Health Benefits of Soy Milk

Soy milk is a well-known dairy milk replacement, but it’s not just a substitute ingredient. Soy milk can be a worthwhile addition to your diet on its own. This healthy, flavorful beverage first came about as a waste product on the way to making tofu. Today, soy milk can be found around the country as a lactose-free dairy substitute with health benefits that are all its own. 

Health Benefits

The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in soy milk can provide important health benefits. For example, the forms of vitamin B found in soy milk are important for helping your body maintain your nerve cells and DNA. They can also help you avoid certain forms of anemia, which can prevent tiredness and fatigue. 

Soy milk is also high in protein. The protein in soy milk is healthy, plant-based, and can help support healthy muscles and organs.

In addition, soy milks can provide other health benefits like:

Brain Health

Soy milk is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are “healthy” fats that your body cannot form on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids are linked to a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Soy milk is still being studied for its effect on these diseases, but soy in general is one of the best non-animal sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Improved Heart Health

Soy milk can also help support your cardiovascular system. Soy milk is an excellent source of potassium, whether or not it has been fortified. Potassium is deeply connected to maintaining lower blood pressure and a regular pulse. Furthermore, soy milk has been linked to lower cholesterol levels, especially in people who have high cholesterol.

Reduced Symptoms of Menopause

Soy milk contains isoflavones, which are a class of chemical known as “phytoestrogens.” These isoflavones react in the body like a weak form of estrogen. Because of that, studies have shown that consuming soy milk and other soy products might help reduce the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes.

Nutrition

Most soy milk found in supermarkets and health food stores is fortified with added nutrients. This makes fortified soy milk a great source of calcium, which is the most common mineral in your body. Consuming enough calcium can help strengthen your bones and reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

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Soy milk is also an excellent source of:

Nutrients per Serving

A one-cup serving of soy milk contains:

Things to Watch Out For

While isoflavones can help reduce symptoms of menopause, they may also have negative effects. More research is needed, but some studies point towards isoflavones being linked to reduced thyroid function. These isoflavones may affect how your body produces thyroid hormones. However, these studies are still inconclusive and need further support. As long as you consume enough iodine in your daily diet, there are no signs that drinking soy milk will significantly affect your thyroid function.

Anyone with an allergy to soy products should avoid drinking soy milk. Soy milk used in recipes can also trigger allergic reactions, so it’s best to avoid soy milk entirely if a member of your household has soy allergies.

How to Add Soy Milk to Your Diet

Soy milk can be found in grocery stores, health food stores, and restaurants around the country. You can also make soy milk at home. 

Soak ten ounces of soybeans in water overnight. Then boil these beans in twelve cups of water for ten minutes. Blend the water and soybeans together until smooth, then simmer for another forty minutes. If you like, you can add a pinch of salt or sugar to taste. When you finish simmering the soybeans, strain the mixture through cheesecloth to remove solids. You can store the soymilk for up to a week — about as long as dairy milk lasts.

Here are some ways you can include soy milk in your diet:

  • Add soy milk to a smoothie
  • Use soy milk in your coffee
  • Eat cereal with soy milk
  • Use soy milk in baked goods
  • Make a bechamel sauce with soy milk
  • Use soy milk in curry
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on September 22, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Acute Cardiac Care: “The heart and potassium: a banana republic.”

British Journal of Nutrition: “Soya products and serum lipids: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

FoodData Central: “Soy Milk.”

Human Reproduction Update: “Effects of soy protein and isoflavones on circulating hormone concentrations in pre- and post-menopausal women: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: “The natural history of soy allergy.”

National Institutes of Health: “Calcium.”

National Institutes of Health: “Omega-3 Fatty Acids.”

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin B12.”

Nutrients: “Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature.”

Serious Eats: “A Brief History of Soy Milk.”

Thyroid: “Effects of soy protein and soybean isoflavones on thyroid function in healthy adults and hypothyroid patients: a review of the relevant literature.”

Woks of Life: “How to Make Soy Milk at Home.”

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