Soybeans are used in all sorts of food products to add nutrition and texture, and as extenders. They're grown across the United States as part of a typical corn-and-beans crop rotation that supports dairy and meat production farms, concentrated mainly in the Midwest.
Soybeans are fabulously nutritious, containing 30 to 50 percent protein, more than any other plant product and more than most meat. But because they are legumes, the protein is not complete (that is, it doesn't contain all the essential amino acids). Eating soybeans with rice or whole grain pasta will make a complete protein, however. Good amounts of the B vitamins and minerals complete the nutritional package.
Reduce Cancer Risk
Higher intake of soy foods has been linked with reduced incidence of heart disease and some forms of cancer. Studies on humans have established that soy consumption is significantly associated with reduced levels of blood cholesterol.
Epidemiological data show that consumption of soy is particularly associated with reduced risk of breast, lung, and prostate cancers, as well as leukemia.
Menopausal problems, including osteoporosis, are favorably affected by consumption of soy isoflavones, making soybeans especially beneficial for women. Hot flashes are significantly reduced in some women who consume soy isoflavones either as soy products or supplements. Studies show that the isoflavone daidzein has demonstrated a significant ability to prevent osteoporosis in both animals and humans.
No Harmful Side Effects
In addition to these very significant health benefits, soybeans lack the glycosides that can be so harmful when raw common beans (Phaseolus) are eaten. They do, however, contain a trypsin inhibitor. To inhibit the enzyme trypsin is to inhibit the body's ability to utilize proteins. But there's conflicting medical opinion on whether this is significant, especially at the level of soybean ingestion in the American diet. The trypsin inhibitor is destroyed by one hour of boiling before simmering. Anyway, there's no quarrel about soybeans' anticancer properties, which have been shown in many tests on lab animals.