Soy Allergy

Soy is one of the top 8 allergens responsible for the most allergic reactions. It can be ingested in a variety of forms: as whole soybeans, oil, or flour. It is also used in food products as an emulsifier, a texturizer, or a protein filler. Because of its high protein content, it’s used in nutritional products (protein powders, for example) and vegetarian products (meat substitutes, for example).

Since food allergies are reactions to the proteins in a given food, it was originally believed that soybean oil and soy lecithin are safe for soy-allergic individuals to consume. Now, it is evident that soy protein may occur in these products if they are not very pure. Approach these with caution as they can cause symptoms as well.

Soy Allergy Symptoms

  • Tingling in the mouth
    • Hives, itching, or scaly skin
  • Skin redness (flushing)
    • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other body parts
    • Wheezing or breathing difficulty
    • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Allergy-induced anaphylaxis

Soy is often a hidden allergen and very difficult to avoid in your diet. Below, NY Allergy & Sinus Centers provides a list of foods that contain soy to help you avoid an allergic reaction.

Foods That Contain Soy And Should Be Avoided

Edamame Miso Natto Shoyu (soy sauce)
Soya Soy albumin Soybeans Soybean Curd
Soybean Oil Soy fiber Soy milk Soy lecithin
Soy nuts Plant protein Soy sprouts Tamari
Tofu Some baby formulas Salad dressings Breakfast bars

Foods That Could Contain Soy

Asian Cuisine Baked goods Cereal Cheese
Condiments Butter substitutes Gravy Pasta
Meal replacements Crackers & chips Candy Canned meat
Hot dogs Yogurt Cooking oil Flour
Ice cream Broth Vegetable products Starch


There is evidence that cross-reactions between soy and other legumes are possible, though rarely symptomatic. Therefore, if your allergy tests have shown sensitivity to one legume, you may not have to eliminate all legumes from your diet. You should work with your NY allergist to develop dietary restrictions that are healthy and safe for you.

List Of Legumes

Acacia Aduki beans Alfalfa Black turtle bean
Black-eyed bean Carob Cassia Chick pea
Cowpea Fava bean Fenugreek Great Northern Bean
Green bean Green peas Kidney bean Lentils
Lima bean Peanuts Pinto bean Tamarind

Diagnosing A Soy Allergy

A soy allergy can be diagnosed using a skin prick test. Your allergist will prick your skin with a small amount of the allergen and watch for a reaction. A positive test will result in welts on your skin within 15 minutes. If results are inconclusive, a doctor might order a food challenge where you will eat a small amount of soy to see if it evokes an allergic reaction.

Soy Allergy Treatment

Since there aren’t any current treatments for food allergies, it’s necessary to avoid the food you’re allergic to. Thoroughly read food labels and beware of hidden names for soy, such as textured vegetable protein. It may be helpful to carry an allergy card to restaurants so the staff is aware of your allergy.

In the event of a severe allergic reaction, you need to have an epinephrine auto injector. It is the only medication used to treat anaphylaxis. Epinephrine can only be prescribed by a doctor; so if you’re diagnosed with a soy allergy, ask about your risks of anaphylaxis and if an EpiPen is necessary for your condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is mung bean soy?

Mung beans are considered legumes. If you are allergic to soy, you may be allergic to mung beans as well because of cross-reactivity.

What other protein can I use as an alternative to soy protein?

If you’re allergic to soy, brown rice protein can supplement your diet.

What is soy lecithin?

Soy lecithin is a food additive that is used as an emulsifier, or lubricant in food. It is generally used in small amounts, but highly sensitive patients can still react to it.

Are there any alternatives to tofu for vegetarians?

Seitan is an alternative to tofu is you’re allergic to soy. It is made with gluten and contains a high amount of protein.


For more information about soy allergies, call NYASC today at (212) 686-4448. We have the latest allergy testing and treatments, and we offer convenient clinics throughout NYC: Murray Hill, Midtown, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Chelsea, and Queens. Our NY allergy specialists can also help you find relief for your nasal and sinus problems, asthma, ear, nose, and throat (ENT) symptoms, skin conditions, and respiratory allergies. Book your appointment now!

  • NY Allergy & Sinus Centers

    Our premier team of allergists offer state-of-the-art methods for diagnosis and treatment of allergies and sinus conditions. Our NY Allergy & Sinus Centers perform Allergy Skin and Blood Testing, Food Allergy Testing, Patch Testing, and Immunotherapy, and often a same-day diagnosis is possible.

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