Known as the “King of Beans,” soy is a primary source of vegetable oils and protein sold on a global scale. It is grown both in temperate and tropical climates.
Soybeans belong to the bean and pea families. They are the most significant protein crop in the world and the most abundant hectare-for-hectare protein source. Soybean oil and soy flour are produced by crushing the vast bulk of soybean yields. And as a viable protein source for vegetarians, tofu, miso, edamame, tempeh, and soy milk are a few foods made from soybeans.
This piece highlights the importance of soybeans globally:
Why Is Soy Important?
One of the most abundant and affordable protein sources is soybean, a mainstay in many people’s and animals’ diets worldwide. The seed contains 50% protein, 63% meal, and 17% oil. Because they don’t contain any starch, soybeans are an excellent source of protein for people with diabetes.
Additionally, soya is utilized to increase the protein content of other meals. The World Wildlife Foundation reports that most commercially produced beef, fish, chicken, egg, and dairy products contain soya (WWF). According to the WWF, Europeans consume 61 kg of soy annually on average. Even so, 80% of global soy use is for animal feed.
The volume of soybeans produced globally has increased 15 times since the 1950s. According to a report, approximately 80% of the world’s soy is produced in the United States, Brazil, and Argentina. China now imports the most soy, and future imports are anticipated to increase dramatically.
Soy as a Source of Sustainable Protein
Soybean meal is increasingly used in poultry and aquaculture as people’s appetites for protein increase. Soy is not only healthy food for humans but also plays a significant role in the diets of fish, cattle, poultry, and pigs. That decision was not a random one. Animals need energy, and amino acids to grow, thrive, and reproduce. Soy contains both of these nutrients. As a result, soybeans and soybean meals are highly sought after worldwide for use in animal feeding.
You can find excellent soy products in the grocery aisles. Soy can support healthy, balanced meals by giving the body high-quality protein free of cholesterol and low in saturated fat.
Soy Importance In Food Production
Early in the 20th century, soybean was first introduced to the Western world. While some soy foods, like soy sauce and soymilk, have recently enjoyed widespread acceptance, a new class of soy foods, such as soy meat substitutes, is gaining popularity.
First Generation Soy Products
First-generation soy products are those derived from whole soybeans that have undergone the least processing.
- Soy flour: Roasted soybeans are ground into a powder to create soy flour. Many food products use soybean flour, which is regarded as a healthy food. As health awareness grows, there is a noticeable movement towards soy goods, especially flour. Soy protein, soy isoflavones, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and dietary fiber are all abundant in soy flour. Additionally, it has all of the essential soy oil, which increases our muscle strength and endurance. The ideal ingredient for low-carb baking is soy four.
- Soybean sprouts: Soybean sprout is created by sprouting soybeans. You can cultivate it by putting the sprouted soybeans in the shade and watering them regularly until the roots are very long. In Asian nations, soybean sprouts are widely grown and consumed in various dishes. Sprouts have long been a popular vegetable. Asian cuisine uses soybean sprouts in various dishes, including soups, rice dishes, soy sauce dishes, and fresh salads. In addition to amino acids, crude protein, and lipids, soybean sprouts offer nutrients like isoflavones and niacin.
- Soy milk: Soy milk is a well-liked vegan substitute for cow’s milk made from plants instead of dairy. It is derived from soybeans, soaked in water, mixed with water, and then filtered to create soy milk. To strengthen the beverage, some companies include vitamins and minerals like calcium. Soy milk offers a wide range of culinary options, a creamy texture, and a nutritional profile containing vital omega-3 fatty acids and flavonoids.
- Tofu: A creamy, high-protein, low-fat soy food, also known as bean curd, often offered in blocks. Iron and calcium are both abundant in tofu. It is flavored with spices, sauces, and marinades and is prepared from soybeans, water, and a coagulant or curdling agent. This ingredient, a staple of Asian cuisine for hundreds of years due to its adaptability and nutritional worth, has recently gained popularity in Western vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Tofu is a cheap method to incorporate plant-based protein into your diet.
- Tempeh: This is an Indonesian protein source made from fermented soybeans shaped into a block. Because it contains the entire bean, tempeh has more protein and fiber than tofu. The fermentation process in tempeh makes the soy protein more easily digestible. It is frequently cut into tiny slices and fried, creating a crunchy exterior and a tender interior. Tempeh tastes nutty. It also tends to take on the flavors of any food or sauce added to it, making it a versatile option for various cuisines, from sandwiches and tacos to stews and chili.
Second-Generation Soy Food Products
Second-generation soy products are those in which modest amounts of isolated soy proteins have been introduced into intricate food systems. Examples are:
- Soy nuts: Soy nuts are a crunchy snack made from mature soybeans that have been soaked, drained, and baked or roasted. They are high in protein and dietary fiber and can be used in place of nuts. Soy nuts are crunchy, delicious dried soybean snacks. They have a nuttier texture than other soy products and can even be ground into nut butter. Soy nuts are high in protein, fiber, fatty acids, and isoflavones, beneficial plant compounds.
- Soymilk Yogurts: Soy yogurt contains the same amount of protein as cow’s milk yogurt and healthy, unsaturated fats. The protein content is comparable to traditional yogurt and has a smooth texture. Soy yogurt is also available without added sugar (plain), lacking in higher-protein Greek yogurt alternatives. Soy yogurt, like traditional yogurt, contains calcium, making it a nutritious choice.
- Soy Lecithin: Lecithin is a food additive made from several sources, one of which is soy. When added to food, it is commonly used as an emulsifier or lubricant. It also serves as an antioxidant and flavor protector. Soy lecithin can be found in dietary supplements, ice cream and dairy products, infant formulas, bread, margarine, and other convenience foods.
In addition to being necessary for several economic sectors, such as animal feed, dairy, oils and fats, food, and grocery, soy is also essential for ensuring food security. Global soya demand has grown due to urbanization and rising meat, dairy, and egg consumption over the past few years.