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Characteristics and Uses of Soybean | A Massive Crop

Soybean (Glycine max I..) is one of the most important protein and oil crops in the world. lt contains 40-42% good quality protein and 18-22% oil. Soybean belongs to leguminous crops and increases the nitrogen level of soil as an added advantage, leaving Nitrogen quantity equivalent to 23 kg per acre for succeeding crops. This is the major benefit in different farming systems, where soils have become exhausted due to intensive cultivation to produce more food for increasing populations.

Soybean is providing raw materials for important industries of edible oil, human diet, medicine and animal feed in many countries. Soybean has become an increasingly important agricultural commodity, with a steady increase in worldwide annual production. The worldwide increasing demand for soy bean is due to their unique composition, excellent nutritional value, health benefits and versatile end uses.

Characteristics of Soybean

1. Physical characteristics of Soybean

  • Soyabean varies in growth and habit. The height of the plant varies from below 20 cm (7.9 in) up to 2 meters (6.6 ft.). The pods, stems, and leaves are covered with fine brown or grey hairs
  • The leaves are trifoliate, having three to four leaflets per leaf, and the leaflets are 6–15 cm (2.4–5.9 in) long and 2–7 cm (0.79–2.8 in) broad.
  • Before the seeds are mature leaves fall. 

2. Chemical composition of Soybean

  • Together, soyabean oil and protein content account for about 60% of dry soybeans by weight; protein at 40% and oil at 20%.
  • The remainder consists of 35% carbohydrate and about 5% ash.

Chemical composition of the Soybean seed

Energy1,866 kJ (446 kcal)
Carbohydrates30.16 g
Sugars7.33 g
Fat19.94 g

Uses of Soybean

1. As Feed

  • High protein content (40-45%) in terms of amino acid composition
  • Adequate amount of vitamins &   minerals
  • As fodder & forage for animal use

2. Raw Materials for Industry

  • Used as a solvent and in making dyes,  synthetic resins, lacquers, glues, paper   coating
  • Soyabean oil for foaming, dispersing and wetting agents (lecithin)

3. As Food

  • Ingredients in traditional meal dishes
  • Fermented products such as soy sauce (toyo), soy cheese, soy paste, etc.
  • Soybeans milk

4. Soyabean oil

  • Soybean seed contains about 20 % oil.
  • Oil is processed, mixed for various uses, and sometimes hydrogenated.
  • Soybean oils, both liquid and partly hydrogenated, are exported to other countries, marketed as “vegetable oil,” and used in a wide range of prepared foods.

5. Soybean meal

  • Soy meal is the material remaining after solvent extraction of oil from soybean flakes, with a 50% soy protein content.
  • In Low-cost dog foods soybean meal is also used 

Health Benefits Of Soybean

Several large population studies have shown, that consumption of soy foods is associated with a reduction in prostate cancer risk in men.
It is significantly associated with decreased risk of death and recurrence of breast cancer among women
Recent studies have shown improvement in cognitive function, particularly verbal memory, and in frontal lobe function with the use of soy supplements.

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