Soy Milk: Nutrition Facts, Best Brands and More

Soy milk is packed with protein that can help you burn fat and build muscle. This healthy plant-based beverage also has the goods to lower your cholesterol levels and your blood pressure.

SUMMARY

Soy milk may be just what you’re looking for if you’re seeking a plant-based beverage that’s nourishing and high in protein. This vegan-friendly drink can improve heart health, and it helps build strong muscles.

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Soy milk offers many of the benefits of cow’s milk, with none of the cholesterol.  

This plant-based milk is loaded with protein. Though it’s seen its share of controversy, studies show that soy milk is undeniably good for your health. 

Since it’s entirely plant-based, this drink is a great choice if you’re on a vegan diet. Unsweetened soy milk is low in carbs, so it’s good match if you’re on a keto or low-carb eating plan. Finally, its high protein content makes soy milk a wonderful beverage for those who are seeking to lose weight or build muscle via a high-protein diet. 

There are many good things about soy milk, and they’re worth exploring. Keep reading if you want to:

  • Learn what soy milk is and how it’s made
  • Get the facts on soy milk nutrition
  • Learn how to make soy milk at home
  • Get the scoop on whether soy beverages contain GMOs
  • Find out about five popular brands of store-bought soy milk, and learn where you can buy them
  • Learn if soy beverages are safe to drink
  • Gain insight into the health benefits of soy milk
  • Access yummy recipes that include soy-based milk as an ingredient

What is soy milk?

Soy milk is a plant-based beverage that’s also referred to as soya milk or soymilk. It’s often made from soybeans and filtered water; instead of soybeans, full-fat soy flour is sometimes used. To create this drink, soybeans are typically soaked, grinded and added to filtered water. The mixture is boiled, and it’s then strained to remove particulates.   

Since this mixture can sometimes be on the thin side, thickeners are often added to give commercial soy milk a creamier consistency. Flavor extracts and sweeteners may also be added to improve the taste of this beverage. 

This drink’s origins lie in China. It’s a natural by-product of tofu, a food that’s been consumed in that part of the world for centuries. Its popularity in Europe and North America grew in the last part of the 20th century. 

Today, soy milk is a popular choice for those seeking a plant-based alternative to dairy milk. Soy milk is the second best-selling plant milk on the market. It’s second only to almond milk on the sales charts. 

Soy milk nutrition

The most important thing to know about soy milk nutrition is that this beverage is high in protein. Among all plant-based milks, it’s the choice that’s most similar to dairy milk when it comes to protein content. This soy beverage has almost as much protein as cow’s milk, and it has a lot more protein than almond milk and oat milk.  

According to information gathered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 16-ounce glass of unsweetened soy milk (486 grams) contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories – 160
  • Total fat – 8 grams
  • Saturated fat – 1 gram
  • Trans fat – 0 gram
  • Cholesterol – 0 mg
  • Sodium – 170.1 mg
  • Total carbohydrates – 8 grams
  • Dietary fiber – 1.9 grams
  • Total sugars – 2 grams
  • Protein – 14 grams
  • Iron – 2.1 mg
  • Calcium – 597.8 mg
  • Potassium – 597.8 mg

Here’s what a 16-ounce glass of soy milk’s macronutrient content looks like when broken down as a percentage of the daily value (DV) of these nutrients you should aim to eat every day:

  • Calories – 8 percent DV 
  • Fat – 12 percent DV
  • Saturated fats – 5 percent DV
  • Cholesterol – 0 percent DV
  • Carbohydrates – 3 percent DV
  • Fiber – 8 percent DV
  • Sugars – 4 percent DV
  • Protein – 28 percent DV

How to make soy milk

You can make soy milk in the comfort of your own kitchen. 

The benefit of taking this approach is that you have total control over the ingredients used. If there are certain flavor extracts or sweeteners that you’d like to add to your homemade soy milk – or certain ones that you’d like to explicitly omit – you have the power to do so.

Of course, the drawback here is that making this soy beverage yourself takes a certain amount of time and effort. 

You need just two ingredients to create homemade soy milk: yellow soybeans and filtered water. The beans need to be soaked overnight before you get started. It takes about 35 minutes or so to complete this recipe, excluding the soak time. 

In addition to the ingredients, you’ll need a blender, as well as a nut milk bag for straining. If you don’t have a nut milk bag, you can substitute a cheesecloth or a mesh strainer. 

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried yellow soybeans
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional) 
  • ½ teaspoon powdered stevia (optional) 
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Soak the soybeans in water for roughly 12 hours. Beans contain a substance called phytic acid that hinders digestibility. Soaking reduces the phytic acid content, making soybeans more healthful and easier to digest. 
  2. Drain the soybeans. You can then remove the outer skin, but this step is entirely optional. Removing the skin may improve the texture of your soy beverage. 
  3. Add the soybeans to a blender, along with 3 cups of water. Blend the mixture until it has a smooth, consistent texture. 
  4. Run the soy beverage through your nut milk bag, cheesecloth or strainer. This will remove particulates and leave you with a drink that’s creamy and evenly textured. 
  5. Pour the mixture into a pot, adding 1 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Cook the soy milk over low heat, stirring every now and then. Cooking is necessary, since it helps to further reduce the phytic acid content present in soybeans. Allow the mixture to simmer in this way for five to 10 minutes, or until the soy beverage reduces to your preferred consistency. The longer you let it simmer, the thicker the consistency will be. 
  7. Allow the soy beverage to cool, then add optional ingredients such as vanilla extract, powdered stevia or cinnamon. Stir the mixture to evenly distribute these ingredients. 

Store your fresh soy milk in the fridge, using a sealed container. It will keep for three to five days. 

Does soy milk contain GMOs?

Most of the world’s soybean crop is genetically modified.

However, if you want to purchase soy products that are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), there’s a simple solution: Buy organic. The use of genetic engineering is prohibited in organic products.

Soy milk brands

If you’d rather not go the DIY route, you have the option of purchasing your soy milk at the grocery store. 

The advantage to taking this approach is convenience. You won’t have to spend time in the kitchen preparing your beverage. 

One drawback is that store-bought soymilk is more expensive than the homemade version. Commercial soy milk may also contain added ingredients that you’d rather avoid. 

Let’s take a look at five best-selling soy milk brands. 

Silk

Silk soy milk is widely viewed as being one of the best soy beverages on the market, whether you’re drinking it alone or using it as a cooking ingredient. It has a creamy richness that makes it very similar to cow’s milk, and it’s both gluten-free and kosher. 

This brand was founded in Colorado back in 1977, with an initial focus on soy and tofu. Today, Silk’s product line includes plant-based creamers, non-dairy yogurt alternatives and plant-based milks made with soy, cashew, coconut and oats. 

Silk soy milk comes in these flavors:

  • Organic Unsweet Soymilk
  • Original Soymilk
  • Organic Unsweet Vanilla Soymilk
  • Vanilla Soymilk
  • Organic Vanilla Soymilk
  • Very Vanilla Soymilk
  • Chocolate Soymilk
  • Light Original Soymilk
  • Soy Nog

Ingredients

This brand’s soy milk contains the following ingredients:

  • Filtered water
  • Soybeans
  • Vitamin and mineral blend made up of tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, riboflavin (B2) and vitamin B12 – this blend adds calcium (derived from limestone), as well as vitamins A, D2, B2 and B12
  • Sea salt
  • Natural flavor – derived from natural sources such as vegetables, spice, fruits, leaves, herbs, bark, edible yeast and buds
  • Gellan gum – vegan thickener used to emulsify and prevent separation
  • Ascorbic acid – preservative

Most flavors also contain cane sugar. However, the brand’s Organic Unsweet Soy Milk and Organic Unsweet Vanilla Soymilk are sugar-free.  

Silk soy milk is made with wholesome ingredients, and the brand offers organic versions of its products. If you want to skip the sugar, be sure to choose one of the flavors with “Unsweet” in its name. 

Where to buy

You can purchase Silk soy milk online via retailers such as Amazon. This brand’s soy products are also available in stores at these retailers:

  • Target
  • Bristol Farms Market
  • Ralphs 
  • Pavilions
  • CVS Pharmacy 
  • Sprouts Farmers Market
  • We Got It Food Mart
  • 7-Eleven
  • Whole Foods
  • Gelsons
  • Rite Aid
  • Walgreens
  • Erewhon Markets
  • Safeway
  • Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
  • Albertsons
  • Sundance Natural Foods
  • Market of Choice
  • Fred Meyer 
  • Publix
  • Winn Dixie
  • Fresco Y Mas
  • Yes Organic
  • Giant
  • Price Rite
  • Dollar General
  • Randalls Food Market
  • Specs Liquor Warehouse
  • Kroger
  • Fiesta Mart
  • H-E-B
  • Duane Reade
  • Gristedes

Yeo’s 

Yeo’s is a brand that is based in China. The company was launched in 1900, and it initially sold just soy sauce. By 1953, this brand had expanded its product line to include soy milk.

In addition to soy milk, Yeo’s sells beverages such as juice and tea, along with a range of chili and curry sauces. 

The brand’s soy milk comes in these flavors:

  • Soy Milk
  • Black Soy Milk
  • Less Sugar Soy Milk
  • Soy Milk Vietnamese Style
  • Unsweetened Soy Milk

Ingredients

Yeo’s soy milk contains these main ingredients:

  • Water 
  • Soybeans

Most flavors also contain cane sugar; the sole exception is the brand’s Unsweetened Soy Milk. Also, certain flavors contain ingredients such as artificial flavors and artificial colors (FD & C Yellow No. 5 and FD &C Blue No. 1). Some flavors also contain carrageenan, an emulsifier. Though carrageenan is generally recognized as safe, a 2017 study shows that it may cause intestinal inflammation. For this reason, many brands choose to exclude this ingredient from their soy products. 

If you want to skip the cane sugar and the potentially harmful ingredients listed above, we’d recommend Yeo’s Unsweetened Soy Milk flavor. That flavor contains just water and soybeans. 

Yeo’s doesn’t offer an organic version of its soy milk.

Where to buy

Yeo’s soy milk is available online via Amazon. You can also find it at these retailers:

  • Kroger
  • Walmart
  • 99 Ranch Market
  • Baker’s 
  • City Market
  • Costco
  • Smith’s Food and Drug Stores
  • Ralphs
  • Pay Less Super Markets
  • Quality Food Centers
  • Gerbes
  • Dillons
  • Foods Co. 
  • Fred Meyer
  • Food 4 Less
  • Fry’s Food Stores
  • Jay C Food Stores
  • King Soopers
  • Owen’s 
  • H Mart
  • Asian Food
  • Yami Buy
  • Sky Foods
  • New York Mart
  • Lotte Market
  • Jet
  • GW Supermarket
  • Good Fortune Supermarket

8th Continent

8th Continent is a brand owned by Stremicks Heritage Foods. Each soy product in this brand’s lineup is kosher and gluten-free, made with beans that are grown right here in the U.S.A. 

The company’s soy milk comes in these flavors:

  • Original
  • Vanilla

Ingredients

You’ll find these ingredients in 8th Continent soy milk:

  • Water
  • Soy protein
  • Soybean oil
  • Calcium phosphate – added to boost calcium content
  • Sugar
  • Potassium citrate – added to preserve freshness
  • Natural and artificial flavors
  • Magnesium phosphate – added boost magnesium content
  • Salt
  • Sodium polyphosphate – emulsifying agent used to keep oil and water mixed together
  • Dipotassium phosphate – emulsifier, texturizer and stabilizer
  • Soy lecithin – emulsifies and protects the flavor of food
  • Carrageenan – used to emulsify and thicken
  • Vitamin D2
  • Xanthan gum – used to thicken and stabilize
  • Vitamin B12
  • Ribloflavin – adds vitamin B2
  • Vitamin A palmitate

As you can see, 8th Continent soy milk has a fairly long ingredient list. It contains artificial flavors, as well as lots of additives used to thicken and emulsify. Also, this soy milk contains carrageenan. As mentioned earlier, carrageenan is generally recognized as being safe, but some studies show it can irritate the stomach. 

If you’re looking for a soy milk made entirely with natural ingredients, 8th Continent won’t be the best brand for you. Also, note that this brand doesn’t offer an organic version of its soy beverage. 

Where to buy

8th Continent soy milk is sold online via Amazon. It’s also available at these grocery stores:

  • Walmart
  • Food City
  • Foods Co. 
  • Bev Mo
  • King Soopers
  • Superlo Foods
  • Ralphs 
  • Food 4 Less
  • Albertsons
  • Vons
  • Foodtown

Westsoy

Westsoy was founded more than 35 years ago in California. The company was acquired by The Hain Celestial Group in 1997. Westsoy offers a diverse selection of soy beverages, and its lineup includes both regular and fortified soy milk.  

The brand’s soy milk comes in these flavors:

  • Organic Original
  • Low Fat Plain
  • Non Fat Plain
  • Organic Unsweetened Plain
  • Low Fat Vanilla
  • Non Fat Vanilla
  • Organic Unsweetened Vanilla
  • Soy Slender Soymilk Capuccino
  • Organic Plus Plain 
  • Soy Slender Soymilk Vanilla
  • Chocolate Peppermint Stick Soymilk
  • Organic Plus Vanilla
  • Soy Slender Soymilk Chocolate

Ingredients

Westsoy soy milk includes these main ingredients:

  • Filtered water
  • Soybeans 

Some flavors also contain sea salt and natural flavors. 

Additionally, rice and barley malt are used in some flavors as a sweetener. One flavor – Chocolate Peppermint Stick Soymilk – is sweetened with evaporated cane syrup. Some of Westsoy’s soy milk flavors are fortified with vitamins and minerals: tricalcium phosphate (calcium), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin A palmitate and vitamin D2. 

The flavors with Soy Slender in their name are aimed at those seeking a reduced-calorie beverage to support weight loss. These flavors contain sucralose (Splenda brand). They also contain carrageenan. Some studies show that carrageenan may irritate your stomach. 

Most of Westsoy’s soy beverages feature wholesome ingredients, and lots of organic options are available. If you want to avoid sweeteners and additives, go with Organic Unsweetened Plain. That flavor includes just filtered water and whole organic soybeans. 

Where to buy

You can purchase Westsoy soy milk online via the brand’s website. These soy beverages also sold at these stores:

  • Ralphs 
  • Bristol Farms Market
  • Sprouts Farmers Market
  • Whole Foods
  • Gelsons
  • Erewhon Markets
  • Lassens Natural Foods and Vitamins
  • Walmart
  • Publix
  • Yes Organic 
  • Safeway
  • Giant
  • TPSS Co-Op
  • Roots Market
  • Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
  • Sundance Natural Foods
  • Market of Choice
  • Fred Meyer
  • Kroger
  • Morton Williams Supermarkets
  • Gristedes                 
  • Lifethyme Natural Market
  • D’Agostino
  • Shoprite
  • Shaws
  • Hannaford

Eden 

Eden was founded in southern Michigan in the late 1960s. It started as a co-op, and it eventually evolved into a natural foods store selling products such as whole grains, beans, soy products and nut butters. In 1972, Eden decided to establish itself as a brand, leveraging its relationships with artisanal food makers. 

Today, the Eden brand’s product range includes foods such as:

  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Cereal
  • Flour
  • Condiments
  • Apple sauce
  • Fruit butter
  • Juice
  • Oil and vinegar
  • Pasta
  • Seeds, nuts and dried fruit
  • Tea
  • Sweeteners
  • Herbs and spices

Of course, the company also makes commercial soy milk. It comes in these flavors:

  • Carob Edensoy, Organic
  • Original Edensoy, Organic
  • Cocoa Edensoy, Organic
  • Original Edensoy Extra, Organic
  • Vanilla Edensoy, Organic
  • Unsweetened Edensoy, Organic
  • Vanilla Edensoy Extra, Organic

Ingredients

Eden soy milk contains these main ingredients:

  • Purified water
  • Organic soybeans

Some flavors contain these ingredients:

  • Naturally malted wheat and barley extract – natural sweetener
  • Vanilla extract
  • Calcium carbonate – adds calcium
  • Kombu seaweed
  • Sea salt
  • Vitamin E
  • Beta carotene
  • Organic carob powder
  • Vitamin D2
  • Organic cocoa powder
  • Vitamin B12
  • Organic maple syrup – sweetener
  • Gellan gum and organic locust bean gum – vegan thickeners

All of Eden’s soy beverages are organic. This is a top brand to consider if you value ingredients that are natural and healthy. If you want to ditch the sweeteners and other additives, choose the Unsweetened Edensoy flavor. It contains just water and soybeans.   

Where to buy

You can purchase Eden soy beverages online at the brand’s website. These products are also sold at the following retail outlets:

  • Whole Foods
  • Bev Mo
  • Ralphs 
  • Walmart
  • Kroger
  • Pick ‘N Save
  • Smith’s Food and Drug
  • Mariano’s
  • Dillons
  • City Market
  • Fry’s Food Stores
  • Fred Meyer
  • Hannaford
  • Food Town
  • 99 Ranch Market
  • Foodland
  • Wegmans Market
  • Phelps Market

Is soy milk safe to drink?

Years ago, soy milk got some bad press after studies were conducted that involved soy isoflavones and rats. A soy isoflavone is a micronutrient that’s found in soy milk and other soy products. The studies showed that when rats consumed high amounts of these isoflavones, they were more likely to develop breast cancer. 

However, since then, the results of those studies have been questioned. For one thing, the rats in those studies were given doses of soy isoflavone that are much larger than humans would ever consume. Secondly, as the American Cancer Society points out, rodents and humans don’t process soy in the same way. This means that a soy study involving rats isn’t likely to offer much meaningful data on how this food affects humans. 

The American Cancer Society reports that research doesn’t indicate any dangers associated with soy consumption. In fact, that organization states that this nourishing food brings health benefits that outweigh any potential risk. 

It’s also worth remembering that a soy-based drink isn’t exactly a new, untested invention. It’s a traditional beverage that’s been consumed in the East for hundreds of years with no ill effects. 

Health benefits of soy milk

Drinking soy milk can benefit your health in the following ways:

Helps build strong muscles

Your muscles need protein to grow and flourish. Soy milk is a good source of plant-based protein. As such, it can help you build muscles that are healthy and strong. 

Supports healthy weight loss

Soy is rich in protein, a nutrient that can suppress the appetite and help the body burn fat more effectively. It’s not surprising, then, that studies show soy consumption can help support healthy weight loss

Helps improve heart health

Soy milk is naturally rich in potassium. This mineral can help bring your blood pressure down to healthy levels, and this will ultimately place less strain on your heart. Also, studies show that soy milk can help reduce harmful LDL cholesterol, especially in those whose levels are high. Again, this has good implications for heart health.

Eases menopause symptoms

The isoflavones contained in soy-based milk are phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are compounds that impact the body in the same way that a weaker form of estrogen would. Because of this, consuming soy milk may help ease menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.

May reduce risk of breast cancer

As mentioned, studies with rats linked soy isoflavones with a higher risk of breast cancer. However, humans and rats process soy in different ways. Studies with humans show that soy isoflavones may actually reduce the risk of breast cancer

Easier to digest than cow’s milk if you’re lactose-intolerant

Cow’s milk contains lactose, a milk sugar. Many people are lactose-intolerant. If you suffer from this condition, ingesting lactose can cause symptoms such as flatulence. 

Since it’s a plant-based milk, soy milk is naturally free of lactose. This makes it easier to digest than cow’s milk if you have an intolerance or sensitivity to lactose. 

Recipes containing soy milk

These mouthwatering recipes use soy milk to add creaminess and flavor:

Cocoa Bundt Cake with Coconut and Soy Milk

A bundt cake is a great dessert choice. This version teams soy milk with ingredients such as eggs and bittersweet chocolate. 

Soy Milk Pancakes with Sweet Lime Curd

Pancakes are always a delicious way to start the day. This lactose-free recipe substitutes a soy beverage for cow’s milk. 

Fast and Easy Fettucine Alfredo

You don’t need cow’s milk to create a creamy pasta sauce. This pasta recipe includes soy milk, garlic powder and olive oil.  

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes are comfort food at its best. This take on the time-honored classic is tasty and filling. 

Next steps

Now that you know all about soy milk’s strengths, head down to your grocery store so you can add this beverage to your kitchen. It works great as a drink or as a substitute for dairy milk in your favorite recipes. 

As mentioned, soy milk is high in protein that can help you build muscle and burn fat. If you want an easy and convenient way to increase your protein intake even further, subscribe to Fresh ‘N Lean. We offer a Protein+ meal plan that includes healthy, high-protein foods, and we deliver straight to your door. 

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