People who are lactose intolerant are often recommended to substitute dairy milk with other lactose-free options such as soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, or rice milk. The main purpose is to fulfill the nutritional requirements of the body.
When the body isn’t able to digest cow’s milk, which has an impressive nutrient profile, it becomes important to find the closest alternative to fulfill the body’s nutritional needs. Soy milk and almond milk are the most popular options in this category.
Besides those who are lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies, people who prefer vegan or vegetarian diets also opt for these plant-based alternatives. Almond and soy milk are both low in cholesterol, vegan, and naturally lactose-free. But there is a difference between their nutrient content, health benefits, and environmental impact. So, the question is, which one is better?
Here is a head-to-head between soy milk vs almond milk based on factors such as nutritional profile, health benefits, health risks, impact on the environment, and more.
Round 1 – Production
Firstly, if you have ever wondered, “Is soy lactose free” or “Is almond milk lactose free”? Then the answer is a big yes. Both almond and soy milk are absolutely free of lactose, which is why they are considered the best alternatives to dairy milk. Here is how they are produced:
Soy milk is produced by soaking the soybeans and then grinding them with water. This slurry is then boiled, followed by filtration. This removes the insoluble residue called soy pulp from the slurry.
One drawback of the soy milk production process is that farmers tend to cut down rainforests for such livestock-feeding crops.
The production of almond milk also involves soaking and grinding almonds in water. The milky liquid is then filtered to remove the almond pulp or flesh.
The only difference here is that almond milk production requires an excessive amount of water in comparison to soy milk.
Round 2 – Nutrition
Here are the nutritional values of 100 grams of soy milk and almond milk, as per the United States Department of Agriculture.
|Soy Milk (100g)||Almond Milk (100g)|
|Micronutrients||Soy Milk (100g)||Almond Milk (100g)|
|Protein||3.55 g||1.11 g|
|Carbohydrate||1.29 g||0.34 g|
|Total Fat||1.88 g||1.22 g|
|Sugars||0.56 g||0 g|
|Dietary Fiber||<0.45 g||<0.45 g|
|Minerals||Soy Milk||Almond Milk|
|Iron||0.54 mg||0.29 mg|
|Calcium||101 mg||173 mg|
|Phosphorus||69 mg||30 mg|
|Potassium||158 mg||31 mg|
|Magnesium||21.5 mg||6.8 mg|
|Sodium||34 mg||60 mg|
|Vitamins||Soy Milk||Almond Milk|
|Vitamin D||27.2 IU||37.1 IU|
|Vitamin A||58 micrograms||41 micrograms|
|Riboflavin||0.084 mg||0.033 mg|
Round 3 – Health Benefits
Both soy milk and almond milk are considered a healthy lactose-free alternative to cow milk. Unsweetened soy and almond milk contain low sugar and carbs in comparison to cow’s milk.
Here are some health benefits associated with both:
High Fat Content
Soy milk has a high content of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in contrast to saturated fats. Saturated fats contribute to heart problems as well as high cholesterol. Cow milk contains saturated fats thus soy milk is a healthier option.
Rich in Protein
Soy milk is also rich in protein. It contains all the nine essential amino acids required by our bodies. In fact, soy milk is the only plant-based alternative that contains a similar amount of protein content as cow milk.
Soy milk contains isoflavones, an antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and is also suggested to have anticancer properties.
Soy milk is naturally cholesterol free. Studies suggest that consuming soy milk may lower levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
- Almond milk contains fiber, essential vitamins, and antioxidants.
- Almond milk is also rich in healthy fat, monounsaturated fatty acids, which are suggested to help in weight management and weight loss. Monounsaturated fatty acids are also said to reduce LDL cholesterol.
- Almond milk may also reduce LDL cholesterol which is also called bad cholesterol. This bad cholesterol is linked to obesity, heart disease, and even cancer.
Round 4 – Health Risks
Soy milk contains antinutrients which are said to hamper the ability of our body to absorb essential nutrients. These antinutrients may even harm the digestion of carbohydrates and protein by the body.
Antinutrients found in soy milk include-
- Phytic acids
- Trypsin inhibitors
- Indigestible oligosaccharides
Note that different manufacturing processes influence the presence of these antinutrients in soy milk. Thus, some brands may have low or no antinutrients and even an enhanced nutritional value. However, the process requires additional work, labor, and cost.
Deficient in the Methionine
Due to the manufacturing process, some brands of soy milk are deficient in the essential amino acid, methionine. Thus, you may require to find a different food source to fulfill its requirement for the body.
Intestinal Side Effects
In rare cases, soy may cause intestinal side effects such as bloating, nausea, and constipation. It may also trigger allergic reactions such as itching, rashes, or breathing problems.
Some brands add carrageenan in almond milk as a thickener. Carrageenan may cause many side effects such as inflammation, digestive issues, and ulcers.
Almond milk is a bad choice for those who have allergies to nuts.
Low Protein Content
In comparison to cow milk, almond milk is low in the content of protein and calories. Therefore, it makes it essential to add other food sources to the diet to compensate for the required protein, vitamins, and calories.
According to some studies, almond milk is a goitrogenic food. This means drinking almond milk in excess can affect thyroid function by inhibiting the absorption of iodine.
Round 5 – Flavors and Taste
In terms of taste, almond milk tastes better than soy milk. Therefore, most people prefer almond milk over soy milk.
Generally, soy milk has a creamier and thicker texture with a slightly sweet taste. But these days, many brands even offer it in different flavors. One can choose from the unsweetened, sweetened, or flavored options available.
The flavor of soy milk from different brands may vary as it gets affected by different compositions. Extra minerals and vitamins added to the product could also alter its taste a little bit.
Almond milk has a nutty flavor and a naturally sweet flavor. However, almond milk isn’t a good substitute for cow milk in cooking.
Due to its low-fat content, it doesn’t froth well and isn’t good for making coffee or foamy drinks. Almond milk isn’t good for baked goods either, as it negatively affects their texture.
Round 6 – Impact on the Environment
The only environmental drawback of soy milk production is that farmers cut down rainforest land in order to make space for soy crops. One survey even highlighted the use of several pesticides on soybean crops. This may contaminate the water supply, making drinking water toxic.
Almond production, on the other hand, requires almost four times more water than soybean production. Being a very water-intensive crop, almond farming raises irrigation needs on the farms, in turn increasing the risk of drought in the region.
Manufacturers use about 15 gallons of water in order to produce just 16 almonds. In order to pollinate the almond crops, farms also ship honey bees, which leads to a high death rate for the bees.
Based on these facts, almond milk production has a greater negative impact on the environment in comparison to soy milk.
Round 7 – Uses and Application
The uses and applications of soy and almond milk are almost the same. They are often preferred by those who are lactose intolerant or have some kind of dairy allergy.
Vegans and vegetarians also opt for dairy alternatives like soy milk and almond milk. They can be used as an alternative to dairy in oatmeal, cereal, tea, coffee, smoothies, or any other recipe.
Other Alternatives for Lactose-Free Beverages
Other alternatives to almond milk and soy milk for lactose intolerant people and those who prefer a plant-based diet are
- Oat milk
- Rice milk
- Cashew milk
- Flaxseed milk
- Coconut milk
- Hazelnuts milk
- Hemp seeds milk
- Macadamia nuts milk
Related: Here are some home remedies for lactose intolerance.
Generally Asked Questions Relating To Soy Milk And Almond Milk
Can You Mix Almond Milk and Soy Milk?
Yes, you can mix almond milk with soy milk. But not everyone is necessarily going to enjoy the mixed flavors of two kinds of milk. There hasn’t been any harm observed yet from consuming a mix of almond and soy milk. One thing to keep in mind is that different brands have different compositions.
If you ask, does almond milk contain soy? Then the answer is no. So if you want the benefits of soy along with almond milk, then we would suggest that you opt for homemade options. You can make both soy and almond milk together at home.
Is It Ok To Drink Soy Milk Everyday?
Yes, it’s ok to drink soy milk every day. Generally, 2-8 ounces per day serving of soy milk is considered safe. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), consuming up to 3 servings of soy foods (including soy nuts, tofu, edamame, or soy milk) isn’t linked with any risks.
In fact, consuming soy milk is considered good for improving cholesterol levels, fighting inflammation, reducing high blood pressure, and supporting weight loss.
Which Milk Is Best for Sleep?
Almond milk is considered the best for sleep. According to research, serotonin is the main hormone linked with a good night’s sleep. It’s even believed to be the true neuromodulator of sleep as it increases the production of calming brain waves. Thus, healthy serotonin levels play an important role in the quality of sleep.
Tryptophan, an amino acid that is found in cow’s milk as well as almond milk, regulates healthy levels of serotonin. Consequently, both almond milk and cow milk are good for sleep. Almond milk also contains magnesium, which is another important nutrient that helps troubled sleepers sleep well.
Overall, both soy milk and almond milk are great alternatives to dairy milk. However, both of these plant-based products have different nutritional profiles, health benefits, and tastes.
Soy milk gets one up on almond milk because it mimics cow’s milk in the best possible manner. It contains more calories, antioxidants, and protein than almond milk.
Thus, if you ask, “Is soy milk better than almond milk?” then we would say yes!
Apart from this, the production of almond milk negatively impacts the environment. As a final verdict, we would declare soy milk the winner over almond milk!
Lastly, if you want to consume dairy by boosting lactase enzyme levels in your body, here is the best lactase enzyme supplement for you.
Also, do check out our Optima Healthy Gut Solution, which can help you deal with all the issues relating to your gut and lead a healthy life.