Individuals seeking dairy free alternatives will find soymilk, soy cheese alternatives, cultured soy, and frozen soymilk that are free of lactose and milk protein. New food production technology and new varieties of soybeans result in new flavors that rival cow’s milk and dairy products.

In the Market

While many soymilks are found in the refrigerated case alongside traditional dairy products, other soymilks are packed in aseptic packaging and found specifically in the health food or “natural food” aisle of mainstream grocery stores. Besides the original flavor, soymilk comes in vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, and egg nog. There are non-fat, low fat, and lite varieties of several brands in the market, but the fat is mostly unsaturated. Similar to dairy milk, soymilk can be found in plastic jugs, cartons or shelf-stable boxes, from lunch-box size to family size. Powdered soymilk is usually packaged in a canister. Soymilk can be combined to make a variety of soy beverages like coffee, chai or mocha drinks, smoothies and juice/soymilk blends.

Retail Suppliers

  • American Soy Products
  • EdenSoy Soymilk and Soy Fusion beverages
  • Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
  • WestSoy, Soy Dream
  • SunRich Food Group
  • SoySupreme soymilk
  • DanoneWave Foods
  • Silk
  • Wildwood Organic Soy Creamer
  • Zensoy ZenDon soymilk

Give Me Five

  1. Grab a single-serve bottle of cultured soy smoothie, soy coffee latte or chocolate soymilk for a quick, healthy and protein-rich beverage snack.
  2. Cook with regular, whole soymilk, versus “non-fat” or “light” brands to provide firmer consistency in cooked dishes such as puddings, or custards
  3. Use 1-1/2 cups regular soymilk in place of 2 cups cow’s milk when making instant pudding (4-serving size), but the dessert may still be a little thinner than standard pudding.
  4. Pour your choice of regular, reduced-fat or non-fat soymilk over cereal, and add sliced fruit.
  5. Make dishes like mashed potatoes creamer by adding unsweetened soymilk.

In the Kitchen

All soymilk should be handled like any perishable dairy product. Follow “use by” dates on packages. Shelf-stable aseptic soymilk has a 12-month shelf life. Once it is opened it must also be refrigerated. It will stay fresh for 5 to 7 days. A vigorous shake before pouring helps disperse the ingredients evenly throughout the liquid.

Soymilk works in any recipe. For sauces, gravies, soups and other savory dishes, plain, less sweetened works best. Light colored desserts and sauces will have more eye appeal by using a lighter colored soymilk. Soymilk varies considerably in color, from tan-colored to white.

Nutrition Highlights

Soymilk is lactose free and a good source of essential fatty acids. It contains no cholesterol and little or no saturated fat. Soymilk can be a good source of high quality protein, B vitamins, potassium, iron, dietary fiber, and bio-active components, including isoflavones. Many soymilks are fortified with calcium, vitamins A and D, riboflavin, zinc, and vitamin B12. Soy milk even can have as much as 50% more calcium than cow’s milk. Important bio-active components, found naturally in soybeans are being studied in relation to relieving menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, maintaining healthy bones, and preventing prostate, breast cancers, and colorectal cancer. The content and profile of bio-active components varies from product to product, depending upon how much soy protein is in the food and how the soy protein is processed.

Soymilk is a healthy, high-quality protein source that contains all essential amino acids needed for growth. In general, soy protein products are equal in quality to animal products.

In addition to the excellent nutritional value of soy protein, scientists have found that consumption of soy protein can contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease. The FDA has approved a health claim stating that “25 grams of soy protein in a daily diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol can help reduce total and LDL cholesterol that is moderately high to high.”

The Making of Soymilk

Soymilk generally comes from water-soaked and ground whole soybeans that are cooked at varying temperatures and filtered yielding a protein-rich soy base that naturally consists of soy protein, oil, fiber, sugars, water, and bio-active compounds. This soy base may be combined with a sweetener (such as rice syrup or cane juice), some flavor, and a stabilizer to yield a non-dairy alternative.

Besides using whole soybeans to make soymilk, manufacturers also hydrate full-fat soy flour or use soy protein solids (such as soy concentrates or isolates). While soymilk made with soy concentrates or isolates has less fat than whole soymilk, these soymilks are more highly processed. The variety of the bean also affects the flavor, and the sweeter beans produce naturally sweeter soymilk.

Nutrition Facts

1-cup serving, Plain, fortified Soymilk % Daily Value
Calories 98
Total Fat 4 g 6%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Total Carbohydrates 8 g 3%
Protein 7 g 14%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 96 mg 4%
Dietary Fiber 1.5g 0%
Calcium 368 mg 37%
Potassium 225 mg 6%
Phosphorus 225 mg 23%
Folate 24 mcg 6%
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 17 (2004)
*Check package label or contact the manufacturer directly to obtain the isoflavone content.
Exchanges: 1 nonfat milk + 1 fat
Source:Exchange Lists for Meal Planning, 2nd edition, 2002.
The American Diabetes Association/The American Dietetic Association.

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