Use of soy for human consumption

Use of soy for human consumption

Soy has been grown for thousands of years in Asia, where the grain is eaten whole and is also used as an ingredient in tofu (soy cheese) and soy sauce (soy sauce). However, most soy is consumed indirectly. Today, most of the soybeans are ground and transformed into a protein-rich meal, which has become, along with corn, the nutritional base of farm animals and companions.

Soy oil is used for cooking, to make margarine and other consumer goods, including cosmetics and soaps. But soy oil is also increasingly used as a biofuel. In summary, soy derivatives, such as emulsifying lecithin, are used in a wide variety of industrialized foods, including chocolate, ice cream and bakery products.


Soy is a source of both protein and energy: about 40% of the weight of the soybean seed is protein and 20% is vegetable oil. Therefore, soybeans produce more protein per hectare than any other large crop and have a higher percentage of protein than various animal products. The dry soy bean contains 35.9 grams of protein per 100 g. For comparison, cheese is 34.2 g and pork is 21.1 g.

The whole soybean can be consumed as a vegetable, or it can be crushed and incorporated in the form of tofu (soy cheese), tempeh (fermented soy cheese, of a firmer consistency than tofu), soy milk and, still , soy sauce (soy sauce). About 2% of the bran is then processed to make soy flour and protein additives. However, soy is used as an ingredient in many bakery products, baked and fried, in margarine and frying fat, and is also bottled as cooking oil. Soy lecithin is one of the most common additives in processed foods and is found in just about everything from chocolate bars to smoothie drinks (liquid yogurt with fruit pulp or juice).

Some soy derivatives:


Product also known as soy sauce, it is one of the most important fermented products of the oriental tradition. It is a dark brown liquid, obtained from the fermentation of soy with wheat or other cereal or starchy, salty flavor, with a characteristic and pleasant aroma of meat extract, used as a flavoring or nutritional component in many oriental dishes. There are two ways to obtain shoyo, by chemical fermentation and natural fermentation. Natural fermentation has been used for centuries and is a method very similar to the fermentation of beer and wines.


Miso is a mass resulting from the fermentation of soy with salt, which may or may not contain rice. The product has a pasty consistency and is used in soups and as a seasoning for various preparations. There are several types of miso, varying in color and salt content. Colors range from whitish to dark brown and red. When whitish it is called pale miso. As for the salt content, if it is present with more than 10% it is considered a salty miso, below that it is sweet because it is rich in sugars.


It is obtained by fermenting cooked soy with some specific bacteria such as B. subtilis (B. natto). It has a smell similar to that of ammonia and a consistency similar to that of mucus, which makes it a product that divides opinions, even among people who have grown up consuming it. It is considered a superfood and is linked to the longevity of Japanese people.


It is a traditional Indonesian food. The food is the result of soy fermentation with strains from different Rhizopus strains and can be made with other grains as well. This food has a high protein content, and is most commonly eaten fried, boiled or roasted. Its flavor depends directly on the grains used for its production.


This is also known as Japanese cheese, being obtained by the action of a fungus on the clots of the soy drink (The “tofu”). The tofu, which is the raw material for the sufu, is rich in moisture, and for the production of the sufu, the tofu undergoes a pressing process until it loses much of the moisture. Finally, it can be introduced into the aging brine.


It has a firm texture similar to that of cheese and serves as another alternative to meat, delicate flavor, creamy white color and comes in the form of a white block. It is originally from China, but also very common in Japanese and Korean food. The manufacturing process from the soy drink. It has a lot of humidity.


Lecithin is obtained by degumming the crude oil. This is commonly done by hydration and separation of the precipitate by centrifugation, as follows: Phosphatides, proteins and other colloidal components are soluble in the crude oil. When water or saturated steam is added to the oil, these materials hydrate and increase in weight, separating from the mass of the oil in the form of clots, easily agglomerated and separable by centrifugation. After a few more processes, commercial soya lecithin is obtained, which is widely used in the human food industry, from chocolate, powdered milk to margarines and another variety of uses.

Textured soy protein

Also wrongly known as “soy meat”, textured soy protein or soy meat is a food product, obtained industrially through thermoplastic extrusion. It has a protein content of over 50%, making it an option for vegetarians. It is obtained industrially through the thermoplastic extrusion of defatted soy flour. In this process, soy is subjected to a controlled heat treatment, under high pressure and high shear forces, where physical-chemical changes occur. These conditions transform the material, giving it its final characteristics to be commercialized.

Soy extract

The soy extract is the product obtained from the aqueous emulsion resulting from the hydration of the soy beans, conveniently cleaned, followed by adequate technological processing, with or without the addition of optional permitted ingredients, which may be subjected to dehydration, in whole or in part. It is called by many soy drink, but the extract itself can be powdered.

In addition to those mentioned there is a wide range of alternatives.


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