chinese method boils the filtrate (soy milk) after a cold filtration, while the Japanese method boils the slurry first, followed by hot filtration of the slurry. The latter method results in a higher yield of soy milk but requires the use of an anti-foaming agent or natural defoamer during the boiling step. Bringing filtered soy milk to a boil avoids the dangerous problem of foaming. It is generally opaque, white or off-white in color, and approximately the same consistency as cow's milk. In some countries, it is marketed under the name soy drink, the term milk being reserved for dairy products.

To someone who never drank traditional soy milk made from soaked and ground soybeans as a child, soy milk is usually unpalatable. The reason for this is that once the soybean absorbs water the endogenous enzyme, Lipoxygenase (LOX), EC linoleate:oxidoreductase, catalyzes a reaction between polyunsaturated fatty acids and oxygen {hydroperoxidation}. The reaction produces chemicals having an undesirable aroma and flavor that can best be described as rancid, painty, beany, or grassy. Moreover, LOX initiates the formation of free radicals, which can then attack other cell components. Soybean seeds are the richest known sources of LOXs. It is thought to be a defensive mechanism by the soybean against fungal invasion.

In 1967, experiments at Cornell University and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva, NY led to the discovery that the "painty" off-flavors of traditional soymilk can be prevented from forming by a rapid hydration grinding process of dehulled beans at temperatures above 80 ?C. The quick moist heat treatment inactivates the LOX enzyme before it can have a significant negative effect on flavor. All modern bland soymilks have been heat treated in this manner to destroy LOX.

Normal mature soybeans actually contain three LOX isozymes (SBL-1, SBL-2, and SBL-3) important for undesirable flavor development. One or more of these isozymes have recently (1998) been removed genetically from soybeans yielding soy milk with less cooked beany aroma and flavor and less astringency. An example of a triple LOX-free soybean is the American soybean named "Laura".

The University of Illinois has developed a soy milk that makes use of the entire soybean. What would normally constitute "insolubles" are ground so small as to be in permanent suspension.

The characteristic "beany flavor" of soymilk can be removed by soaking the beans for half an hour in hot starch water (5% starch solution or kanjivellam). Soaking the beans and then rinsing with a continuous stream of cold water may also give the desired results.

Commercial products labeled "soy drink" in the West are often derivatives of soy milk containing more water or added ingredients.

A home recipe for those who want to try making their own. You will need a blender, cheese cloth, a tall pot, clean containers, heavy clean rubber gloves, water, and soybeans. Rinse the dry soybeans clean. Put 3 cups of water and one cup of dry soybeans in the blender, and grind until it is a little rougher than drip coffee grinds. Dump into a tall pot. Repeat with the desired quantity in the same ratio of dry beans to water. Be sure that the ground mix is only a third of the height of the pot, or it will get messy.

Boil the pot, while stirring. Once boiling, enzymatic deactivation from the soybeans will cause severe foaming to occur, and the pot will bubble up rapidly. Cut the heat and stir the bubbles down, and increase the heat again. Repeat multiple times causing the solution to bubble up, and stirring it down. After about 20 minutes the solution will cease foaming, so no more bubbles will be created. This indicates the undesirable tasting enzymes are gone, so for best taste always boil until the solution stops gassing off. At this point, strain the mix through the cheesecloth into the containers. The solids should be squeezed in the cheesecloth to get the most milk. Wear the thick gloves while straining, the soy solids will be very hot. The residual solids are called okara, and can be used in soyburgers, or as a meat-substitute additive to things like pasta sauce. The soy milk containers should be refrigerated ASAP, they will last 2-3 weeks.

Soy milk is found in many vegan and vegetarian food products and can be used as a replacement for cow's milk in most recipes. Such substitution has a low impact on foods like pancakes, but there is a noticeable difference when making foods such as macaroni and cheese or quiche.

Soy milk is used in many kinds of Japanese Cooking, such as in making yuba as well as sometimes a base soup for nabemono.It is quite popular in Japan right now, and can be found in an array of foods for its healthy qualities. Kanebo Foods has released I.V, a soy milk-based ice cream sold at convenience stores. It can even be found in popsicle form.

"Sweet" and "salty" soy milk are both traditional Chinese breakfast foods, usually accompanied by breads like mantou (steamed rolls), youtiao (fried crullers), and shaobing (sesame flatbread). The soy milk is typically sweetened by adding cane sugar or, sometimes, simple syrup. "Salty" soy milk is made with a combination of chopped pickled mustard greens, dried shrimp and, for curdling, vinegar, garnished with youtiao croutons, chopped scallion, cilantro, meat floss, or shallot as well as sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil or salt to taste.

Tofu is produced from soy milk by further steps of curdling and then draining.

Ecological impact
Using soybeans to make milk instead of raising cows is said to have ecological advantages, as the amount of soy that could be grown using the same amount of land would feed more people than if used to raise cows. Because the soybean plant is a legume, it also replenishes the nitrogen content of the soil in which it is grown. This however is not valid in many parts of the developing world where feed for cows and buffaloes is not cultivated separately but is often the by product of rice or other vegetable cultivation intended primarily for humans. In fact, excessive soy cultivation is often counterproductive in such countries. In countries like Brazil, the explosion of soybean cultivation has led to losing large tracts of forest land leading to ecological damage WWF.


  • AGD So Natural
  • Alpro
  • Dressler's
  • Eden Foods
  • 8th Continent
  • Kikkoman
  • Moca Mix
  • Nutrisoya
  • Plamil
  • Revival Soy
  • So Good
  • Silk
  • SoyaWorld
  • Imagine Foods - makers of Soy Dream
  • Vitasoy
  • Yeo's


  • Soy Milk. Soya. URL accessed on August 17, 2005. Wilkins,W.F.,et al.1967.Effect of processing methods on oxidative off-flavors of soybean milk.
  • Food Technol. 21: 1630-1633. Torres-Penaranda,A.V.,et al.1998. Sensory characteristics of soymilk and tofu made from Lipoxygenase-Free and Normal soybeans. Journal of Food Science 63 (6): 1084-1087.
  • Smith,A.K. and Circle,S.J.1972. Soybeans: Chemistry and Technology. AVI publishing
  • William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi (1979). Tofu & Soymilk Production. VolumeII: New-Age Foods Study Center.
  • William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi (2000). Tofu & Soymilk Production: The Book of Tofu Vol.II, 3rd edition. Soyfoods Center.
  • Liu, KeShun.1997. Soybeans: Chemistry, Technology, and Utilization. Chapman & Hall.
  • Ang, Catharina Y. W., KeShun Liu, and Yao-Wen Huang, eds. (1999). Asian Foods: Science & Technology. Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Technomic Publishing Co.
  • Berk,Zeki.1992. FAO (UN) [16].
  • Circulation: [17]
  Copyright © 2006 Andy's Market. This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Soy Milk".

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