Soybeans are legumes that have come into prominence over the last few years for their nutritional and health benefits. It is the most widely grown and utilized legume in the world. Among other legumes, the soybean stands above its colleagues for its high protein content as well as its high oil content. Soybeans are also processed into soy meal, soy flour, soy milk, tofu, textured vegetable protein and soybean oil.


 Soybeans are also the primary ingredient involved in the production of soy sauce. Soybeans' key benefits are related to their excellent protein content, their high levels of essential fatty acids, numerous vitamins and minerals and their fiber. Cooked soybeans can also be used as an ingredient in soups, sauces and stews. Soybeans are considered to be the only plant crop with complete protein. A complete protein is one that contains significant amounts of all the essential amino acids that must be provided to the human body because of the body's inability to synthesize them. Soy protein products can replace animal-based foods--which also have complete proteins but tend to contain more fat, especially saturated fat--without requiring major adjustments elsewhere in the diet.


Soy is useful in our part of the world where childhood malnutrition is still present among people living below the poverty belt. Its cheaper cost and availability as compared to meat, chicken and fish should make it a good alternative for people who can’t afford animal proteins. Soybeans also have some health benefits. Consumption of soy may reduce the risk of colon cancer, possibly due to the presence of sphingolipids. Soy protein has recently attracted a lot of attention because of its ability to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Results from research have prompted health officials to give a stamp of approval for soy's cholesterol-lowering effects. Its been proven that increased consumption of animal fat can favor an increased incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD).


A direct correlation has been established between saturated fatty acids, cholesterol levels, hypercholesterolemia, and the development of CHD. Soy and other vegetable oils are healthier alternatives to animal fat. Also using soy as a source of proteins can lead to a reduction in the consumption of animal proteins contributing to a lower consumption of animal fat and cholesterol.


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