The soybean in North America, also called the soya bean in Europe (Glycine max), is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses. The plant is classed as an oilseed rather than a pulse by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Fat-free (defatted) soybean meal is a significant and cheap source of protein for animal feeds and many packaged meals; soy vegetable oil is another product of processing the soybean crop. For example, soybean products such as textured vegetable protein (TVP) are ingredients in many meat and dairy analogues. Soybeans produce significantly more protein per acre than most other uses of land.
Traditional nonfermented food uses of soybeans include soy milk, from which tofu and tofu skin are made. Fermented foods include soy sauce, fermented bean paste, natto, and tempeh, among others. The oil is used in many industrial applications. The main producers of soy are the United States (36%), Brazil (36%), Argentina (18%), China (5%) and India (4%). The beans contain significant amounts of phytic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and isoflavones.
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