Soybean And Its Products: Nutritional And Health Benefits

The important soy components that exhibit biological activity are proteins or peptides, saponins, iso-flavones, and protease inhibitors.

Soybean And Its Products: Nutritional And Health Benefits

Soybean is a nutritional and economically important crop that originated in Asia. Soybean is utilized globally for a healthy diet due to its high contents of iso-flavonoids and folic acid, Dietary Soy products are the subject of increasing scientific interest due to their potential beneficial impact on human health.

The important soy components that exhibit biological activity are proteins or peptides, saponins, iso-flavones, and protease inhibitors. Soybean and its components possess anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-proliferative, anti-obesity, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Their consumption has been correlated to various potential health benefits and the reduction of numerous chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, immune disorders, certain types of cancer, and obesity.

Several investigations have proved that soy products, abundant in protein, help reduce cholesterol. This article is focused on soybeans, their products, and their potential roles in the prevention and treatment of various chronic diseases.

The soybean (Glycine max) crop is considered to be the main source of oil globally and is important due to its nutritional value and commercial importance. The cultivation of soybeans originated in Asia about 5000 years ago, first in China and then in Japan. It was brought to Europe in the 18th century and then to the United States in the 19th century.

Since it is an excellent source of vegetable oil and proteins, it thus became an economically important crop worldwide. Soybean is commercially cultivated as the main oilseed crop in about 35 countries.

On the basis of the dry weight of mature raw seeds, soybeans are normally comprised of nearly 35 to 40% protein, 20% lipids, 9% dietary fiber and around 8.5% moisture. This composition varies with the location, climate, and variety of soybeans. Soy foods are great sources of minerals, proteins, fibers and vitamins and are also low in saturated fats.

Soy products of wide varieties have been prepared, such as roasted soybean, boiled soybean, soymilk, soy mayonnaise, miso, soy cheese, soy yoghurt, tempeh, soy sauce, tamari, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) or Textured Soy Protein (TSP) and tofu.

The important soy components that exhibit biological activity are proteins and peptides, saponins, isoflavones, and protease inhibitors. Soybean seeds contain adequate amounts of elements whose intake is marginal, such as calcium, iron, and zinc, and have considerably higher amounts (5%) of minerals as compared to cereal seeds (1%).

Soy proteins are also a great source of different bioactive peptides and have exclusive health advantages that are utilised for the prevention of chronic illnesses related to aging, such as obesity, impaired immune function, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Health Benefits of Soybean

Soybean is anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-obesity, and other (immune-stimulant, anti inflammatory) and has effects on coronary heart diseases.

Anti-diabetic effects

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder investigated as one of the major health issues globally. It has been rising invariably to around 336 million people in the world and is estimated to exist in around 552 million people by 2030. There are various phytochemical-derived foods available for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Among these, soybeans and soy products have shown significant results towards the prevention of diabetes mellitus. Screening of fermented soy and flaxseed milk (FSFM) was done for their anti-diabetic role in alloxan-induced diabetic rats utilizing the oral route.

Fermented milk with probiotics enhanced the effectiveness of isoflavones in the cure of diabetes mellitus. The study on flaxseed and soy milk showed that they are potent in the reduction of type 1 diabetes with no side effects.

Antioxidant effects

Oxidative stress takes place due to an imbalance between antioxidant mechanisms and free radicals. It continues to be a major mechanism in a range of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, etc. The soybean and its products are very effective in decreasing oxidative stress and scavenging free radicals. Many studies have been performed on the antioxidant activity of soybeans and their products.

Dou-chi, a traditional soybean food that was fermented using Aspergillus sp., showed potential to scavenge free radicals. In the study, the isolation of various phenols and flavonoids was done, and among them, 3’-hydroxydaidzein was found to have high 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) free radical scavenging effects.

Lee et al. reported that alterations in the nutritional components and antioxidant potential of fermented soybeans against ABTS, DPPH, and hydroxyl radicals. Furthermore, they also examined the variations of total phenolic contents, -glucosidase effects, and -glucosidase inhibitory activities.

Anti cancer effects

Cancer is an anomalous cell growth that either inhibits at a specific site or keeps extending within the body. Various dietary materials abundant in nutrients have anti-cancer qualities and are effective in the prevention of a variety of cancers.

Soy isoflavones have gained much attention over the years due to their potential role in the prevention of cancer.

They have been described as dietary components with a potential role in reducing the occurrence of various cancers, like prostate and breast cancer. Genistein, the prevailing isoflavone present in soybean, has been shown to be effective in the inhibition of carcinogenesis in animal models.

There are various investigations that demonstrated the inhibitory effect of genistein on human cancer cells through the modulation of genes associated with the regulation of cell cycle and apoptosis.

The anti-proliferative influence of soy iso-flavones has been generally associated to the interaction of estrogen receptors. The control of apoptosis, cell growth and survival, anti-oxidant properties, or inhibition of angiogenesis and metastasis have been investigated utilising different isoflavone dosages and various breast cancer cells.

Effects on Coronary Heart Diseases

There are reports suggesting a significant impact of soy protein products on health. On the basis of a total diet and nutritional perspective, various studies have explained the difference in mortality rates from different types of cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in various countries.

A number of investigations have described that animal protein, such as casein, is more cholesterol emic and atherogenic as compared to plant derived protein.

Carroll showed that soy proteins have significant potential in lowering the cholesterol level of normal and hypercholesterolemia persons Anderson et al. conducted a meta-analysis and reported that by consuming soy protein, blood lipid levels (total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL-cholesterol) decreased significantly in humans.


In the trend of nutrition and health and the active interest of people, soybeans and soy proteins have attracted immense attention as these are highly nutritious, functional, and economical food ingredients.

The nutritional composition of the crop, soybeans, can be altered by conventional breeding programmes or genetic engineering to meet consumer or industrial requirements. Soybeans and their products can play an essential role in providing nutritious foods according to consumer demand.

Soybean, a nutritional crop, contains a high concentration of proteins, vitamins, lecithin, isoflavonoids, micro and macro elements. The high amounts of biologically active components in soybeans enable them to be used in various pharmaceutical industries for the production of drugs and dietary supplements.

Soybean is also a major source of many peptides that have a broad range of biological activities such as anti-diabetic, hypolipidemic, anti-hypertensive, antioxidant, anti-obesity, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, neuromodulatory, and immune-stimulatory properties that have been investigated in various models.

Although much information has been gathered about the health benefits of soybean, a nutritional crop, and fermented soy products, a complete investigation of the different molecular level studies and further clinical trials are required to conclude that soy products are advantageous for the human race as a dietary nutrient.

More research is needed to determine the amount of active soybean peptides liberated by various methods (for example, invivo or in-vitro digestions), as well as the effect of age and gender on the action or generation of bioactive soybean peptides. In addition, the study on synergistic multi-component impacts of soybean on biological functions is recommended for further analysis.