Product related

Do the phytates present in soya affect the absorption of nutrients ?

Since soya foods often replace meat and dairy in the diet, understanding the impact of consuming soya on minerals such as calcium status is imperative. For this reason there have been numerous studies looking at this for over 70 years. Although soya beans, like other legumes, are high in oxalate and phytic acid (also known as antinutrients) , two components that strongly inhibit calcium bioavailability, recent studies have shown that the absorption of calcium from calcium fortified soya foods is excellent.
Due to Alpro’s production process, the actual concentration of phytate in the soya products is very low (0.05 to 0.09%) therefore phytate is unlikely to be a major inhibitor of calcium absorption in fortified soya products. The Alpro soya milk alternatives have also been fortified with calcium at a level comparable to dairy milk (120mg/100 ml). 

What is Alpro free from ?

Detailed information can be found in our ingredient lists.
All Alpro products are dairy free and naturally lactose free as you would expect for plant-based products. The majority of the products are also wheat free and gluten free (again, check the ingredient list), but if the product is gluten free, it will be explicitly mentioned on the pack. We work closely with Coeliac UK which substantiates that most of our products are suitable for consumers on gluten or wheat free diets.
Allergen labelling rules will be changing in December 2014: the depiction of allergens will be emphasised on packaging. At Alpro, we have already started changing over to the new rules. During this transition period you will continue to see old and new labels on our products. Both are legally compliant. From the end of December 2014 at the latest, all labels will match the new allergen labelling rules. 

Why do the Alpro plant-based variations on yogurts mention 'may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts'?

Alpro is currently preparing all the necessary quality steps to integrate the production of products containing hazelnuts and almonds by the end of 2014. All possible measures to avoid any cross-contamination will be implemented. As Alpro is currently building further expertise in allergen management for the plant-based alternatives to yogurt, the claim “may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts” will only be removed if validation of the production lines confirms there is no risk for cross-contamination

Why has the claim 'may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts' on the packaging of soy, rice and oat drinks, plant-based cream and desserts been removed ?

One year ago, Alpro decided to label all its plant based products with a ‘may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts’ claim. This was to give consumers advance warning of the integration of products containing almonds or hazelnuts into its production facilities. Alpro is pleased to inform consumers that it will be gradually removing the ‘may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts’ claim from its soy, rice and oat drinks, plant-based variation to creams and desserts. As part of a major investment program in its facilities, Alpro will arrange its existing production lines to be dedicated to producing soy, rice and oat drinks or almond, hazelnut and coconut drinks. Any avoidable risk of cross contamination is therefore removed which means that for the product groups of soy, rice and oat drinks, plant-based variation to creams and desserts the warning can be removed.


Can soya form part of a healthy diet ?

Soya alternatives to milk and yogurts enriched with calcium and B vitamins can form part of a healthy balanced diet. The soya protein has a high biological value. Choose soya products which have been enriched with 120mg calcium per 100ml/g to help meet daily calcium requirements. Soya products are very versatile and can be used in lots of recipes. The organic drinks and desserts are not enriched with calcium and B vitamins because of legal limitations. 

Is the calcium which has been used to fortify soya products bioavailable ?

A very recent study of Zhao et al. showed that the calcium bioavailability of calcium enriched soya milk is comparable to that of cow’s milk. The study showed that a daily consumption of three portions of milk products (approx. 710 ml) provides 855 mg of calcium and 186mg of absorbable calcium. If one consumes the same amount of calcium-fortified soya milk, this results in a total of 1,104 mg of calcium, of which 200 to 233 mg are absorbed by the body.

Does soya interfere with children’s growth and development ?

To date, there is no human data showing that consumption of soya foods interferes with normal growth and development. All data in children, show completely normal growth and development compared to children who were fed infant formula based on cows’ milk.
Soya foods have been used for thousands of years in Asia. In Asia, several diseases (e.g. prostate and breast cancer) occur with a much lower prevalence than in the Western world and research indicates that soya could be an important protective factor, especially when introduced in the early years of life.
In Western countries, individuals consuming soya foods for more than 40 years and starting at a very young age, have normal development and growth. 
In the USA, in 2006, an independent panel of 14 scientists convened by the Centre for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR), of the NIEHS and National Toxicology Program, reviewed scientific data and reached conclusions regarding whether or not exposure to genistein (one of the phytoestrogens present in soya) or soya infant formula could be hazardous to human development or reproduction. They expressed a negligible concern for a potential theoretical adverse effect from exposure to genistein and soya infant formula.
To date, there is no human evidence showing a negative effect on the development of children and soya foods can be safely integrated into an everyday healthy balanced diet.

What is the isoflavone content of soya?

The soya bean is unique since it contains the highest amount of isoflavones. The isoflavones in soya are of 3 types: genistein, daidzein and glycetein.
The isoflavone content in the soya bean varieties range from 1.2-3.8 mg/g seed depending on the variety, growing conditions and planting season.
In Asia, where the intake of soya products (rich in isoflavones=phytoestrogens) is relatively high, the incidence of so-called ‘Western’ diseases, such as breast, endometrium, colon and prostate cancer is very low.
A lot of studies are at present being conducted to clarify the effects of isoflavones on health. 

Can you recommend soya in a cholesterol-lowering diet?

Soya foods nutritional profile of being low in saturated fat and providing unsaturated fatty acids, fits perfectly with national heart healthy advice to lower our saturated fat intake and optimise unsaturated fat intakes. Despite EFSA in 2011 not approving a specific claim that soya protein lowers cholesterol, the research is ongoing and HEART UK (UK’s cholesterol charity and the National Cholesterol Education Programme in the US) support consumption of soya foods for cholesterol-lowering. Consumption of soya foods has been repeatedly shown to help lower “bad”/Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood via two possible mechanisms:
a) Soya protein specifically is thought to have a direct effect on the liver, where it interferes with cholesterol metabolism.
b) Soya is naturally low in saturated fat and consumption of soya foods often displaces higher saturated fat foods in the diet including full fat dairy products and fatty meat. This replacement of saturated with unsaturated fats is known to actively lower “bad’ (LDL) cholesterol.
These combined benefits can lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol by as much as 10.3% at dietary intakes from 15g soya protein per day, which equates to two glasses of soya alternative to milk or 100g soya mince. 

Can soya products be used as ingredients in recipes?

Yes, soya alternatives to milk, just like cow's milk can be used and heated in all kinds of recipes.
Use the unsweetened soya alternative to milk, the flavour is more neutral to use as an ingredient for sauces.
The soya alternative to single cream can be used in all kinds of recipes just like single dairycream.

Can children consume soya products?

Yes, soya products can form part of a healthy balanced diet for children from the age of 6 months.
Soya dairy free alternatives to milk should not be given to children under 1 years of age as a main milk source as they do not meet the infant's special needs as regards to energy, minerals and vitamins. Alpro Junior one plus alternative to milk has been nutritionally formulated for children from 1 years of age. It is suitable as a main drink from 1 years of age, and can be part of a weaning diet from 6 months.

What's the difference between cow's milk and soya alternative to milk?

Soya products are made from soya beans. Soya products made with the whole soya bean go through a natural production process and retain all the nutritional advantages of soya.

  • soya protein with high biological value
  • naturally low in saturated fat
  • contain isoflavones
  • contains omega 3 & 6 fatty acids
  • hypocholesteralaemic effect of soya protein 

Bone health

In the case of osteoporosis, an adequate calcium intake is necessary. If you replace cow's milk and cow's milk products e.g yogurt and dairy desserts with dairy free alternatives it is important to ensure they are replaced with soya alternatives enriched with calcium. Isoflavones also have a bone-sparing effect, as was illustrated by many studies researching the menopause. When buying soya products, choose calcium enriched soya products. Alternatively other plant based milks such as almond, rice or hazelnut drinks which have been enriched with calcium are suitable.

Soya and cow's milk protein allergy and lactose intolerance.

Alpro Soya products are made from soya beans, they are 100% plant based and do not contain cow's milk protein.
Being dairy free they are suitable for people we need to avoid cow’s milk protein or who are lactose intolerant.

Are soya isoflavones (plant oestrogens) safe to consume

Soya is the main dietary source of isoflavones. Isoflavones belong to the family of plant phytoestrogens, which are often misconstrued as ‘oestrogens’. Isoflavones have a similar but not identical chemical structure to human oestrogen. Although they have some similarities in the way they behave in the human body, their strength is 10s of 1,000’s of times weaker than the oestrogen. Overall, isoflavones are thought to have beneficial effects on specific body organs such the breast, heart, bone and prostate by either promoting or inhibiting human oestrogen activity. 
Soya foods and ingredients are permitted for use in the UK under the provisions of the Food Safety Act. Their safety has been extensively confirmed by a number of major bodies including the UK Committee on Toxicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment (COT) and the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Are soya products suitable for people with diabetes

Response : Advice for those with diabetes, whether they are on diet only, oral medication or on insulin regimen is to reduce the amount of sugar in the diet, and follow healthy eating advice advocated for the majority of the population. The majority of Alpro products are suitable for people with diabetes, products such as the chocolate desserts and milkshakes will have more sugar – patients are advised to consult with their Dietitian to see if these types of products are suitable for their individual diet.

Is soya safe for women who have had breast cancer?

In 2012, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) reported no indication that consumption of soya food was unsuitable for those either at risk of breast cancer, breast cancer patients or for survivors of breast cancer. Countries with high soya intakes have significantly lower rates of certain types of cancer including breast, stomach and prostate. Some studies suggest that lifelong soya consumption and exposure to isoflavones especially before and during puberty may protect against the development of breast cancer. The latest review of the evidence clearly demonstrates no effect of soya isoflavones on breast tissue density or breast cell proliferation (markers for increased breast cancer risk). In addition reviews on large studies using over 9,000 breast cancer survivors, conclude that soya consumption is not associated with any increased risk of recurrence of breast cancer and that in some cases, soya consumption may lower the risk of re-occurrence.

Soya and thyroid function

Concerns about the anti-thyroid effects of soya are based mainly on animal and test-tube studies. As highlighted previously these sorts of studies need to be interpreted with caution before conclusions can be made to humans. In fact, a recent review of 14 clinical studies concluded that there is little evidence that soya foods or isoflavones adversely affect thyroid function in healthy men or women (Messina 2006). Even studies using individuals already suffering from an underactive thyroid which demonstrated a potential of isoflavones to exacerbate the condition, do not suggest the need to avoid soya foods or isoflavones, but rather their thyroxine levels (measure of thyroid gland activity) to be monitored and thyroid hormone dosage adjusted as needed.