Soy drinks have become more popular over the years as the health benefits of soy have become more widely known. Soy drinks are made from soybeans that are soaked in water overnight, then ground and pushed through a filter. The liquid is then boiled for several minutes and sweeteners, salt and oil added to improve its taste and texture. Common soy drinks include soy milk, which often is available in a variety of flavors, protein shakes and smoothies.
Some people prefer to drink soy milk or other soy drinks for a variety of reasons. Some are vegetarian or vegan while others think that it is more healthy to consume soy drinks instead of cow's milk. Soy drinks tend to be high in protein and fiber and lower in fat than whole cow's milk. They also do not contain lactose or cholesterol.
Manufacturers of soy drinks often add nutrients to the beverages to bridge the gap between soy milk and cow's milk. Vitamin B-12 is often added, for example. B-12 is a necessary vitamin but is commonly only found in animal sources such as meat. Adding B-12 to soy products can help ensure that those who eat a plant based diet do not suffer from a deficiency. Calcium is another nutrient that is commonly added.
Most large supermarkets, discount chain stores and health food stores carry at least one brand of soy milk. Soy milk can either be found in the refrigerated dairy section or in shelf-stable, aseptic packages by the powdered milk and other dry beverages. Soy milk in shelf stable packaging lasts longer before being opened but its flavor may not be as good as refrigerated soy milk.
One popular form of soy drinks is flavored soy milk. Chocolate and vanilla soymilk are sweet and creamy and do not have the gritty aftertaste that plain or unsweetened soy milks may have. Flavored soy milks can be high in sugar and may be best enjoyed as a treat instead of as an everyday drink. People who drink coffee or tea might choose to add a soy creamer instead of half and half or other non-dairy creamer to their beverage.
Soy can also be made into a thick smoothie beverage. Soy smoothies may have pro-biotic bacteria in them, which can help with digestion. Single serve soy smoothies are often available in health food stores and large supermarkets. People can also make their own smoothies at home by blending a cup of fruit, such as berries, with a cup of plain or flavored soy milk.