Soybeans are legumes that have existed for several years in the Eastern part of Asia and spread to other parts of the world later on. They are a very versatile crop grown as a grain or a vegetable. While most people must have heard about and seen soybeans, they don’t know much about this plant. Follow along as we discuss everything you need to know about this great source of protein.
What is Soybean?
Soybeans are a species of legume native to East Asia. They are grown for their edible bean, which has many uses. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) classed the plant as an oilseed rather than a pulse.
We can’t underrate the rate of global soy use, as it fits into almost every industry. Soybeans are the world’s second-largest crop by production volume after corn. Also, they are a vital component of various meat and dairy substitutes.
The soybean is helpful in industrial applications such as biodiesel and other biofuels. People also use soybean oil in different products, including cooking oil, margarine, and salad dressings. Besides, soybeans make various food products, such as soy milk, tofu, and soy sauce.
Nutritional Facts About Soybeans
Soybeans are a good source of protein, ranging from 40-56%, providing all the essential amino acids the body needs. They are an excellent source of fiber, which can help to regulate digestion. Besides, you’ll find sufficient vitamins, minerals, fats, and carbs in this crop.
Soybeans can be a healthy part of a well-balanced diet when eaten in moderation. When choosing soy products, choose those that are minimally processed and free of additives.
Benefits of Soybeans
- Improves Bone Health
Osteoporosis is caused by low bone mass and deterioration of the bony tissue. This condition leads to weakened bones, making it easier for people to fracture them. Women are most likely to develop osteoporosis than men. However, both genders can experience osteoporosis later in life due to factors such as aging.
The good news is that there are ways to combat osteoporosis and keep bones healthy. One of the ways is to eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin. Soybeans are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. They also contain isoflavones, plant-based compounds with various health benefits.
One of the isoflavones’ benefits is reducing the risk of osteoporosis and improving bone density. They can also help reduce the risk of fractures, especially in postmenopausal women.
- Reduces Cancer Risk
There is growing evidence that soybeans may help reduce cancer risk. Soybeans contain several compounds with anti-cancer effects, including isoflavones and lignans. Isoflavones are a type of phytonutrient that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Lignans are another type of phytonutrient that can help reduce cancer risk.
Studies have shown that women who consume soybeans regularly have a lower risk of breast cancer. Soybeans may also help to reduce the risk of other types of cancer, including gastrointestinal, prostate, and ovarian cancer.
If you want to reduce your cancer risk, including soybeans in your diet is an excellent place to start.
- Clears Menopause Symptoms
Menopause is the period during a woman’s life when her menstrual cycle ceases. This usually occurs around age 50. Symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and irregular periods.
Some studies suggest that diet plays a role in alleviating menopausal symptoms. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that consuming soy foods may help relieve some of these symptoms.
Researchers analyzed data from 535 postmenopausal women aged 45–65. They compared those who consumed soy foods with those who did not. After adjusting for potential confounders, it was found that participants who ate soy had fewer symptoms and reported lower scores for vasomotor symptoms.
Side Effects of Consuming Soybeans
- Digestive Upset
The proteins in soybeans can trigger an immune response in the gut, leading to symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea. Even trace amounts of soy can cause a reaction in people with a soy allergy.
- Suppresses Thyroid Function
Soybeans contain goitrogens, which are substances that can interfere with thyroid function. Goitrogens can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge, called a goiter. They can also cause the gland to produce less thyroid hormone. Thus, it can lead to problems such as fatigue and weight gain.
- It Makes You Fart More
Soybeans contain trypsin inhibitors, increasing your chances of flatulence. Trypsin inhibitors block enzymes that break down protein into amino acids. When this happens, undigested protein builds up in the intestines, causing gas.
How to Grow and Harvest Soybeans
To grow soybeans, you will need well-drained, fertile soil high in organic matter. You can germinate the seeds indoors in pots and then transplant them later or sow them directly in the ground. Once the plants have grown, thin them out so they are about 10 inches apart.
Soybeans are ready to harvest about 100 days after planting. You will know they are ready when the pods have turned yellow and are dry. To harvest, cut the plants down and then thresh the pods to remove the beans.
Soybeans are one of the most versatile food crops available. They can be used in many different ways, from making tofu to adding flavor to soups and stews. If you are looking for a healthy vegetable option, consider incorporating soybeans into your diet.