Soy Milk: What Is It and Is It Healthy?

If you’ve taken a stroll down the dairy aisle lately, you may have noticed a change in the types and number of products available. Between almond, coconut, soy and regular cow’s milk, we have a lot of decisions to make about beverages. However, one of the most popular and oldest options in the cooler aisle is soy milk.

To learn more about the health and nutritional value of this beverage, we reached out to Dr. Connie Weaver, distinguished professor emeritus of the department of Nutritional Sciences at Perdue University.

Is there a difference between soy milk and a soy beverage?

Dr. Weaver: “Only the name. Some really object to calling a plant-based beverage milk because the standard of identity is for cow’s milk.”

What is soy milk made out of?

Dr. Weaver: “Whole soybeans are boiled with a lot of water to extract soluble constituents like protein and minerals and that is the soy milk or beverage.”

According to Dr. Weaver, the nutrients in soy milk include:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Additional chemical constituents

What are the main health benefits of soy milk?

Dr. Weaver: “It is a source of high-quality protein. The most common brand is Silk. We determined calcium bioavailability from Silk and found it to be comparable to cow’s milk. Soy beverage is the only plant-based beverage that has been studied for calcium bioavailability. Soy consumption in general has been associated with some ability to reduce menopausal symptoms but the evidence for preventing chronic diseases was deemed too weak to make recommendations by the North American Menopause Society.”

So, we’ve learned about the benefits, but are there any health concerns to drinking soy milk?

Dr. Weaver: “Soy beverage has the most similar nutrient profile of the plant-based beverages compared with cow’s milk. It has lower potassium content than milk. But it is more expensive than cow’s milk.”

Regarding taste, Dr. Weaver states that soy milk is an acquired taste for people who may be accustomed to drinking cow’s milk. If you are looking at options, she recommends trying any brand as she does not personally notice any difference between them.

So, when it comes to choosing products in the cooler aisle. Your preference has a lot at play. But if you’re looking to try something new, soy milk is a healthy and viable option to try.