Life Staples - The Story of Soybeans

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Soybeans belong to the pea family (Leguminosae). They have been cultivated by humans since the 11th century B.C. One of the most important crops grown in China, they made their way to Japan in the 7th century A.D., to Europe in the 17th century, and to the United States in 1804. Today, soybeans are grown everywhere. They are the world's leading legume crop, with more than 100 million metric tons produced annually.

Legumes have a bright future in the global kitchen. They are currently processed for consumption as oil in margarines, shortenings, salad dressings, or as protein in tofu, miso, tempeh, soy milk, meat extenders, and meat replacements. Soy may be sold as bacon like bits and simulated sausages, etc. As the nutritional and health benefits of *soya beans become better known, they are sure to become dietary superstars. But for now, think of them as undiscovered actors whose time will soon come in the theater of global nutrition.

Legumes are 13-25% oil, 30-50% protein, and 14-24% carbohydrate. They are an excellent source of essential fatty acids (those nine not produced by the body and therefore must be consumed by diet). Soy are good sources of complementary protein when consumed with cereal grains. They are comparable to milk, a high-quality protein, in essential amino acids.

V.R. Young and N.S. Scrimshaw of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Clinical Research Center and Department of Nutrition and Food Science said,

"When well-processed soy products serve as the major or sole source of protein intake, their protein value approaches or equals
that of foods of animal origin, and they are fully capable of meeting the long-term essential amino acid and protein needs of
children and adults".



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