‘Health is wealth’ is something which we all agree upon. But, giving up a highly calorific and malicious food product to remain healthy, is what most of us do not want to agree upon. Especially, obese people find it very difficult to give up on dairy products which are rich in fat content. On the other hand, there is Veganism, which strictly avoids the use of any kind of animal product either due to moral concern or due to vegetarianism. Either way, these classes of people are definitely missing on important nutritious content that are essential for proper nourishment of human body. Soy products serve as an excellent alternative to dairy products with almost similar nutrition content, but in a healthier form.
Soymilk has been produced traditionally in China, but was never a predominant element in the popular diet. Most people in East-Asia have not traditionally consumed animal milks or dairy products, despite an abundance of milk-producing animals such as cows, buffaloes, and goats. Later, the concept of a milk-like food from soybeans was introduced to Europe in the beginning of the century, which started as a small-scale industrial production of ‘artificial milk’, with limited commercial success. In early 1930s, it was re-introduced in China, which now became a billion-dollar industry that spans continents, feeds millions of livestock, and mostly unbeknown to us, has become a major part of our diets. The main reason for the increasing popularity of soy milk is health concerns, such as inflammatory bowel disease and lactose intolerance.
The milk from a cow contains all the essential amino acids as well as a complex mixture of fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals including calcium, phosphate and vitamin B12. As the nutritional needs of plants are quite different from those of animals, the nutritional profile of unadulterated soy milk is very different from that of animal milks. Fresh soy milk, made from grinding and straining soaked dried soy beans, has less fat and carbohydrate than animal milks, and only a small amount of calcium. Soy protein has a protective effect on heart health due to its content of phytochemicals like phytoestrogens, whose weak estrogen-like action can help in soothing hormonal swings during menopause. The type of fat in full-cream cow’s milk is butterfat which is high in saturated fat, while that in soybean is mostly polyunsaturated. The fats added to soy milk are usually canola or sunflower oil, that are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. This means that soy milk is a source of “good” fats.
While soymilk remains the most well-known soy product, consumers are also aware of other soy products like tofu, soy nuts, soy protein bars, cereal and energy bars, soy yogurt, and soy breakfast cereals. Consumers are now seeking Protein beverages for basic nutrients, such as protein and fiber. While the beverage market is still considered an underdeveloped one for soy, there is already a high level of product activity like that of Coca-Cola subsidiary ‘Odwalla’, that expanded the flavor options for its Super Protein and Protein Monster soy and dairy protein drinks.
India, U.S., Brazil, China and Argentina are major producers in the soy market. Increased health awareness among individuals as soy has relatively less calories and various health benefits and increased incidence of lactose intolerance which is making them consume soy products instead dairy products are the main market drivers of Soy product market. Also, the low price of soy products is an important reason that is attracting more customers. Increased demand from China along with competition from Brazil are keeping scientists and farmers focused on how to maximize their yields. A recent breakthrough in soybean science by plant scientist Melissa Mitchum at the University of Missouri is based on identification of soybean genes for resistance to soybean cyst nematode.
Therefore, with the need for protein throughout the world which is ever increasing, scientists are working immensely in improving the yields and putting more protein into the world market.