Soybeans are legumes native to China and were among the region’s first plants to be domesticated. Consequently, soybeans are among the most revered Chinese grains and feature prominently in Chinese cuisine.
However, the legume has gained global traction over the last five decades, with one report showing that global soybean production is 13 times higher today than in the 1960s. So, what is it about soybean that is driving this driving such high demand for the seemingly humble legume?
Soybeans have numerous applications within and outside the kitchen pantry. Below are ten little-known yet outstanding facts about the soybean.
1. Soybean Oil Is The World’s Second Most Important Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil has numerous nutrients and health benefits, including energy production and high polyunsaturated fat content. Consequently, they play a significant role in the human food chain.
However, not all vegetable oils are made equal. Food experts rank vegetable oils according to production and consumption levels, including high yield per hectare, adaptability (little need for fertilizer), and versatility in the kitchen.
Based on the above parameters, soybean oil is the second most important oil in the world, rivaled only by palm oil. For more facts about sustainable soy explore USSOY.ORG website.
2. Brazil Is The World’s Second Largest Soybean Producer
Although Soybeans are native to China and constitute a significant portion of Chinese cuisine, it may surprise you that China is not a leading soybean producer. On the contrary, Brazil is the current leader in soybean production and export. One global report shows that the South American country rakes approximately USD 28.6 billion from soybean export annually from soybeans.
The US comes in a close second, raking in USD 25.6 billion, with Argentina and Canada securing third and fourth places, respectively. On the other hand, China is the world’s leading soybean importer.
3. Soybeans Functions As Livestock Feed
Although soybeans and soy food products are popular kitchen staples, over 70% of the soybeans grown function as animal feed. Soybean meal has a high amino acid content, which is essential for healthy meat ad dairy production.
Moreover, as stated earlier, soybeans are efficient plants requiring minimum mechanization and input to grow. The legumes also have a short maturation window, facilitating a year-round animal feed supply.
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4. Soybeans Are Used In Industrial Manufacturing Processes
Besides food production and aminal feed, soybeans are crucial ingredients for essential non-toxic industrial products. For starters, one industry report shows that 3% of the total soybean oil production goes into inedible applications.
According to the report, soybean oil is used for biodiesel, a renewable and biodegradable substitute for petroleum diesel. It has numerous applications, including lubrication, transportation, cleaning oil spills, and generating heat and energy.
Besides soybean oil, soybean meal has industrial applications, including making adhesives, composites, and plastics. More research is underway to establish more soybean industrial applications.
5. April Is National Soy Foods Month
Soybeans are the primary ingredients for diverse soyfoods, including Tempeh, Tofu, soy sauces, and soy dairy products. Given the growing soyfood prevalence on dinner tables worldwide, April is national soy foods month.
Soy foods month is a time to explore different soy foods, including emerging grab-and-and-go or frozen foods alternatives. Moreover, you can explore delightful soy-based recipes to mark national soy foods month.
6. Soy Is Among The Complete Plant-based Proteins
Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids in adequate quantities to meet each amino acid’s recommended dietary intake (RDI). Amino acids are a protein’s building block and the human body, and proteins constitute 20% of the human body. Therefore, complete proteins are a necessary part of a healthy diet.
However, complete proteins are primarily animal-based dietary sources like meat, dairy, and poultry. Consequently, people on meat-free and vegan diets may experience protein deficiencies. However, soybeans and soy foods are fantastic meat-free protein alternatives because of their complete protein content.
7. Soybeans Have A High Nutrient Density
Although soybeans are popular for their protein content, they have a high nutrient density. Nutrient-dense foods have a higher nutrient content than the calories you must consume to enjoy the nutrients.
Besides proteins, soybeans are rich in vitamins, including E, K1, and B complex vitamins. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and minerals, including copper, manganese, iron, potassium, and phosphorus.
8. Soybeans Are Good For Skin And Hair Health
As stated above, soybeans are rich in vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. The two nutrients are crucial for healthy skin and hair.
For starters, vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, helping to reduce oxidative stress effects on the skin. Moreover, it nourishes and increases blood flow to the hair shaft, facilitating healthy hair growth.
On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammation properties, regulate sebum production, and keep the skin and hair hydrated. Therefore, consider purchasing soy-based skin and hair care products.
9. Cancer Prevention
Besides nutrients, soybeans are rich in phytochemicals, including isoflavone. According to one research review, eating a moderate amount of soybeans and soyfoods lowers the risk of developing hormonal cancers, including breast and prostate cancers. However, more research is necessary on the same.
10. Soybeans Can Help Manage Menopause Symptoms
Menopause features numerous uncomfortable symptoms, with the most prevalent being hot flashes. However, one study concluded that soy’s isoflavones are one-third as effective as estrogen in reducing hot flashes.
Soybeans have numerous benefits and applications in diverse industries. The legume plays a crucial role in the food chain, with no parts going to waste. Therefore, soybeans are among the world’s most efficient and diverse crops.