Soy and soybeans present a variety of benefits to farmers, industry, food processors, and consumers. Below are some of the highlights of why soy is called the Miracle Bean:
- Soybeans can produce at least twice as much protein per acre than any other major vegetable or grain crop, 5 to 10 times more protein per acre than land set aside for grazing animals to make milk, and up to 15 times more protein per acre than land set aside for meat production.
- Soybeans are used in the five major markets currently dependent on petroleum products including: plastics, coatings, and ink, adhesives, lubricants, and solvents
- The USDA estimates for 2011 that 45% of soybean production will be exported– nearly every other row.
- Approximately 98 percent of the soybean meal that is crushed is further processed into animal feed.
- World soybean production has increased by over 500 percent in the last 40 years.
- In the U.S., the top soy-producing states are Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Nebraska.
- In 2011, U.S. farmers planted 74.97 million acres of soybeans – the sixth highest total as tabulated by the USDA.
- About 85 percent of the world’s soybeans are processed, or crushed, annually into soybean meal and oil.
- When used as an ingredient, soy can often improve the functional properties of foods. For instance, fried donuts absorb less fat, and white bread appears whiter.
- Textured soy protein used as a meat alternative has the texture of meat but has no cholesterol and little saturated fat. How heart healthy!
- When compared to meat proteins – the cost per pound is significantly less and you get double the volume when you rehydrate it – so is half that cost!
- Soy is an excellent source of a complete protein which is unique among plant sources.
- Even though soy is one of the 8 most prevalent food allergies, it occurs in only about 0.2% of population. It provides great protein and calcium alternatives for those with other food allergies (milk, wheat, etc…) or lactose intolerance.
- FDA approved a soy health claim in 1999 that states that 25 grams of soy protein a day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. That is about two servings of soyfoods per day but varies on products used. Foods that meet the labeling must have at least 6.25 g soy protein/serving.
- There is evidence suggesting that exposure to soy during childhood and/or adolescence reduces breast cancer risk later in life.
- Data overall suggest that soyfoods do not pose a risk to breast cancer patients or women at high-risk of this disease and therefore can be safely consumed by all women at any point in their lifetime.
- Soy contains at least five phytochemicals that may help prevent or slow the progression of some cancers. Current research suggests that soy may help protect against prostate cancer.
- Soybeans and soy products such as soy flour and textured soy protein granules play a pivotal role towards the reduction of chronic malnutrition among school aged children around the world. Local recipes fortified with soy products provide high quality protein and other nutrients that are well liked by the children.
- Soy flour and textured soy protein blend well into a large variety of cultural foods; They are easy to use, highly acceptable, economical, and provide a great protein source.
- Adding soy protein to breads, tortillas, corn meal, pasta, or any traditional food is a low cost and efficient way to ensure adequate nutrition for vulnerable populations. In this manner, not only do people receive enough high quality protein for the development and maintenance of their health, but they also get the added disease prevention benefits of soybean phytochemicals.
- Soy based fortified foods and micronutrient supplements are used to improve the health and nutritional status of infants and young children. More than half of children under 5 years of age years in many developing countries are estimated to be malnourished. Adequate nutrition is critical for children.
- More than half the deaths of children under 5 in many developing countries are attributable to malnutrition either directly or in combination with other illnesses, such as acute respiratory illness or diarrhea. Complementary feeding interventions with soy target children 6-24 months, when malnourished children are at risk for growth faltering, micronutrient deficiencies and infectious illnesses.