Soy milk

Soy milk

Soy milk (also called soya milk, soybean milk, or soy juice) and sometimes referred to as soy drink/beverage is a beverage made from soy beans. A stable emulsion of oil, water and protein, it is produced by soaking dry soybeans, and grinding them with water. 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. Soy milk can be made at home with traditional kitchen tools or with a soy milk machine.

Tofu is made by coagulating the protein from soy milk, just as cheese is made from milk.


The oldest evidence of soy milk production is from China where a kitchen scene proving use of soy milk is incised on a stone slab dated around A.D. 25~220. [ History of Soymilk and Dairy-like Soymilk Products] ] It also appeared in a chapter called Four Taboos (Szu-Hui) in the A.D. 82 book called Lun Heng by Wang Ch'ung, possibly the first written record of soy milk. Evidence of soy milk is rare prior to the 20th century and widespread usage before then is unlikely. [ History of Soymilk and Dairy-like Soymilk Products] ]

According to popular tradition in China, soy milk was developed by Liu An for medicinal purposes, although there is no historical evidence for this legend. [ History of Soymilk and Dairy-like Soymilk Products] ] This legend appeared in the late 15th century in Bencao Gangmu, where Li was attributed to the development of tofu with no mention of soy milk. Later writers in Asia and the West additionally attributed development of soy milk development to Liu An, assuming that he could not have made tofu without making soy milk. However, it is likely that Liu An has been falsely attributed to the development of tofu by writers 1000 years later from his time. [ [ History of Tofu] ]


The Chinese term for soy milk is "豆漿" (Pinyin: "dòu jiāng"; lit. "bean" + "a thick liquid"). In Western nations, soy milk products packaged for Chinese-speaking consumers may be labeled "豆奶". However, there are products in China that is called "dòu nǎi" (豆奶) made from a mix of both cow milk powder and ground, dried soybean. [Vitasoy ingredients listing] [Hi-C soy milk ingredients listing] The Japanese term for soy milk is "tōnyū"(豆乳) which contains no cow milk. In Singapore, it is known as "tau-huey-tzui" (豆花水) in the local Hokkien dialect while in Malaysia it is known as "susu soya" or "air tauhu" in the local Malay language.Soy milk is commonly available in vanilla and chocolate flavors as well as its original unflavored form. Plain soy milk is unsweetened, although most products comes as sweetened, drinking salted soy milk is still very common in China. [Chinese [] Method of making salty soy milk and Youtiao, recipe of 100 most commonly seen home cooking] In many countries, this product may not be sold under the name "milk" since it is not a dairy product, hence the name "soy drink".


In the West, soymilk has become a popular alternative to cow's milk, with a roughly similar protein and fat content. [McGee, Harold. "On Food and Cooking", Scribner, 2004, ISBN 0684800012, p.494] In some Western countries where veganism has made inroads, it is available upon request at cafés and coffee franchises as a cow's milk substitute, usually at an extra cost.

The drink has proved to be very popular in the hawker environment of Penang, Malaysia with it being a standard offering at the numerous coffee shops and hawker centers around the island. The soybean milk, known locally as "tau chui" or "air tauhu/ susu soya" (in Malay literally tofu water or soy milk) is flavored with either a white or brown sugar syrup. The consumer also has the option to add grass jelly, known as "leong fan" or "cincau" (in the Malay language) to the beverage. Sellers of soybean milk in Penang usually also offer bean curd, a related custard-like dessert, known to the locals as "tau hua" which is flavored with the same syrup as the soybean milk.
Yeo's, a drink manufacturer in Singapore and Malaysia, is marketing a commercialized tinned or boxed version of soybean milk. [ [ Soy Bean Milk] on Yeo's website. Accessed 2008-10-08]


Health benefits

Soy milk is nutritionally close to cow's milk. It naturally has about the same amount of protein (though not the same amino acid profile) as cow's milk. Natural soy milk contains little digestible calcium as it is bound to the bean's pulp, which is insoluble in a human. To counter this, many manufacturers enrich their products with calcium carbonate available to human digestion. Unlike cow's milk it has little saturated fat and no cholesterol, which is a benefit. Soy products contain sucrose as the basic disaccharide, which breaks down into glucose and fructose. Since soy doesn't contain galactose, a product of lactose breakdown, it can safely replace breast milk in children with Galactosemia.

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

*Source of lecithin and vitamin E
*Lacks casein
*It is safe for people with lactose intolerance or milk allergy
*Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are good for the heart. (It should be noted that whole milk has just as much monounsaturated fat as soy milk; and while it has less polyunsaturated, it contains the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that soy milk lack.)
*Contains isoflavones, organic chemicals that may possibly be 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 of St. Louis. This meta-analysis concluded that soy protein is correlated with significant decreases in serum cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL, bad cholesterol), and triglyceride concentrations. However, high density lipoprotein (HDL, good cholesterol), did not increase. Soy phytoestrogens (isoflavones:genistein and daidzein) absorbed onto the soy protein were suggested as the agent reducing serum cholesterol levels. [cite journal|last=Anderson |first=JW |authorlink= |coauthors= BM Johnstone, ME Cook-Newell |date=August 3, 1995 |title=Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids |journal=Circulation |url= |accessdate= 2007-07-05] 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 of soy milk (1 cup or 240 mL), 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 cast doubt on the FDA-allowed "Heart Healthy" claim for soy protein. [cite journal|last= Sacks |first=Frank M. |authorlink= |coauthors= Alice Lichtenstein, Linda Van Horn, William Harris, Penny Kris-Etherton, Mary Winston |date=January 17, 2006 |title=Soy Protein, Isoflavones, and Cardiovascular Health |journal=Circulation |url= |accessdate= 2007-07-05 |pmid=16418439 |doi=10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.171052 |volume=113 |pages=1034] 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. Among the conclusions the authors state, "In contrast, soy products such as tofu, soy butter, soy nuts, or some soy burgers should be beneficial to cardiovascular and overall health because of their high content of polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and low content of saturated fat. Using these and other soy foods to replace foods high in animal protein that contain saturated fat and cholesterol may confer benefits to cardiovascular health." [cite journal |title=Soy Protein, Isoflavones, and Cardiovascular Health — Conclusions|journal=Circulation |url= |accessdate= 2007-07-05 |pmid=16418439 |doi=10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.171052 |year=2006 |author=Sacks, F. M. |volume=113 |pages=1034]

Negative health effects

However, the soy industry has also received similar criticism for reasons which include (but are not limited to) the following:

*A 2008 study found that men who consume an average of half a portion of soy products per day are more likely to have a lower concentration of sperm. citeweb|url=|title=Study links low sperm with high soy consumption|accessdate=2008-08-08|]
*High levels of phytic acid, which binds to important nutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron, [cite journal|last= Hurrell |first=RF |authorlink= |coauthors= MA Juillerat, MB Reddy, SR Lynch, SA Dassenko, JD Cook |date=September, 1992 |title=Soy protein, phytate, and iron absorption in humans |journal=Am J Clin Nutr |url=
accessdate= 2007-07-15
] and zinc, during digestion. However, as a comparison, cow's milk is known for significantly slowing down the absorption of iron [ [ Iron-Deficiency Anemia ] ] and, additionally, calcium from other than dairy sources (like kale, sesame).

Although in general soy milk is not suitable for babies or infants Fact|date=August 2008, there exist baby formulas based on soy protein, 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 commonly contain extra carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals. However, care must be taken that children with "Soy protein intolerance" are not fed soy milk. Heinz Soya Infant Formula is approved by the Vegan Society in the UK. Fact|date=August 2008


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 purée 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 fiber or "okara") by filtration.

There is a simple yet profound 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 problem of foaming. It is generally opaque, white or off-white in color, and approximately the same consistency as cow's milk.

For all raw soybean protein products heat is necessary to destroy the activity of the protease inhibitors naturally present in the soybean. The pancreas naturally secretes proteases to digest a protein meal. Eating raw soybeans on a regular basis causes the pancreas to hypersecrete, leading to benign tumors of the pancreas (just like exercise causes muscles to develop hypertrophy). This is why the above heating to properly prepare soymilk is essential for fatty acid breakdown.

When soybeans absorb water, the endogenous enzyme, Lipoxygenase (LOX), EC linoleate:oxidoreductase, catalyzes a reaction between polyunsaturated fatty acids and oxygen {hydroperoxidation}. 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 paint-like, off-flavors of traditional soy milk 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 soy milks 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 by homogenization as to be in permanent suspension.

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


Soy milk is found in many vegan and vegetarian food products and can be used as a replacement for cow's milk in many recipes.

"Sweet" and "salty" soy milk are both traditional Chinese breakfast foods, served either hot or cold, usually accompanied by breads like mantou (steamed rolls), "youtiao" (deep-fried dough), 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 (榨菜), dried shrimp and, for curdling, vinegar, garnished with "youtiao" croutons, chopped scallion (spring onions), cilantro (coriander), meat floss (肉鬆; "ròu sōng"), or shallot as well as sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil or salt to taste.

Soy milk is used in many kinds of Japanese Cooking, such as in making yuba as well as sometimes a base soup for nabemono.

In Korean cuisine, soy milk is used as a soup for making "kongguksu", cold noodle soup eaten mostly in summer.

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

Soy milk is also used in making soy yogurt and soy kefir.

Nutrition and health information

Nutrients in 8 ounces (250ml) of plain soymilk: [ [ Soymilk on ] ]

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 [ [ LEAD digital library: Livestock’s long shadow - Environmental issues and options ] ] . This is debated as grazing land for animals is very different from land used to farm, and requires fewer pesticides. However, cows require much more energy in order to produce milk, since the farmer must feed the animal, which consumes 40 kilos (90 pounds) of food and 90 to 180 liters (25 to 50 gallons) of water a day, [] while a soy bean needs merely fertilization, water and land.Failed verification|date=June 2008 Because the soybean plant is a legume, it also replenishes the nitrogen content of the soil in which it is grown.

In Brazil the explosion of soybean cultivation has led to losing large tracts of forest land leading to ecological damage [citeweb|url=|title=Soy Expansion – Losing Forests to Fields] ; however, these cleared forests are planted with soy intended for animal agricultural enterprises--not human consumption. [citeweb|url=,,1747904,00.html|title=The 7,000km journey that links Amazon destruction to fast food]

It was an American soil scientist, Dr. Andrew McClung, who first devised a method to grow soybeans in the Cerrado region of Brazil. He was awarded with the 2006 World Food Prize. [citeweb|url=|title=Cornell alumnus Andrew Colin McClung reaps 2006 World Food Prize]

ee also

* Almond milk
* Chinese cuisine
* Douzhi
* Grain milk
* Oat milk
* Peanut milk
* Plant milk
* Rice milk
* Soy allergy
* Soybean
* Soy cheese
* Soy milk maker
* Soy protein
* Soy yogurt
* Tofu



*Rahab Waweru, M.A., et al. 1967. Effect of processing methods on oxidative off-flavors of soybean milk. "Cereal and Food Sciences" North Nairobi State University, Ministry of Agriculture. cite web | title=Soy Milk | publisher=Soya | | url= | accessmonthday=August 17 | accessyear=2005
*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.
*Calvert, John (2000). [ "Soymilk Microenterprise: A Treatise on Small-Scale Soymilk Production"]
*William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi (1979). "Tofu & Soymilk Production". Lafayette, California: New-Age Foods Study Center.
*William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi (2000). "Tofu & Soymilk Production." 3rd edition. Lafayette, California: Soyfoods Center. ISBN 0-933332-72-6.
*William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi (1994). "Soymilk and soymilk products - Bibliography and sourcebook, 1500 to 1993: Detailed information on 3,120 published documents (extensively annotated bibliography), 968 commercial soymilk products, 506 original interviews (many full text) and overviews, 462 unpublished archival documents. Lafayette, California: Soyfoods Center. ISBN 0-933332-84-X.
*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) [] .
* Frank M. Sacks MD, et a. (2006) " [ Soy Protein, Isoflavones, and Cardiovascular Health. An American Heart Association Science Advisory for Professionals From the Nutrition Committee] " in Circulation.

External links

;Advocacy and nutritional information
* [ American Soybean Association]
* [ Cornell University Food and Brand Lab]
* [ Evaluation of Anti-Soy Data and Anti-Soy Advocates]
* [,,1839434,00.html Guardian - There's no risk to humans from soya]
* [ Soy Heart healthy claims in dispute]
* [ Soyinfo Center - SoyaScan database and books]
* [ Soy information at Soyatech]

* [ Harvard Med School Study - Soy causes low sperm count]
* [ Concerns Regarding Soybeans]
* [,,1828158,00.html Guardian - Should we worry about soya in our food?]
* [ Health Canada: Soy - One of the nine most common food allergens]
* [ Soya 'Link' To Male Infertility]
* [ Soy Allergy Information Page] Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
* [ Soy Online Service] This page provides exclusively and solely anti-soy information

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