The term plantmilk refers to any non-dairy milk product derived from a plant source. There are a number of different plant-milks available as an alternative to dairy. One of the most popular plantmilks is soy milk.
Like beans and peas, soybeans are a type of legume, which can be processed to create soymilks and tofu or fermented products like miso, soybean paste, tempeh and soy sauce.
Soy foods and soymilks are cholesterol free, low in saturated fat, lactose-free and also provide a unique combination of nutrients and other bio-active compounds which provide a range of health benefits.
Some of the nutrition and health benefits of soy are:
- High quality protein – soy protein is classified as a 'complete' protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids our bodies need.
- Delivers dietary fibre – which is important for helping to keep our bodies ‘regular’, and can assist in heart health.
- Low Glycemic Index (GI) – meaning it will release glucose slowly into the body, providing a sustained energy release.
- Good fats – predominantly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, as well as no cholesterol. The polyunsaturated fats include the essential fatty acids omega-6, and omega-3 – known for their heart benefits.
- Isoflavones – are also considered an antioxidant, working as one of the body’s defence mechanisms. Research is continuing to fully understand the potential benefits of soy and soy isoflavones for heart health, bone health and women’s wellbeing.
- Heart health – some evidence suggests that eating soy, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing blood cholesterol levels.
- Menopause – consuming soy daily may help reduce the severity and frequency of hot flushes in menopausal women. More studies are needed to understand how much soy should be consumed for these benefits to be reaped.
- Cancer – Some researchers believe soy foods may provide protective effects against a range of cancers, including breast cancer, and may also help decrease the likelihood of breast cancer reoccurring in women with a history of the disease. However, much of this research is in its early stages and further studies are needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn.