Soy, tofu & Co – not only popular among vegetarians
For more than 4000 years, the soybean plant is cultivated in Asia and is today the world’s most widely cultivated legume. Around 260 million tons are harvested annually. In Europe, the soybean has however only since the 19th / 20th. A century its significance increased. The real boom was, especially in the 1980s, when food stores in Europe brought a wide range of soy products – first high-protein as an alternative to meat. Meanwhile, there are soy products for everyone. Meanwhile, all buy soy products: in addition to soybean oil, bean sprouts, tofu and soy beverages, soy various desserts, milk replacers are also offered. But even more exotic products such as miso, shoyu or tempeh can be found commercially. But is soy really so healthy? And what makes the legume actually so popular?
The protein-wonders from Asia
The soybean plant is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and is revered in China since time immemorial as sacred. The up to one meter tall plant resembling the bush bean and belongs to the family Fabaceae. Its special feature: all parts of the plant are more or less hairy. The growing in tufts seed pods each containing two or three beans. Their color varies depending on the variety of pale yellow to green and violet to black. Soybeans are grown mainly because of their high content of protein and fat.
High quality protein, oil and vitamins
In view of their nutrients the soybean has a lot to offer: it provides, among other high-quality vegetable protein. With a protein content of 35 g per 100 g surpasses quantity even good protein sources such as egg, meat and fish. In addition, the soy protein has a high biological value, which means that the body can use the protein well and much endogenous protein builds it. At the same time the little bean provides valuable vegetable oil, which mainly consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids. And like all legumes contain soybeans digestive fiber. In addition, other nutrients such as vitamin E, various B vitamins, as well as the minerals potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Alternative for vegetarians and allergy sufferers
For vegetarians and people with allergies or food intolerances soy products are often good alternatives. Vegetarians soy provides mainly a high quality substitute for animal protein. And who can not tolerate cow’s milk, may instead rely on soy milk or other soy products. Here, however, caution should be exercised, as well as soy frequently triggers allergies. Soy flour and bakery products from soy provide for people with a gluten intolerance a good alternative to products from wheat.
The variety of soy products
Soybeans can be into many different products. In addition to a wide range of soy drinks there are numerous soy desserts with a variety of flavors. Also often buy soybean oil, bean sprouts and tofu. But lesser known products such as shoyu, tamari, tempeh & Co are commercially available.