Rising soy milk consumption is "not surprising," the Washington Post has reported, because "studies have shown that soy may have a positive effect on everything from menopausal symptoms to cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease."
Soy milk has "taken off ", the newspaper said, with sales in the United States growing from $l.5 million in l980 to nearly $550 million in 2001.
In a lead article in its weekly Food section, the newspaper pointed out the increase in soy food use started in 1999 when "the federal government began permitting the labels of soy-based foods containing at least 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving to state that the product may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Soy milk producers have been "quick to start using this health claim," the Washington Post article said, "as most soy milks contain at least that amount of soy protein in an eight-ounce serving."
While consumers are turning to soy milk for its "positive effects," the article reported, other audiences including vegetarians and those suffering from lactose intolerance also are using soy as a replacement for dairy products. From 30 million to 50 million Americans are believed to be unable to digest lactose, a sugar in dairy milk.
The article noted that isoflavones, found in soy protein, are reported to provide "beneficial effects," particularly to women experiencing symptoms of menopause.