Are soybeans, soy milk & other soy foods rich in iron?

Soybeans as well as most soy products are excellent dietary sources of iron. A serving of cooked soybeans provides almost 50% DV, while a glass of soy milk provides about 6% DV.

Health benefits of iron

Iron is vital for health. It’s a key component of hemoglobin; a protein of red blood cells that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.

Also, iron is essential for muscle metabolism, healthy connective tissue, energy metabolism, cellular functioning, physical growth, neurological development, and the synthesis of some hormones, amino acids, and collagen.[1,2]

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, though! It may lead to serious side effects, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, impaired cognition, weakened immune function, fatigue, and low body temperature. Moreover, iron deficiency during pregnancy may increase the risk of premature delivery, and miscarriage.[3]

How much iron do we need a day?

The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg for women of reproductive age, and 27 mg for pregnant women.

Adult men and women older than 51 years require only 8 mg of iron a day.

As women require high dosages of iron, they may have a hard time meet their daily needs from food. They may benefit from taking a dietary supplement.

You’ll find a wide variety of iron supplements on iHerb.

Are soybeans rich in iron?

Soybeans are excellent dietary sources of iron. The regular consumption of soybeans as well as other soy products can improve the iron status of iron deficient people.[4]

Actually, they’re the richest beans in iron, containing 5.14 mg of iron per 100g. A serving of cooked soybeans contains 8.84 mg of iron. or 49% of the recommended daily intake.[5]

Is soy milk rich in iron?

Soy milk can help us meet our daily iron needs as well. It naturally contains approximately 0.37 mg of iron per 100g.

Moreover, a glass of soy milk provides between 0.9 and 2 mg of iron. So, a glass of soy milk provides 5-11% of the recommended daily intake.

Most soy milks provide about 6% of the DV (Daily Value) per serving, though.

Moreover, soy milk has fewer calories and less saturated fats than cow’s milk.

The best time to drink soy milk is at breakfast. Also, you could drink soy milk late at night. It could help you sleep better at night.

You can find a wide variety of organic soy milks on Amazon.

Soy milks aren’t getting fortified with synthetic iron. They’re naturally rich in iron. Some soy milks are getting fortified with certain vitamins, such as vitamin B12, though. Common plant-based foods don’t contain any vitamin B12.

What’s the iron content of other soy products?

Almost all soy products are good dietary sources of iron. A serving of tofu provides 23% DV. Also, edamame and tempeh consumption can help us meet our daily iron needs.

iron (mg)
per 100g
iron (mg)
per serving
soy flour9.5845%
soy protein
soy milk0.370.935%
miso soup0.330.794%
soy sauce2.380.141%
Iron content of soy products.

On the other hand, miso soup and soy sauce aren’t particularly rich in iron. They contain low amounts per serving.

Do we absorb the iron of soy?

As a rule of thumb, iron of plant-based is poorly absorbed. We only absorb between 5% and 12% of nonheme iron (iron in plants).

However, iron deficient people can absorb much higher doses of iron from food. People with low levels of iron can absorb up to 27% of iron from soy products.[6]

In contrast, the bioavailability of iron from mixed diets containing both animal-based and plant-based foods is up to 18%. Animal-derived foods, like meat, poultry, and seafood, enhance iron absorption.

Furthermore, we could increase the absorption of iron, eating plenty of foods high in vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption as well. Common foods high in iron and vitamin C are kale and spinach.

On the other hands, better avoid consuming whole-grains and beans with other foods high in iron. Phytates and polyphenols in these foods significantly inhibit iron absorption. 

High amounts of calcium might reduce the bioavailability of iron as well. Thus, better avoid consuming too much milk and dairy with foods high in iron.

In any case, healthy people, who follow a well-balanced diet, probably get more than enough iron. After all, there are many foods rich in iron.

Common foods high in iron

Common foods high in iron are meat, poultry, fisheggs, whole grains, beans, seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds), nuts (e.g. almonds), potatoeschocolate, and many fruits and vegetables.

Drinking certain fruit juices could boost your daily iron intake as well.

Are soy products good for you?

Soybeans have a superior nutritional value. Not only they’re rich in fiber and high-quality plant-based protein, but also, they’re packed with vitamins, minerals (e.g. calcium), and antioxidant compounds.

First, all soy products support weight loss.

Furthermore, soy milk could be a great plant-based alternative to cow’s milk in your favorite banana smoothie recipes. Moreover, as soy milk is low in sugars, it could be a great ingredient for keto smoothies.

Most noteworthy, soybeans are the richest food in isoflavones. Isoflavones are polyphenolic compounds with many health benefits.

Isoflavones can help maintain blood vessel health, help support cellular health, and significantly increase the antioxidant status of the body! Soy isoflavones may reduce the risk of cardiovascular heart disease, cancer, menopausal symptoms, and osteoporosis! Also, they may help improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce inflammations in the body.[7,8]

If consumed instead of animal protein, soy products may reduce the serum concentrations of LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. Fermented soy foods may have a beneficial effect on diabetes and blood pressure as well.[9]

Furthermore, soy foods may alleviate hot flashes and improve skin health.

Isoflavones are plant-derived compounds with estrogenic activity. They’re classified as phytoestrogens. Due to their high content of these phytoestrogens, many people think that soy foods are bad for our health.

Soy foods aren’t bad for you, though. Many studies support the safety and benefits of soy foods. For instance, according to the European Food Safety Authority, isoflavones in soybeans don’t adversely affect the breast, thyroid or uterus of postmenopausal women.