Common soybean, cultivated soybean (Glycine max) - an annual plant of the legume family, legumes and oilseeds. The seeds ("beans") are used for food or, after the oil has been extracted, processed into flour. Green mass, hay, cake and meal are fed to livestock.
The USA is in the first place among the producers, followed by Brazil, Argentina and China. The main importer of soybeans is Japan.
In the United States, 88% of soybeans are processed into oil. Refined soybean oil is used directly for food, is used to obtain margarine and mayonnaise, is used as vegetable shortening and in pharmaceuticals. It is also used in the manufacture of resins and plastics, paints and varnishes, adhesives, caulking compounds, disinfectants, insecticides, fabric soaps, soaps and other products.
Soy flour is used to produce a variety of feeds, baby food, confectionery, diet food, soy sauce and textured vegetable protein that looks and tastes like meat. In China and Japan, it is processed in large quantities into bean curd (tofu). Soy sprouts are also eaten. Seed-derived soy protein (a concentrate from which the non-protein fraction has been removed) is used to make beverages, food supplements and "vegetarian meat".
Soybeans are very nutritious. Protein in them is usually 35-45% of dry weight, oil - 18-25%, and it does not contain cholesterol, carbohydrates - 10-25%. Soy protein is well balanced in essential amino acids, apart from methionine and cysteine, which are too few. The oil contains a lot of both saturated (palmitic and stearic) and unsaturated (oleic, linoleic and linolenic) fatty acids.
Unlike its liana-like wild-growing ancestors, common soybean is an erect plant 30-200 cm high. The root system is pivotal, the bulk of the feeding roots is concentrated in the upper 10-20 cm of the soil. At the second node from the bottom, whole oval leaves develop on the stem, but all other leaves are trifoliate - with three plates. In their sinuses, small white or purple flowers are formed, usually self-pollinated. After fertilization, the plant ripens up to 400 hanging beans of yellowish, gray, brown or black color, usually containing two or three globular seeds. Their diameter is about 0.6 cm, and the weight of most cultivated varieties is 120-200 mg. The color of the seed coat varies greatly, but yellowish brown is especially popular with consumers. Common soybeans, like other legumes, are capable of symbiotic nitrogen fixation, provided by nodule bacteria of the genus Rhizobium, which convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium and nitrate compounds necessary for green plants.
The origin and history of the introduction of common soybeans into the culture are unknown. It is assumed that they began to breed it in the 11th century. BC e. in northwest China. The ancestor of common soybeans is considered a wild species - the Ussuri soybean. Soybeans came to Europe in the 18th century, and to America in the early 19th century. from France.
Soy has been used for thousands of years. Soy was first used during the Fu Dynasty (1134-236 BC), after the Chinese learned to ferment tempé, natto and soy sauce from soybeans.
Asians consume soy in large quantities. The average amount of soybeans consumed in China is 10 grams per day per person (about 2 tablespoons). In some areas of Japan, this figure reaches 60 grams per day. Asians consume soy in small amounts and only as a condiment, not as a substitute for animal protein.
Soy-based foods offer the same health benefits as conventionally fermented soy-based foods. Modern food products made from soy are not fermented, and fermentation helps neutralize the toxins found in soy beans. The method of producing such products reduces the amount of proteins and increases the amount of carcinogens.
Soy foods contain proteins, which include all the essential amino acids. Like all legumes, soy foods are deficient in the sulfur amino acids methionine and cysteine. Moreover, modern manufacturing technologies also deprive these products of lysine and weak amino acids.
Fermented foods from soy are a source of vitamin B12, which is essential for vegetarians. The substance in soy, similar to vitamin B12 (its analogue), is practically not absorbed by the human body. In fact, eating soy increases the body's need for vitamin B12.
Soy milk powder is safe for babies. Soy contains trypsin inhibitors, which inhibit protein breakdown and overload the pancreas. In animal tests, it was found that diets with a high content of trypsin inhibitors provoke pancreatic insufficiency and growth defects. Eating soy increases the physiological need for vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones and growth. The phytic acid in soy reduces the biological effectiveness of iron and zinc, which are beneficial to brain and nervous system health. There is a suspicion that megadoses of plant estrogens that enter the newborn's body when fed soy milk affect earlier puberty in girls in the United States and delayed puberty in boys.
Soy foods can help prevent osteoporosis. Soy can cause calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, two of which are important for strong bones. In Asia, osteoporosis is prevented by the ancient custom of eating broths (calcium), seafood, lard and offal (vitamin D).
"Modern" soy may protect against many types of cancer. A study commissioned by the UK government found that soy consumption may not protect against breast cancer and other types of breast cancer. In fact, soy may even increase the risk of cancer.
The plant estrogens found in soy can improve mental performance. A recent study found that women with higher blood estrogen levels showed lower cognitive performance. And among Japanese people living in America, eating tofu in middle age is associated with the onset of Alzheimer's disease later in life.
Soy estrogens (isoflavones) have health benefits. Soy isoflavones block phyto-endocrine fluxes. With daily consumption of soy, isoflavones can delay ovulation and stimulate the growth of cancer cells. A dose such as 4 tablespoons of soy per day has been associated with hypothyroidism (lethargy, constipation, weight gain, and fatigue).
Soy protects against cardiovascular disease. For some people, eating soy lowers cholesterol, but there is no evidence that lowering cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease.
Soy is a safe food and can help women during menopause. Soy can stimulate the growth of estrogen-dependent tumors and cause thyroid dysfunction. Decreased thyroid activity is associated with menopausal disorders.
Soy Isoflavones and Soy Protein Isolates have been officially recognized as GRAS in the United States (officially recognized as safe). The International Agro-Industrial Corporation Archer Daniels Mclassland Company (ADM) recently withdrew its request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA, the US government agency for the control of drugs, medical technology and medical research) to make soy isoflavones safe. This was prompted by multiple protests from scientists. The FDA has never recognized soy protein isolates as safe due to the possible presence of toxins and carcinogens in soy.
Soy will provide us with a joyful sex life. Numerous animal studies have shown that soy products cause infertility. Soy consumption stimulates hair growth in young guys, which indicates a decrease in testosterone levels. Even Buddhists use tofu to moderate their libido.
Growing soybeans is safe for the environment. Most soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified to allow farmers to use large doses of pesticides.
Growing soybeans is beneficial for developing countries. In Third World countries, soybeans are replacing traditional plants and depriving the local population of the profits that can be brought by processing products for their delivery to corporations in many countries.