Soya is an annual herbaceous plant from the papilionaceous family. There are varieties that can reach around twenty centimetres tall and plants that can reach more than 1.5 m tall. The plant is covered with small red-brown to grey hairs, with large, tri-lobed leaves and small mauve or blue flowers that hang in clusters. Once they have self-fertilised, the fruits grow and become pods that contain four round beans, the size of a pea. These beans are rich in oil and have a high nutrient value. Like most papilionaceous plants, numerous symbiotic bacteria develop on the roots of the soya plant. These bacteria fix nitrogen and as such make soya a rich source of high quality amino acids and proteins.
Glycine max (L.) Merr.
The origin of soya is uncertain, but the plant probably comes from the regions around China, Korea and Japan.
Proteins and essential amino acids: an important element of a balanced diet.
Oil (which, among other elements, contains α-linolenic acid): also an important element of a balanced diet.
Fibre: has a bifidogenic effect and contributes to healthy intestinal flora.
Phytosterols: reduce cholesterol.
Isoflavones (genistein and daidzein): have an oestrogenic and antioxidant effect.
Lecithin (phosphatidylcholine): has a hypocholesterolemiant effect, contributes to good brain function and reduces cardiovascular disorders.
Raw soya beans are toxic to humans and several animal species. Before being eaten, they must be treated with moist heat in order to destroy the trypsin inhibitors they contain. Trypsin is an enzyme produced by the pancreas, which makes it possible to digest the proteins. If soya tripsin inhibitors are not destroyed, they can hinder the digestion of vital proteins. Soya has been used as a legume since neolithic times. However, that is not its more important use. Soya is currently transformed into flour, oil, meat substitutes such as tofu, and is also the base of lactose-free soya milk and soya sauce. Soya is a satisfactory substitute for cereals and meat in gluten-free and vegetarian dishes. The germinated seeds can also be eaten. However, it is important to note that soyabean sprouts, which are often served in oriental dishes, do not come from soya beans, but from mung beans (vigna radiata) and are also known as ‘taugé’. Soya is a high-value edible plant, but it is also important for the manufacture of medicines. Moreover, the phytosterols provide the raw material for the production of most contraceptives and steroidal anti-inflammatories. The lecithin is used as a natural emulsifier in the preparation of creams, both culinary or cosmetic. In phytotherapy, soya is sometimes used to reduce cholesterol levels, but also to treat the symptoms of the menopause.
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The health claims relating to other nutrients or substances contained in our products that feature on our site are compliant with Regulation No. 432/2012 of the Commission of 16 May 2012 which establishes a list of authorised health claims authorised in relation to food products, other than those in reference to the reduction of the risk of disease as well as community-based development and child health (cf. website of the European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/nuhclaims/).