Soy milk is made by combining dried soybeans with water, resulting in a similar nutritional content to that of regular cow's milk. The American Heart Association recommends eating two to three servings of dairy each day for optimum health benefits and cites soy milk as a good low-fat option. Because soy milk lacks any kind of dairy product, those who are lactose intolerant or who suffer from milk allergies can consume it safely. It is also a good choice for vegetarian and vegan diets.
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Calories, Carbohydrates and Protein
Each 8 oz. serving of soy milk provides 100 calories, 8 g of carbohydrate and 7 g of protein. Soy milk and cow's milk have comparable nutritional information for these three categories. Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. Depending on a person's age, weight and activity level, 300 g of carbohydrate would be an approximate daily average intake. Protein is what the body uses to build and maintain cells, including muscles. The Food Pyramid recommends two to three servings of protein per day. An 8 oz. glass of soy milk would be considered one serving of protein.
An 8 oz. serving of soy milk contains 4 g of fat. Soy milk contains 0.5 g saturated fat, no trans fats and no cholesterol, making it a good choice for diets limiting unhealthy fats. While eating foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol have been proven to help maintain a healthy lifestyle, soy alone may not lower cholesterol levels. While some studies have concluded that soy proteins are capable of reducing cholesterol, the Stanford School of Medicine has conducted studies concluding that drinking three glasses of soy milk each day will only produce a clinically insignificant amount of cholesterol reduction.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Per serving, soy milk includes 0.510 mg of riboflavin, which is more than a third of the USDA's recommended 1.3 mg. Riboflavins, like B-Vitamins, assist in changing the food that people eat into energy for the body to use. It also acts as an antioxidant, preventing damage to human cells. Soy milk also contains 299 mg of calcium per serving, where the daily recommendation is about 1,000 mg. Soy milk also contains 119 IU of Vitamin D, which is more than half of the daily recommendation. Vitamin D protects against cancer, stroke, heart disease, depression and more.
An 8 oz. serving of soy milk contains 1.2 g of sugar in the form of sucrose. Sugar contains calories, but no vitamins or minerals. Avoiding sugar improves health by assisting in maintaining a healthy weight. Soy milk contains a low amount of sugar.
Possible Health Benefits
According to experts from Soy Nutrition, studies show that diets high in soy protein consumption have significantly reduced the risks of certain types of cancer, as well as menopausal problems. It is cautioned that only products containing whole soy are applicable to these improved health claims.
- Soy Nutrition: Health Benefits of Soy
- USDA: Nutrient Database
- American Heart Association: How Do I Follow a Healthy Diet?
- Stanford School of Medicine: Effect of Two Types of Soy Milk and Dairy Milk On Plasma Lipids in Hypercholesterolemic Adults
- Diet.com: Soy, Protein and Carbohydrate
- U.S. News Health: How Much Vitamin D Should You be Taking?