Components and Nutraceutical Characteristics of Soybean

Component

Proteins

Oligosaccharides

Isoflavones

Phytate

Characteristics

Contains 40% protein and all the essential amino acids that closely resemble the requirements of humans and animals; Digestibility is close to 1, similar to proteins of eggwhite and casein Contains 20% oil and is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic and linolenic acids, i.e., healthful oil Mature soybeans are mainly raffinose (0.1-0.9%) and stachyose (1.4-4.1%), whose presence is associated with the flatulence produced after human consumption; moreover, oligosaccharides are powerfull prebiotics and have been successfully commercialized in Japan for years 12 isomers of daidzein, genistein, and glycitein (aglycones), transformed to daidzin, genistin and glycitin after glucosilation; isoflavon content is 1-4 mg/g d.w.; isoflavones inhibit the growth of cancer cells, lower cholesterol levels, and inhibit bone resorption

Contains 1-1.47%; in vitro studies have demonstrated potential preventive effects of phytate against cancer and cardiovascular diseases

Source: Adapted from Liu (2000).24

composition of the intestinal microflora and thereby alters the transformation of primary bile acid to secondary bile acids. Secondary bile acids are presumed to be promoters of cell proliferation, which supports mutations and increases the frequency of replications of abnormal cells. Antioxidants may reduce the risk of cancer by preventing the production of or by scavenging reactive free radicals, or by enhancing the activity of detoxifying enzymes. Antioxidants include nutrients such as vitamins C, E, and P-carotene, and trace elements such as Se, Cu, Zn, and Mn, which are components of antioxidative enzymes, and nonnutrients such as phenolic compounds (phenolic acids, lignans). Cereals are rich in phenolic acids, approaching 500 mg/kg, which are mainly present in the outer layers of the grain. In wheat bran the major antioxidants are ferulic, vanillic, and p-coumaric acids. In addition, combinations of phenolic acids are claimed to have anticarcinogenic activities. Lignans and isofla-vonoids are phytoestrogens by their similarity with estrogens. Estrogens stimulate cell growth in breast cancer, whereas antiestrogens are reported to block estrogen-induced hypertrophic effects. Lignans have slightly estrogenic activity and it has been suggested that they may protect against estrogen-dependent cancer as does tamoxifen, one of the most successful drugs used to treat breast cancer.23

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