Can Diabetics Drink Soy Milk?

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If you have diabetes, you need to be careful about what you eat to keep your blood glucose levels under control and to reduce your risk of diabetes-related complications. Soy milk, particularly unsweetened soy milk, can be a healthy part of a diabetic's diet. As with all foods, moderation is key.

Soy Milk Benefits

Milk and dairy products are an important part of a diabetes diet. If you have diabetes and are lactose intolerant, soy milk provides a lactose-free alternative to dairy. Soy milk add protein to the diet, and many brands are fortified with calcium and vitamins to help them mimic the nutritional content of milk. Soy milk is low in fat, which can help diabetics avoid atherosclerosis.

Soy Milk and Carbohydrates

Diabetics need to keep an eye on the number of carbohydrates they consume, because carbohydrates have a short-term effect on blood glucose levels. The carbohydrates in a serving of soy milk can vary between different brands, even those made by the same company. For example, according to the Silk Soymilk website, one serving of their chocolate soy milk contains 23 g of carbohydrates, while the plain flavor contains 8 g. If you have diabetes, consume flavors and brands that have fewer carbohydrates.

Soy and Cholesterol

Consuming foods with soy protein also can affect your cholesterol levels. If you consume 50 g of soy protein each day, you can lower your LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, by 3 percent. On the other hand, 50 g of soy protein is the amount in eight cups of soy milk -- probably more than most people would drink. Still, soy protein can be an important part of reducing your risk of cardiovascular problems, which is a major concern for diabetics.

Considerations

The American Diabetes Association notes that unflavored soy milk is one of the best food items in the dairy or dairy substitute category. On the other hand, you should only consume soy milk in moderation. Two to three servings of soy milk each day should be sufficient for most people. Although soy milk can be an important part of a diabetes diet, consuming too much can add excessive protein and carbohydrates.

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