I grew up eating soy bean products like tofu and soy milk in Hong Kong. A traditional staple of Chinese and Japanese cuisine, soy bean juice or soy milk is a stable emulsion of oil, water, and protein. It is produced by soaking dry soybeans and grinding them with water. I love soy milk because it's easily digestible and contains about the same proportion of protein as cow's milk. Many Chinese people like salty soy milk, but I like the sweet kind. Like many Asians, I'm lactose-intolerant and can't drink milk. Yet I can eat low-fat traditional yogurt without any side effects because it's a cultured milk product with beneficial bacteria that helps digestion. I believe that natural products made of whole soy are healthy while processed foods with soy protein isolate and other soy supplements may be harmful to our bodies.
According to a popular legend in China, soy milk was developed by Liu An for medicinal purposes. In the U.S, soy milk is available at most grocery stores and upon request at cafés or coffee franchises as a substitute for cow's milk. It has become America's favorite health food because soy’s in more than 60% of processed and packaged food products and in nearly 100% of fast foods. In the U.S, there are confusing, contradictory messages on whether soy is really healthy or not. Soy milk is not always suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
- “We include negative publicity and consumer confusion among the trends that have been contributing to flatter soyfoods/supplements sales in the past few years,” says Sarah Day LeVesque, an analyst at Soyatech, a research and consultancy firm
- David Browne, a senior analyst for Mintel, another market research firm also blames “negative publicity surrounding soy’s impact on hormones and the GMO factor. . .” and adds “We’re seeing some companies actively promote the fact that they don’t use soy.”
- All the negative publicity is “frustrating” says Laurent Leduc, vice president at Frutarom, a leading flavor and fragrance company. However, he thinks “the negative press on soy is down and we are now starting to see a positive trend with new studies on safety and bone health.”
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