Wild soybeans, with very small purple flowers, and small, hard, roundish black to dark brown leaves, originated in East Asia prior to 1000 BC.
This plant had very little in common with present cultivated descendants.
The history of soybeans is very colorful and interesting. A soybean, together with rice, millet, barley and wheat, has been considered a sacred plant for 5000 years. This legume came in Europe in the form of anecdote that was describing the unusual and curious cuisine popular in Japan. Those were the soy sauce and tofu.
The black American botanist and inventor, George Washington Carver, developed scores of uses for soybean and other legumes. Henry Ford popularized soybeans as well, spending millions on research of soybean industrial usage, in particular, in the industry of plastics. “The king of beans” was one of the world’s major crops in 1980 that covered more than 53 million hectares around the world.
Today, you can find soybeans everywhere around the world.
Soybean is a species of legume, and is classified as an oilseed. There are many variations in the bean size and colors of flowers and pods, but this hardy crop in general is high in nutritional value.
Apart from being one of the cheapest proteins for animals, soybeans contain essential amino acids, B vitamins, calcium and omega 3 fatty acids.
Science has confirmed that soy isoflavones are very similar to our hormone estrogen. Fat-free, soy plant is a significant source of potassium, magnesium, albumin, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin E.
Health Benefits of Soy
- Is a powerful immune booster, thus, sometimes, regarded as “plant meat”. Due to this characteristic and high level of proteins, soybeans are also very popular in different diets.
- Contains lecithin that is responsible for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, that way it can strengthen the tissue and organs in the body.
- Can lower the level of cholesterol in the body.
- Improve the metabolism of lipid.
- Soybean lecithin is important for the human brain, thus it can improve intelligence. Lecithin contains the phytosterols that increase the function of nerve cells.
- Can prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.
- Improving the energy is one of the most lucrative functions of soybeans. The soybean’s protein increases the inhibitory function of the cerebral cortex.
- Can alleviate the depression and gloomy mood, and bring into balance the mood disorders in general.
- Can treat coronary atherosclerosis.
- The iron in soybeans can expand capillaries and soften red blood cells, therefore prevent deafness. The other important element in soybeans is zinc that can also prevent hearing loss.
- Soybean has protease inhibin, it can prevent and treat cancer, including breast, colon and prostate cancer.
- Contains saponins that have antioxidant effects.
- Is effective in treating high blood pressure, and it can bring the pressure down due to the important element: potassium.
- Maintains the bone density.
- Controls the glycemia level and is recommended for those suffering from diabetes.
- Can slow down skin aging and it can prevent the synthesis of melanin in skin cells.
Shapes and Size of Soy Food
It is made from soymilk curdled with minerals, so, when the liquid is dried, the curd is pressed into a custard-like cake. Tofu can come in many varieties and usually absorbs the taste of the ingredients that are mixed with it.
Edamame is a small and green soybean. It can be steamed, boiled, or eaten raw. Its taste is similar to green peas or artichokes.
Soymilk can be produced in different ways so the levels of protein and fat differ also. The truth is that the greater the protein content is the higher is the isoflavone content.
In particular, the protein content should be at least 4 %, while the fat content should range from 1-3%. All soymilkis lactose and cholesterol free.
Today, soymilk is fortified with other nutrients, vitamins and calcium, and one can find it in many flavours.
Tempeh is soybean product from Indonesia that is inoculated with a mold and then incubated.
Miso is a Japanese fermented soybean and grain paste. It is salty and usually used as a soup base.
Soy flour is made from shelled or whole soybeans. It is a fine powder used in baking because it is gluten-free and it contains more moisture.
Image credit: DepositPhotos.com
Last article update: 3/21/2019