Sunday, January 16, 2011

Soy milk - Soy food products

Soy milk (also called soya milk, soymilk, soybean milk, or soy juice) and sometimes referred to as soy drink/beverage is a beverage made from soybeans. 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.
The coagulated protein from soy milk can be made into tofu, just as dairy milk can be made into cheese.
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. It also appeared in a chapter called Four Taboos (Szu-Hui) in the A.D. 82 book called Lunheng by Wang Chong, 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.
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. This legend first started in the 12th century and was not clearly stated until 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 to Liu An, assuming that he could not have made tofu without making soy milk. However, it is also likely that Liu An has been falsely attributed to the development of tofu by writers after his time. However, some recent writers attributed Liu An to have developed tofu in 164 BC.
Plain soy milk is unsweetened, although some soy milk products are sweetened. Salted soy milk is prevalent in China. The drink is very popular in the hawker culture of Malaysia, with it being a standard offering accompanying meals at Malaysian Chinese stalls. In Malaysia, soybean milk is usually flavoured with either 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. In Indonesian is known as "susu kedele". Yeo's, a drink manufacturer in Singapore and Malaysia, markets a commercialized tinned or boxed version of soybean milk.
The drink is slowly becoming popular in India as well. Soy has originally been introduced by Mahatma Gandhi in 1935. Nowadays, it is also widely sold in Tetrapaks by various brands like Staeta.
In the West, soymilk has become a popular alternative to cow's milk, with a roughly similar protein and fat content. Soy milk is commonly available in vanilla and chocolate flavors as well as its original unflavored form. In some Western countries where veganism has made inroads, it is available upon request at cafes and coffee franchises as a cow's milk substitute.
Health benefits
Soy milk 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 humans. 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. 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, soy-based infant formulas 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
  • Contains far less saturated fat than cow's milk.
  • Contains isoflavones, organic chemicals that may possibly be beneficial to health.
Though it has been suggested that soy consumption is associated with a reduction in low-density lipoprotein ("bad cholesterol") and triglycerides, a 2006 study of a decade of soy protein consumption found no association between health benefits (such as cardiovascular health or cancer rates) and soy intake, nor was a benefit found for women undergoing menopause. The benefits of soy were found to be related to their ability to replace animal protein, foods high in saturated fats, add dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Though it has been suggested that soy may affect sperm quality and bone mineral density, there is not enough research on the topics to support these associations.
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, dried shrimp and, for curdling, vinegar, garnished with youtiao croutons, chopped scallion (spring onions), cilantro (coriander), meat floss, or shallot as well as sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil or salt to taste.
Soy milk is used in many kinds of Japanese cuisine, 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, soy cream, soy kefir and soy based cheese analogues.
Nutrients in 8 ounces (250ml) of plain soymilk:
                              Regular Soymilk      Lite Soymilk(reduced fat)
Calories (g)                    140                         100
Protein (g)                     10.0                         4.0
Fat (g)                            4.0                           2.0
Carbohydrate (g)          14.0                         16.0
Sodium (mg)                  120                          100
Iron (mg)                        1.8                           0.6
Riboflavin (mg)               0.1                         11.0
Calcium (mg)                   80                            80

Using soybeans to make milk instead of raising cows may be ecologically advantageous, because the amount of soy that could be grown using the same amount of land would feed more people than if used to raise cows. In the case of organic meat, this is debated, as grazing land for animals, requiring fewer pesticides, is very different from land used to farm. However, with organic food sales at 1 to 2% of total food sales worldwide, this comparison is negligible at present. Moreover, cows require much more energy in order to produce milk, since the farmer must feed the animal, which consumes 40 kilograms (90 pounds) of food and 90 to 180 litres (25 to 50 gallons) of water a day, while a soy bean needs merely fertilization, water, and land. 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. However, these cleared forests are planted with soy intended for animal agricultural enterprises (especially beef and pork production), not for human consumption.
The American soil scientist Dr. Andrew McClung was the first to devise a method to grow soybeans in the Cerrado region of Brazil. He was awarded with the 2006 World Food Prize.

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