Soya and soy products 

The interest of both consumers and scientists dealing with health aspects of nutrition has been growing for several years. Soya-based fashion means that around 500 new dishes appear in the world during the year. We can buy soybeans from the soy, but also sausages, pate, goulash or tripe. This is because soy contains a lot of protein, even up to 40%, which is valuable, and its amino acid composition is the most similar to meat protein among plant products. In terms of protein content, soybean surpasses its close relatives – peas and beans. 


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Dry soybeans are slightly more caloric than peas or beans grains 100 g dry soya beans provide 385 kcal, and peas and beans – 290 kcal. Its quite high calorific value results from a high fat content (up to 20%). However, high fat content does not lower the soy’s nutritional value because it contains large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Also, the ratio of mono- and polyunsaturated acids to saturated acids is much more favorable than in meat products. The caloric content of soy products depends to a large extent on the recipe for their preparation and added ingredients. We should also remember that their calorific value should be properly compared with the calorie content of meat products, which often replace soy in the menu. In this comparison soybeans gain, especially if we defy it with pork or oily beef. 

Soy also provides vitamins and minerals. Of the vitamins, a rather high content of B vitamins (vitamin B1 in the amount of 0.690 mg / 100 g of the product, B2 – 0.189 mg / 100 g of the product, and vitamin B6 – 0.81 mg / 100 g of the product) should be noted. 

A portion of 100 g dry soybeans is also an excellent source of potassium (2132 mg), iron (8.9 mg), calcium (240 mg), magnesium (216 mg) and phosphorus (743 mg). 

Soy products 

The most popular soy products are soy milk, tofu and soy sauce. 

Soy milk is a beverage obtained from soaked in water and then ground soybeans. It is rich in protein and B vitamins. Unfortunately, it contains less calcium and vitamin D than regular cow’s milk. 

From soy milk in the coagulation process (protein molecules combine into larger aggregates, forming a clot), tofu cheese is obtained. It has a mild flavor, which is why it can be used for making a lot of different dishes. Under the influence of added spices, it can have a completely different taste. There are several species of tofu. The two most popular are tofu hard, suitable perfectly for cooked dishes, and soft tofu, having a creamy consistency. 

Soy sauce is one of the most commonly used spices in the world. He was brought to Europe in the 17th century by the Dutch. It is obtained as a result of fermentation of soybeans and wheat. We distinguish two basic types of Chinese sauce with salty and spicy flavor and Japanese sauce is definitely milder and sweeter. 

For one’s health 

Currently, many studies are conducted on the health benefits of soy products, as well as the possibility of using them on a larger scale as meat substitutes. Some studies indicate that soy may be one of many factors that reduce the risk of cancer and atherosclerosis. It has been found that it can be helpful in lowering the level of “bad LDL cholesterol without lowering” good HDL cholesterol. Long-term consumption of people with elevated cholesterol levels of about 85 grams of dry soybeans a day can lower total cholesterol in the blood by about 20%. Heart protection may also affect the isoflavones, which probably act as antioxidants. These compounds (especially one of them – genistein) are perhaps also responsible for the antitumor activity of soy. 

Recently, more and more attention is paid to the beneficial effects of soy protein in the prevention of osteoporosis. Soy protein, in comparison to animal protein, causes a much smaller loss of calcium in the urine. The amino acid composition of the protein is responsible for such action, and more specifically the content of sulfur amino acids, which is much smaller than in animal protein. 

Disadvantageous features 

Despite all the benefits of soy, you must not forget that it can trigger allergic reactions. The increasingly common introduction of soy products to the diet (for example, cow’s milk substitutes) has shown the possibility of soy protein intolerance. Symptoms of intolerance observed in children who have been treated with soy milk therapeutically are gastrointestinal complaints, such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever, loss of appetite. These symptoms are similar to those occurring in the case of cow’s milk protein intolerance. 

Soybeans, like other legumes, contain compounds belonging to thioglycosides, which may contribute to the formation of thyroid gland with long-term consumption. Their free-forming action consists in blocking the binding of iodine and the formation of tyrosine from thyroxin necessary for the production of thyroid hormones. Fortunately, it mainly concerns raw grains. Cooking reduces the content of these adverse substances by more than 30%. 

From the history of soy 

The history of the use of this plant dates back to the distant past. The first learned to use it Chinese already over 1100 BC. In Japan, soybeans appeared much later – at the beginning of our era, and reached Europe only in the sixteenth century. In China, Japan and Korea, soy is called a sacred plant and occupies a special place in the national cuisine of these countries. In Europe and the United States in the mid-1930s soybeans began to be used for the production of animal feed and edible oil. Only in the 1960s, due to the increased demand for new, valuable sources of proteins, the production of soy flour, semolina, groats and soy protein concentrates was started. 


You can read also: The Joy of Soy

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