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Is soy milk better for you than cow's milk?

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Photo Credit: Flickr/Benjamin Horn

Is soy milk better for you than cow's milk?

By Carolyn Hauck on April 30, 2015

In a world of the next big food craze: High fat diet vs. no fat diet, life-saving antioxidants, and cleansing, good old’ fashioned milk is getting a run for its money too. With the amount of dairy alternatives on the grocery store shelves, many are switching to milks not made from cows; with soy milk being touted as the most nutritious, and sometimes, more healthful choice than cow’s milk. But is it really better for you than cow’s milk? Well, that all depends on the person.

Besides choosing dairy alternatives because of a vegan diet or for ethical issues, lactose intolerance or a diary allergy are the primary reasons to switch from cow’s milk to soy milk. For people dealing with lactose or dairy issues, cow’s milk can leave them feeling bloated, cause digestive irritation and produce skin problems among other issues.

Soy milk and cow’s milk share similar health benefits. They’re both a good source of protein, and contain vitamins and minerals that we need. Cow’s milk is a better source for D and K, while soy milk contains folic acid and is a good source of vitamin B as well.

Calcium is key

If you’re going to switch to soy, it’s important that it be calcium-fortified. Bone-strengthening calcium is an essential part of our diet, and you’d be hard-pressed to get enough of it from leafy greens and legumes without supplementing with a calcium-rich milk.

Cow’s milk on the other hand is naturally high in calcium and the calcium found in cow’s milk is more easily absorbed by our bodies.

Each comes with controversy

Many will claim that soy is a better option because it has less fat than to cow’s milk. Soy milk contains less than one gram of saturated fat as compared to cow’s milk which can contain anywhere from 3-5 grams of saturated fat in low-fat or whole milk. But if you’re concerned about fat intake because of high cholesterol and heart disease, drinking low fat milk, organic is suggested.

Soy on the other hand is high phytoestrogen—a compound in food that’s been linked to breast cancer.

Beyond personal choices and allergies, is there reason to switch to soy milk for other health benefits? Given that both milks come with health benefits and risks, is soy necessarily better for you than cow’s milk?

According to Dr. Rick on JustAnswer there is no scientific evidence that soy milk is better than cow’s milk: “Soy milk does not have any documented, proven superior health benefits than regular milk.”

Every person needs to make food decisions based on their personal health history and preferences. If you have concerns about which foods are right for you, talk with a doctor or nutritionist now.