There is no doubt that protein is an elementary component of our diet. It is a very important building block without which normal cell growth and growth would be impossible. Proteins of animal origin are considered to be wholesome proteins. The amino acid of vegetable proteins is different from animal proteins. However, what about people on a vegetarian and vegan diet? Legumes are the answer to their needs. Soy is one of their representatives. Do some say that the proteins contained in it match the quality of animal protein, but are you sure?

Soy, like broad bean and chickpeas, belongs to the family of Fabaceae. It is an extremely popular pod, which thanks to its values ​​, has gained the recognition of consumers. Soybeans are found in 16 species, the most commonly used of which is vegetable soybean (Glycine max). Soy is a plant commonly found in temperate and tropic climate, more often it can be found in the northern hemisphere than in the southern hemisphere. It can be found in the form of an annual plant and the form of perennials. Like other pods, it is a snaking or creeping plant. Soybean flowers are small and butterflies, vary in color depending on the variety. Fruits, or soybeans, are typical pods in which one to six small oval-shaped seeds can be found.

Soy – cultivation, soil requirements
Leading areas in global soy production are the United States. Smaller, though equally important soybean cultivations are carried out in Europe, including in our country. Aldana, Augusta, Progres, and Polan are the most popular cultivars in our country. Ideally, they bear fruit in our climate, they give rich crops and most importantly – they do not differ from the other varieties by their nutritional and taste value.

When it comes to soil requirements, soy belongs to quite demanding plants. It is best found on permeable and well-aerated soils. It also grows well in clay, brown and black soil. Soy should not be grown on sour, compacted soil with a thin layer of humus.

Soy protein – nutritional and health properties
Of all legumes, soy is distinguished by its high nutritional values. About 100% of vegetable protein and 20% of fat is found in 100 g of dry seeds. Due to the relatively high content of fatty acids, soy is considered to be high-energy food, and 100 g of soy is 385 kcal. In addition, soybeans are an excellent source of B vitamins and many minerals, including magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium.

Soy protein is known for its high nutritional value. The amino acid sequence corresponds to the nutritional needs of humans and animals. It is also very well accepted and digested by our digestive system. Soy protein from other plant proteins is distinguished by a higher content of lysine. Unfortunately, its nutritional value is reduced by a poor concentration of methionine. It is believed that small addition of exogenous methionine to nutrients improves the nutritional value of soy protein.

Soy protein is often compared to whey protein, i.e. obtained from cow’s milk, but they differ in many respects. The first difference between both products is the biological value of the protein. This parameter determines the amount of nutritional protein used by our body, the higher it is, the better the protein is used. In comparison with whey protein, BV = 104, soy protein is characterized by a lower biological value, BV = 74.

During digestion, soy protein undergoes many chemical changes – one of the most important is the gradual release of biologically active peptides. These compounds have the character of nutraceuticals, i.e. food substances combining high nutritional value and characteristics of pharmaceuticals. They attribute health-related activities to them. They affect the regulation of the body’s lipid metabolism (TG, total cholesterol, LDL), reduce the risk of developing overweight and obesity, and are true scavengers of free radicals. Nutraceuticals contained in soy protein are thermostable, therefore they do not lose their exceptional value even after a long thermal treatment.

Soy protein – use in nutrition
Soy protein has been used in the food industry for many years. Thanks to its low price (it is 5 times cheaper than whey protein and 10 times cheaper than meat protein) they are often used as a substitute for meat proteins. An interesting fact is that the use of soy protein instead of meat or milk proteins has become common in the butchery, cured meat and milk industry. Soy protein due to its values ​​and texture can be used as a filler in sausages, sausages, patties, burgers, it is even used in the production of sweets and bread. If we look closely at the labels of frequently purchased products, we will surely find soy protein as one of their components.

Unfortunately, such wide use of soy protein in food production has caused that manufacturers are increasingly using genetically modified soy. The result of such actions is to increase the frequency of food allergies.

Genetically modified soy differs in composition from traditionally sour soy. In addition, it is also less susceptible to digestive enzymes, which may contribute to the intensification of allergic reactions. That is why it is very important to correctly label food products. Soybeans, which we are more and more often allergic to, should be marked not only as a protein but above all as a food allergen.

Soy protein – used in supplementation
Soy protein is used as an ingredient in numerous dietary supplements and protein supplements. It is believed that a well-chosen protein supplement is an important part of a slimming diet and a wisely planned reduction. Soy protein is valued at the stage of reducing body fat due to its low glycemic index and high arginine content, it improves insulin sensitivity. If we compare the effects of soy and whey protein in terms of reduction and building muscle mass, the whey protein falls out much better. Consumers believe that it has a better taste and gives more visible results. Research also shows that the use of soy protein can have a direct effect on the potency and fertility of men. It has often been proven that supplements containing soy protein reduce the concentration of testosterone.

The use of whey protein is safer for us and brings better results. It is worth remembering, however, that soy protein preparations are a good dietary supplement and bring in many valuable ingredients for health. When choosing the right protein for you, let’s take into account the needs of our body and our tastes. If we are not sure which protein will be best for us, it is worth consulting your choice with a supplement specialist or dietitian.

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