Should You Eat Soy or Soybeans During Pregnancy? Are They Safe? 

Photo of author

Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

Published on

BabyFacts logo

Have you heard speculations that it is unsafe to eat soy or soybeans while you are pregnant? Then, let’s talk about it! 

Overall, soy is safe for pregnant women as long as it is consumed in moderation. It is a nutritious legume source that provides vitamins, minerals, protein, and more. 

Let’s discuss more details regarding the safety of consuming soy and soybeans during your pregnancy, and balance out the risks and beneficial health effects.

Is Soy Safe During Pregnancy? 

Aside from edamame (which is immature soybeans), soymilk, or tofu, soy in the form of cooked soybeans is safe during pregnancy. However, due to some concerns we will discuss here, it is best to stick with consuming soy and soybeans in moderation. 

Research also supports many beneficial effects of soy intake during pregnancy.

A study was completed in 2021 that demonstrated that maternal consumption of soy during pregnancy actually decreased the risk of behavioral issues in the child, such as hyperactivity and peer problems when they get older (source: International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition). 

Another study concluded that soy intake in pregnant mothers with gestational diabetes experienced improved glucose homeostasis, triglyceride levels, and reduced oxidative stress (source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism). 

soy milk in a glass

Additionally, many speculate that soy can decrease fertility and become a problem for those hoping to become pregnant. However, research does not support this relationship (source: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology). 

However, there are concerns over the phytoestrogen content in soy. A 2013 study demonstrated the increased risk of hypospadias from maternal intake of phytoestrogen (source: American Journal of Epidemiology).

Another review raised some concerns about phytoestrogen exposure and reproductive health. However, more research is needed to learn about these issues and phytoestrogen consumption during pregnancy.

For the general population, the recommendation is to consume a maximum of two servings of soy each day (source: United States Soybean Export Council). So, it may be best to stick with just one serving of soy a few times a week while you are pregnant. 

Can Pregnant Women Eat Soybeans? 

As mentioned above, consumption of soybeans in moderation, such as a serving, is considered safe during pregnancy. Soybeans are often cooked and eaten on their own or included in a soup, salad, or another entree. Some even make soybeans into a hummus or dip.

Soybeans are rich in protein, unsaturated fats (also known as the healthy fats), many vitamins, minerals, and more (source: United States Department of Agriculture [USDA]). Therefore, incorporating them into your diet during pregnancy has many health benefits. 

Raw soy chunks, soy meat for vegans in wooden bowl

Can I Eat Soy Chunks or Soy Protein When Pregnant? 

When it comes to vegan meat alternatives, such as Quorn, that are often soy-based, so following the recommendations above is appropriate here as well. These items are a great way to obtain a source of protein without eating meat, fish, or seafood if you don’t want to.

However, these food products are often high in sodium, so try choosing lower salt options or making your own vegan soybean protein dishes at home.

Additionally, it is essential to note that if you are hoping to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet while you are pregnant, speak with a registered dietitian and physician.

In conclusion, I hope this article helped clarify the safety and recommendations regarding soy consumption during pregnancy.