Ah, soy—the most controversial thing since the Heelys craze of 2009. Tofu, tempeh, meat substitutes, and soy milk are gaining traction as people try out veganism or get on board with the #meatlessmonday trend, but it's easy to be nervous about how all of this soy is going to affect our bodies. Some studies claim that eating too much soy causes scary side effects like cancer, heart disease, or hormonal imbalances. Yikes. But don't give up on all soy just yet. According to a recent study at McGill University, soy milk is good for you.

Soy Milk Is the Best Plant-Based Milk

Researchers at McGill University have proven that, nutritionally-speaking, soy milk is the best plant-based milk. The study compared the four most commonly consumed dairy-free alternatives — almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, and coconut milk — and soy milk was the clear winner. This was due to its anti-carcinogenic (aka cancer-preventing) properties, with the only drawbacks of soy milk being the presence of anti-nutrients (aka substances that reduce nutrient intake). Rice milk scored low due to its high carb count, while coconut milk has inadequate protein and nutrients. 

The Benefits of Soy Milk

In the past, soy milk has gotten a bad rap, with claims like soy causes cancer or impairs female fertility. However, many of these rumors have been proven untrue. Research today suggests that a minimal amount of soy (3-5 servings per week) is totally fine—there are actually many proven nutritional benefits.

Soy contains phytoestrogens (specifically, a form called isoflavones), which have been thought to block the effects of excess estrogen in the body. Ideally, that means that eating soy could improve symptoms of PMS and endometriosis. Studies have also shown that soy intake could lower the risk of breast cancer (although studies showed only in Asian women), and aid with fertility in women undergoing in vitro fertilization. So, yeah, soy milk seems pretty good for you.

Of course, just like most things in life, soy should be enjoyed in moderation. Make sure to pick organic, non-GMO forms of soy and stick to eating the minimal amount. If you have any health conditions (like an under active thyroid), you should also speak to a doctor about your soy intake as it could mess with some medications.

Soy Milk vs. Dairy Milk

Alex Frank

Plant-based milk aside, researchers found that cow's milk still provides the most nutritional benefit, as it contains fat, carbs, protein, and has been shown to reduce risk of fever and infection in infants.

There's still a lot of research that needs to be done before we can understand all the effects of soy, but studies like the one conducted at McGill University are proving that there are some serious health benefits to the green bean. So no worries, you can still keep ordering your soy chai lattes. 

#SpoonTip: Want to start incorporating soy into your life? Check out this recipe for tofu scramble or these banana overnight oats soaked in soy milk.