Soy milk, which is made from soaking, grinding and boiling soy beans with water, is considered to be a healthy alternative to cow’s milk. But soy milk is losing ground to almond milk, which is made from roasting or blanching almonds, mixing them with water, grinding them, and straining the pulp. Let’s compare them and study the pros and cons of drinking soy vs almond milk. Both are vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Both are lactose free and do not contain cholesterol. So what makes the real difference between almond and soy milk?
The consumption of isoflavones in soy milk
Many of the health benefits of soy are derived from its isoflavones. Studies have shown that consumption of isoflavones may play a role in lowering risk of various diseases (such as heart disease, osteoporosis, prostate cancer or type 2 diabetes). For instance, isoflavones seem to protect against tumors because they act against cancer cells in a way similar to many cancer-treating drugs. However some critics claim that isoflavones can do more harm than good. The chemical structure of isoflavones is very similar to that of our own estrogen. Because of this similarity in structure, they can interfere with the action of our own estrogen.
Some studies link the consumption of soy products to an increased risk of breast cancer, though research is incomplete. So far no sufficient data is provided. But in general it is believed that soy is fine to consume in moderation. Soy’s benefits can overcome the negative effects as long as you choose soy milk that is made from whole soybeans organically grown and not genetically modified. In addition, it is recommended to drink soy milk in moderation (one or two cups of whole soy foods maximum each day).
Soy vs almond milk: what’s the best for men?
Some experts say that soy’s high isoflavone content makes it one of the best dietary factors in the prevention of prostate cancer. Others suggest it may have negative side effects for men when consumed in large quantities. Since isoflavones act similarly to estrogen, they may interfere with men’s hormones and may cause side effects such as: breast development and nipple tenderness, erectile dysfunction and a decrease in libido, a decrease in sperm count, or even mood swings and heightened emotions
Soy vs almond milk: are both safe for babies?
Almond milk doesn’t provide the nutrients necessary for optimal growth and development of infants. For example, almond milk is not a good source of protein. One cup of almond milk has only 1 gram of protein vs. 7 grams for soy and 8 grams for cow’s milk. Almonds themselves are packed with protein, but almond milk is not really a source of protein.
Almond milk also lacks B vitamins and contains more sodium than soy milk. Therefore it’s not supposed to be used as an infant formula. Unfortified regular soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, or grain milks shouldn’t be used as the primary milk source source during the first two years of a baby’s life.
Only soy infant formula should be used as they have all the nutrition a baby needs for good health and growth. There have been concerns about hormones in soy formulas and milks, but it’s believed that the levels of these hormones are too low to cause problems.
Note: some findings seem to demonstrate that the almond milk may an efficacious substitute of cow milk in infants with cow milk allergy (CMA) or intolerance (CMI). Some active principles contained in the almond milk may contribute to its beneficial effect observed in CMI/CMA-affected infants. More research is needed.
Soy vs almond milk: what’s best for acne?
In most cases, almond milk is actually a great substitute for people who suffer from acne – unless there is an allergy or intolerance to almonds or other ingredients in almond milk. Research suggests how using almond milk as an alternative to dairy milk can help lessen acne breakouts. Dairy milk contains a growth hormone, IGF-1, that can cause acne to swell and become even redder. On the contrary, almond milk is totally free of hormones contained in regular, skim and soy milk.
But in some cases, processed almond milk may negatively affect acne. Why? Lots of brands add sugar, chocolate or vegetable oil in almond milk. So it’s recommended to watch the label carefully to stay away from unwanted ingredients. Even if some studies fail to support a link between the consumption of chocolate or sugar and acne, diet can play a significant role in this skin disorder.
Both almond and soy milks have health benefits. Almond milk is a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, which can help prevent cancer and slow the signs of aging. Almond milk also provides vitamin D and vitamin A. On the other hand, soy milk contains isoflavones that can have positive and negative impacts. Since nutritional content varies substantially from one brand to another, check labels and choose a nut milk that meets your needs in terms of nutrients and taste! Be also aware that the production of almond milk and soy milk now raises health and environmental concerns. For example, almonds – mostly grown in drought-hit California – need millions of litres of water to be produced.