a glass of soy milk

Soy Milk: Nutrition Information and Top Brands

Soy milk is available at any grocery, and delivers big advantages over cows’ milk. The dairy industry’s reliance on factory farming gives rise to all sorts of animal welfare problems. And even the best-treated cows go to slaughter as their milk yields decline with age.

Health Benefits of Soy Milk

Soy milk contains far less artery-clogging saturated fat than does cows’ milk.  You can purchase soy milk in refrigerated milk cartons or in aseptic shelf-stable boxes.

Either way, soy milk offers a fantastic source of protein. A typical brand delivers a whopping seven grams of protein per cup, compared to just one gram for most rice or almond milks, and zero grams for coconut milk.

Don’t believe dairy industry propaganda that its product offers a uniquely good source of calcium. Many soy milk brands are calcium fortified, and contain even more calcium per serving than cows’ milk.

Top Brands:

You’ll find cartons of soy milk in the refrigerated dairy case alongside cows’ milk. It’s also sold in shelf-stable aseptic boxes. If buying the latter, refrigerate and use within a week after opening.

Here are some leading brands:

You can cut your sugar intake dramatically by choosing an unsweetened variety. I drank the regular stuff for years, but one day I tried the unsweetened kind and I quickly grew to prefer its pleasant, nutty flavor.

Making Soy Milk from Scratch

What about homemade soy milk? You can certainly make your own—and very cheaply at that—but you might not like the results.

The problem is that the first step of making soy milk involves boiling the soybeans until they’re properly cooked. In the process, some of the soy protein denatures. This denatured protein imparts an unusual flavor to the milk that, to put it kindly, is an acquired taste. Throughout Asia, homemade soy milk has been widely consumed for centuries. Anyone who grew up drinking it is accustomed to the flavor, but adults unfamiliar with traditional soy milk rarely find it appealing. Soy milk companies own expensive equipment, unavailable for home use, that removes these denatured proteins. This yields a product that practically everybody finds delicious.

It’s not that you shouldn’t try making soy milk—only that you shouldn’t expect your homemade soy milk to taste anything like the leading brands sold in grocery stores. So before you rush out to buy an electric soy milk maker, sample the traditional Asian-style stuff. Most Asian groceries sell it locally made, unsweetened, and packaged in plastic gallon-sized jugs. It tastes nothing like mass-market brands. If you don’t like the flavor, you probably won’t enjoy your homemade version either.

For further reading, please see our Dairy-Free Guide. Also visit our coverage of vegan milks, almond milk, and coconut milk.
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