Among the oldest food crops of world in your fields, soybean is one of them. It’s supposed to be a ‘miracle’ crop because of its protein contents, good quality oil and some other qualities. Soybean’s seed contains 40% good quality proteins and 20% oil. Soybean was the only source of proteins for generations in China. It has been cultivated 4,000 years ago. Soybean was first introduced in America in 1804. In Europe it dates back to 1700s. Soybean, due to its high nutritional values,  became essential food at war.

Demand of soybean has been increased because the modern research has modified its production technology and its new uses. Soybean recipes are amongst the body-building, easily digest able and most nourishing foods in the world. Soybean is a food particularly for kids because it plays vital role in growth and development. It’s an excellent food for persons suffering from skin diseases, diabetes and mental fatigue.

In Pakistan it is non-traditional oilseed crop, however, as in our country the eating habits are “taste oriented” not “nutrition oriented” so, to educate the growers and consumers is need of the hour.

Nutritional Value of Soybean:

A diet enriched with minerals, vitamins, fats and carbohydrates never support a life unless it contains proteins. As food proteins act as raw material for hair, nails, muscles and many other tissues. Protein is important for child’s growth and adult’s body maintenance. Incomplete protein cannot sustain any life. Thus a food having complete protein is essential for a living body for its maintenance and sustainability. Proteins are different due to their nutritive qualities.

Mostly plant proteins differ in their nutritional values and sometimes are incomplete. The best plant proteins are those of soybean. In contrast animal proteins are complete with high nutritional values. It ranked five as a great source of protein foods. The beans, due to their unsaturated oil contents and high percentage of good quality proteins, are unique. This high quantity and good quality protein contents make it practically the same as animal protein (like meat, egg, fish, milk) in food value.

According to the chemical analysis soybean comprises of maximum amount of amino acids which are essential for humans and animals as well. It is the best source of proteins from plant kingdom. It means that soybean is complete enough for sustaining a life over extended time period. It serves as alternate source of meat i.e. it provides proteins at a very low price to fulfill the needs of mediocre families which cannot afford mutton and beef etc.

Protein contents of soybean are much higher than those of other foods. It contains 40% protein contents as compared to peanuts(28%), lentils(23%), peas(5.8%), wheat flour(8.9%), boiled chicken(26%), mutton(18%), beef(21%), eggs(11%), milk(3.3%), sole fish(17.6%), rice(6.2%) and potatoes(2.1%) proteins, respectively.

Soybean as Green Vegetable:

Soybean has neither been grown in our country nor has any special variety to be grown in Pakistan. From different countries, Oilseeds Program received 130 germ plasm lines of soybean, in 1989. AGS-190 line, introduced from AVRDC (Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center, Taiwan) was selected for vegetable purpose. Seed of this line was planted, multiplied and distributed, in 1990 to 1992, among the scientists and farmers as a green vegetable. It was proved to be very delicious and nutritive by them. During the month of October green peas are not available or are too expensive to be purchased by low income families. Hence, in October soybean green pods can be supplied at low prices.  Soybean, as vegetable, serves as a rich source of essential nutrients at affordable prices to the low income families.

This article is collectively authored by Adeela Sadaf and *Dr.Muhammad Tahir *Assistant Professor, Department of Agronomy,University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.