The soybean, soy bean, or soya bean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean, which has numerous uses. Soybeans are a high-protein food crop. They are an annual and are typically grown as a monoculture on industrial farms.
Agriculture[edit | edit source]
Growing areas of land used for soy to feed cattle is leading to the destruction of Amazon rainforest.
Soy as food[edit | edit source]
Soybeans can be consumed in many ways. Foods made from soybeans can be divided into unfermented and fermented foods. Unfermented foods include – tofu, soymilk, edamame, soy nuts and sprouts, while fermented soy products include – miso, tempeh, natto and soy sauce.
Some soy products are sources of calcium and iron – such as tofu or tempeh (made with a calcium coagulant) and calcium-fortified soy drinks.
Health effects[edit | edit source]
Soy is a staple of the diet of the longest-lived people in the world, the Japanese, including the longest-lived Japanese people, those from Okinawa. While soy alone is does not deserve all the credit for this, it does appear to offer a number of health benefits.
Criticism of soy has become popular in recent years, blaming it for cancer and many other health problems. The evidence, however, is mixed. Moderate amounts of soy appear to be healthy - larger amounts may have certain health implications, but these are not clear at this stage.
Among critics of soy, fermented soy products are often regarded as healthier as components of concern the soybeans such as phytoestrogens are at least partially broken down.
Uses[edit | edit source]
Soybeans have many uses as food, including:
Fermented soy food products include:
Non-food uses[edit | edit source]
Soybean oil can be used to make bioplastic and other forms of biodegradable packaging.
Notes and references[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
- Traditional Field Crops (Peace Corps, 1981, 283 p.), Appendix H
- The Use of Organic Residues in Rural Communities, Chapter 9