Can I eat soya products during pregnancy?

Yes, it's fine to eat soya products during pregnancy, as long as they're part of a balanced diet. Soy or soya products include:

  • soya drinks
  • soy sauce
  • yoghurt
  • desserts
  • tofu – a vegetable protein made from soya beans
  • soy vegetable oils
  • miso – a paste made from fermented soy beans that's used to make soups and sauces

If you eat or drink soya alternatives, such as soya milk, choose alternatives that have calcium added to them.

Phytoestrogens

Soya contains compounds called phytoestrogens that occur naturally in plants. For some people, phytoestrogens may act as a weak form of the human hormone oestrogen and may produce weak biological effects.

Much research has been carried out to try to understand the dietary risks and benefits of phytoestrogens.

Phytoestrogens have been linked to a lowered risk of osteoporosisheart disease and menopausal symptoms. But there are also some concerns that phytoestrogens could have harmful effects in certain groups of people.

The only people who are advised to restrict soya intake on account of phytoestrogens are people with hypothyroidism, women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and babies who have soya-based infant formula.

Read more about having a healthy diet in pregnancy.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 09/04/2018

Next review due: 09/04/2021