Soy-based ice cream is a vegan-friendly, nondairy frozen dessert option. When it is properly formulated, ice cream made from soy milk can equal the taste of high-quality premium dairy-based ice creams, according to Soya Dairy. While not a health food, soy ice cream is generally lower in saturated fat than regular, dairy-based ice cream.
Soy milk ice cream was first introduced to the U.S. market in 1976 by The Farm Food Company in California and Snow Flower Frozen Desserts in New York, according to the Soy Info Center. The Farm Food Company called their product Soy Ice Bean. The company offered six flavors by 1979. By 1981, other soy food companies began making soy milk ice cream. Turtle Mountain, Tofutti Brands Inc. and Imagine Foods are the top companies making soy milk ice in The U.S. As of 2009, U.S. retail sales for nondairy desserts was $80 million.
Soy ice cream contains the same ingredients used in traditional ice cream except for additional oils and emulsifiers to give it the same mouth feel as commercial ice cream, according to Soya Foods. Soy milk lacks the saturated fat found in whole cow's milk and dairy cream.
Basic Nutrition Values
Premium soy milk ice cream is not low in total fat because it contains oils to give it a creamy, rich texture. Depending on the flavor, a 1/2-cup serving of soy ice cream may have 170 to 220 calories, 2 g to 3 g of protein, 7 g to 11 g of fat, 0.5 g to 3 g of saturated fat, 25 g to 36 g of carbohydrates, 16 g to 20 g of sugars, 2 g to 5 g of dietary fiber and 85 mg to 115 mg of sodium. When compared to premium regular ice cream, soy milk ice cream is typically lower in calories, total and saturated fat, sugars and sodium but higher in dietary fiber.
Unless it is a low-fat, snack sized or light item, a soy milk ice cream sandwich may offer as many calories and fat as a traditional ice cream sandwich. For example, one standard-sized 75 g soy vanilla ice cream sandwich has 265 calories, 3 g of protein, 14 g of fat, 6 g of saturated fat, 32 g of carbohydrates, 18 g of sugars, 2 g of dietary fiber and 130 mg of sodium, according to the Coheso website. On the contrary, a smaller vanilla sandwich made with light soy milk ice cream has 90 to 140 calories, 1 g to 2 g of protein, 3 g to 6 g of fat, 0 g to 1 g of saturated fat, 16 g to 20 g of carbohydrates, 9 g to 12 g of sugars and 110 mg to 130 mg of sodium.
Soy milk ice cream provides an alternative for individuals who cannot or do not wish to consume dairy products. However, soy ice cream not a health food despite having low sodium and saturated fat content. Soy milk ice cream is not high in any vitamins or minerals. This is particularly true for the soy frozen novelties. Like regular dairy ice cream products, there are light and low fat options which have fewer calories, such as ice pops. As with any "fun" food that is high in calories, fat and sugars, but low in nutrients, enjoy soy ice cream as an occasional treat.