All About Soya Beans: Nutrition and health Benefits

By Frank Marful-Sau, RD, LD, MPH | May 28, 2023

Soya beans (Glycine max) is a versatile and a highly nutritious legume which is consumed by various populations around the world but most commonly in East Asia where it has been cultivated and consumed as a staple food for many years. In Ghana soya is mainly produced and consumed in the Northern part of the country. It is also transported to southern Ghana for processing for commercial purposes such as production of tom brown, soya beans khebab, soymilk, etc. Soya beans belong to the pea family and come in various colors including; green, black, and yellow soya beans. Soya bean may be eaten in its whole, and several highly processed varieties are available. It can be used in making variety of products such as tom brown, soymilk, soy bean oil, soy sauce, tofu and tempeh. Due to its numerous health advantages and an increase in vegetarian lifestyle, its popularity has risen recently on a global scale (1). In this article, the nutritional component and health benefit of soya bean will be discussed.

Soya bean and nutrition

The nutritional components of soya bean includes high-quality proteins (around 40%), polyunsaturated fatty acids (18%) and the only legume that provides ample amounts of the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, carbohydrates (mainly sucrose, stachyose, and raffinose), and dietary fibers (soluble and insoluble) makes it an excellent source of nutrients for all, especially vegetarians who might find it difficult to meet their daily protein requirements (2). Unlike other plant proteins, soya bean is considered a complete protein and has all nine essential amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) that the human body requires for healthy functioning. Aside its rich protein contents, soya bean is high in minerals such as magnesium, iron, potassium, and is a good source of vitamin K which is crucial for bone health. Soya bean is also rich in vitamin B6 and folate, and abundant in antioxidants, which aids in defending the body from harm caused by dangerous molecules known as free radicals.

Soya bean and health

Various studies have been done around the globe to investigate the potential benefit of soya bean consumption for health of different populations. Its capacity to reduce cholesterol levels is among its most well-known advantages. It has been demonstrated that isoflavones found in soya bean helps to reduce blood levels of low density lipoproteins cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, strokes and coronary heart disease (2, 3). As the primary nutritional components of soya bean, soya bean isoflavones and soya bean protein have also been shown to lower oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are thought to contribute to the etiology of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cancers, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease among populations such as women and men (4). Soya bean’s rich dietary fiber contents helps improve digestive function, reduces constipation by adding bulk to stool and is helpful in reducing risk of certain cancers and body mass index.

Another potential health benefit of soya bean consumption is its effect on menopausal women. Various studies have shown that a high consumption of soya bean pre-menopause, during adolescence and childhood helps reduce incidence of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, as well as risk of breast cancers in women (5).

It should be noted that some few people may be allergic to soya bean, and others may worry about how it may affect their hormone levels (6). However, for the majority of people, consuming soya bean as part of a balanced diet is safe and has many advantages.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, soya bean has many beneficial properties for the heart and brain. It has been scientifically proven to have hypocholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, known to reduce symptoms of menopause, improve digestive functions and reduce body mass index. Nutritionally, soya beans is a great, affordable super protein source for everyone, containing all essential amino acids the body needs for functioning. It is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.


  1. Rizzo G, Baroni L. Soy, Soybean Foods and Their Role in Vegetarian Diets. Nutrients. 2018;10(1).
  2. Ramdath DD, Padhi EM, Sarfaraz S, Renwick S, Duncan AM. Beyond the Cholesterol-Lowering Effect of Soybean Protein: A Review of the Effects of Dietary Soybean and Its Constituents on Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients. 2017;9(4).
  3. Messina M. Soybean and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature. Nutrients. 2016;8(12).
  4. Hu S, Liu C, Liu X. The Beneficial Effects of Soybean Proteins and Peptides on Chronic Diseases. Nutrients. 2023;15(8).
  5. Rizzo G, Feraco A, Storz MA, Lombardo M. The role of Soybean and Soybean isoflavones on women's fertility and related outcomes: an update. J Nutr Sci. 2022;11:e17.
  6. Messina M, Duncan A, Messina V, Lynch H, Kiel J, Erdman JW, Jr. The health effects of soy: A reference guide for health professionals. Front Nutr. 2022;9:970364.


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