The soybean is a legume that has been grown in East Asia for thousands of years.
When the mature bean is consumed raw, soy is poisonous. That’s why soybeans are processed into products such as tofu, miso, soy milk, and meat alternatives.
Edamame is an immature soybean left in the pod and is safe to consume raw.
It’s worth noting that many soybeans are genetically engineered for resistance to herbicides like glyphosate. While they are still only a small portion of Australian soya bean production (as opposed to more than 90% in the US), to ensure you’re not eating GMO always choose organic beans.
The soybean is one of the oldest cultivated crops. However its original area of distribution, in the northeast of the Chinese mainland, left it somewhat isolated from the Western world and it use in foods has only reached us recently.
The bean has been cultivated in China for thousands of years, and became popular in other Asian countries (especially Japan and Korea) as early as the third and fourth centuries. We continue to use three Japanese words – “tofu” (itself from the Chinese word “doufu”), “natto,” and “edamame” (meaning “branch bean” or “stalk bean”) to refer to various forms of soya beans.
Soy is a rich source of protein, manganese, fibre, iron, and folate. For vegans and vegetarians, soy products are often an integral part of a balanced diet.
There is some controversy over the health benefits of soy. Some studies tout it as a healthy food while others warn against its dangers. Nonetheless it’s an economic form of non-acidic protein consumed by many people for millennia. It’s safe to say that to get the full nutritional benefits of soy, eat it as traditional cultures do – do not consume great quantities of unfermented soy, but choose foods that use fermentation techniques to ensure the maximum available nutrients.
It has 44% complete protein and an exceptionally high level of lecithin and glutamine acid.
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