oybean is the seed (fruit) of a plant originally from the Nothern-East China. Aside from being employed for oil pressing, the beans are widely used as an important vegetable source of protein worldwide. The beans are popular in the Asian regions, where processed soybean products such as tofu, soy sauce, etc are especially cherished. Soybean is an annual, dicotyledonous plant. It grows well in porous, adequately moistured and mineral rich soil. Short-stalked green pods cover the entire soy plant about 70-80 days after plantation. Young soy pods measure about 1.5-2 inches long, swollen, straight or slightly curved, filled with a single row of 2-5 round, light green, smooth seeds. If left, the seeds continue to mature further, and dry in the pods.
Health Benefits of Soybeans
- At 446 calories/100 g, soybeans hold relatively more calories than some of other Fabaceae members.
- Its fats are 78% unsaturated, with no cholesterol, and contain lecithin. Soybean is beneficial for liver health and considered as balanced yin and yong food in TCM.
- The beans provide the highest; 36.49 g or 65% of recommended daily values of protein among legumes. Its protein is of excellent quality. Soybean is an ideal complement to grain foods.
- They contain ample amounts of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant sterols.
- They hold 9.3 g of dietary fiber/100 g. Dietary fiber works as a bulk laxative that helps to protect the colon mucosa by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. It has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing reabsorption of cholesterol binding bile acids in the colon.
- Plant sterols (phytosterols) especially β-sitosterol help lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Soybeans are among the highest legume sources of folates. 100 grams of fresh beans carry 375 µg or 94% of daily values of folates. Together with vitamin B12, it is one of the essential componenets of DNA synthesis and cell division. Consumption of diet adequate in folates around conception and during pregnancy time would help prevent neural-tube defects in the newborn babies.
- Soybeans are among the highest antioxidant sources in the form of isoflavones. Total value of isoflavones in them is 159.54 mg per 100 grams; daidzein, genistein and glycetein at levels 629 mg, 81.35 and 15.29 mg respectively. Isoflavones have been found to reduce post-menopausal cancers and osteoporosis.
- Soybeans carry good amounts of phyto-estrogen, formononetin. Formononetin promotes angiogenesis (new blood vessel regeneration).
- Soybeans are very good sources of many B-complex vitamins; more than 50% of daily values/100 g for some of vitamins such as riboflavin-67%, thiamin-73%, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, and niacin. Most of these vitamins work as co-enzymes in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.
- Furthermore, they are one of the finest sources of minerals like iron, copper, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium. 100 g of fresh beans hold 196% DRI (daily recommended intake) of iron, 100% of Phosphorus, 70% of magnesium, 184% of copper and 70% of manganese