Which Soy Drink?
~ December 2002 No.159 ~
The baby boomer phenomenon is the topic of many books in terms of its impact on health care costs , music trends, fashions, pension plans, and many other facets of everyday life. Food manufacturers have not ignored this population and many companies have developed, or are developing, specific product lines aimed at this very large sector in the North American market. The more enlightened the food manufacturers have realized that the female sector of this group has specific needs and requirements. For this reason we are finding more and more products directed towards menopausal women
It is generally believed women who consume large quantities of soy based foods – for example those who live in the orient- suffer less during menopause. Added to this anecdotal evidence are scientific studies that are now showing the benefits of consuming soy products. As yet there is no consensus among researchers and medical doctors.
Soybeans contain compounds called isoflavones and it is the isoflavones that have been identified as the active ingredient which may reduce the symptoms of menopause because of their oestrogen-like properties. Genistein and daidzein are two isoflavones found in soybeans. These, along with other isoflavones found in soybean, may relieve the symptoms of menopause, although at this time it is not possible to identify which is the active ingredient.
When menopausal women start looking for new soy-based foods which they can add to their diet, soy milk (or more correctly soy drink) is often one of the products that ends up in their shopping cart. But what is the best buy? Soy drink labels do not contain information about isoflavone levels and so the best guide to focus on is the amount of soy protein in the drink. Nutrient levels on labels are often expressed as x grams of protein per portion. When the portion size is the same, the product with the highest soy protein is (probably) the one that will be giving you the highest amount of isoflavones. Manufacturing methods may affect isoflavone level, but for now, the protein level for the soy drink is the best way of choosing the soy drink with the highest isoflavone levels.
Menopausal women are looking for products that may help them reduce their symptoms and it is evident from the number of soy drinks available in supermarkets that food manufacturers are responding to the customer’ demands.