Soybean ( Glycine max , L.) has been part of Southeast Asia culture for almost 2 millennia. However, only in the second half of the 19th century has it started being used in the Western world coinciding with the Chinese migration to the USA. Today, USA, South America, especially Brazil, and Northwestern Europe, account for almost 90% of the world total soybean production. At first, the nutrition value of soybean was attributed to its high quality protein content thus attracting considerable interest for its use in human diet. Nowadays, it is known that soybeans are a rich source of phytochemicals, and many of those compounds have important beneficial effects on human and animal health.
Among the important phytochemicals in soybeans for human health, phytoestrogens, mainly, isoflavones (genistein and daidzein) and lignans, are the most widely studied. Nevertheless, saponins and phytosterols have also been the subject of research on soybeans. This chapter will discuss these phytochemicals compounds, their chemical structures, and their relationship with the major biological functions, scientifically proved, and their health benefits.
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Jocelem Mastrodi Salgado and Carlos M. Donado-Pestana (September 12th 2011). Soy as a Functional Food, Soybean and Nutrition, Hany El-Shemy, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/22378. Available from: Soy as a Functional Food | IntechOpen