Between almond milk, oat milk, and coconut milk, the dairy game is changing. Soy milk, the original milk alternative, is continuously scrutinized and compared to every type of cow and nut milk under the sun. But, what is soy milk? How is it made? And, is it really better (or worse) than other alternatives? That's where I come in. I took it upon myself to do the heavy research into soy milk to find out everything you need to know about the drink.

How is Soy Milk Made?

Soy milk is created through a pretty extensive process, involving only soybeans and water. Long story short, the soybeans are cooked, ground, and pressed to create the milk beverage you know and love. 

During the milk-making process, the soybeans are split and the hulls are removed. What's left is ground and pressed. According to Silk (the father of soy milk itself), when the beans are pressed, the okara, or the insoluble fiber, is removed. The okara is later used as animal feed — mostly for organic farmers — as it's high in protein. What's left is separated from the liquid, which is raw soy milk. 

Next, various additives are put into the soy milk, including flavorings like almond or vanilla, as well as sugar, minerals and vitamins

Is Soy Milk Good for You?

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Kristine Mahan

Many sources say that soy milk is good for you, but what is soy milk? What are its benefits? Soy milk has less saturated fat and cholesterol than whole milk, more fiber, and ultimately fewer calories. Not to mention, soy milk is high in calcium and iron, and contains nine amino acids, making it a good source of protein. Because it isn’t cow's milk, those who are lactose intolerant can enjoy soy milk without consequence.

While soy milk is most likely better for your body than cow's milk, it also has its drawbacks. Not only do many soy milks contain lots of sugar, but the phytoestrogen (plant-based estrogen) in this milk alternative also can potentially cause estrogen levels in the body to increase and may cause breast cancer. Soy milk has also been shown to be an issue for those with thyroid disease, can cause fertility issues, and can come from GMO plants. 

#SpoonTip: Studies are still being conducted on soy milk and it hasn't been conclusively proven whether it's good or bad for you.

Asian countries have been consuming soy for thousands of years. But unlike soy milk, most soy products – like soy sauce and miso – are fermented first to remove antinutrients (compounds that disrupt the absorption of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients), and are generally consumed in small amounts. These health concerns are not to say that soy milk is bad, but instead that processed, unfermented soy is problematic.

While soy milk can be a better alternative to other milks, it still has its drawbacks. If you’re concerned about drinking processed milk, try making your own. And if you're thinking about making big changes in your diet, definitely chat with your doctor to figure out which milk alternatives are right for you. Now that you know what’s in your soy milk, drink responsibly.