In honor of African American Month, I am inclined to recognize another amazing
nutritional contribution provided by Dr. George Washington Carver. In 1870 the
soybean plant was popularized in America for livestock feed. In 1904, Dr. Carver
discovered soybeans as a valuable contributor of nitrogen and other minerals to the soil,
improving the overall soil quality to produce premium peanuts, soybeans, cotton, and
the nutritious sweet potatoes.
While American farmers were utilizing the amazing soybean as feed for cattle,
soybeans were also being used for food as early as 1899 by the Chinese in San
Francisco. Literature supports the use of tofu, deep-fried tofu, and soy sauce as early
as 1899. The first consumption of tofu was the beginning of soy products Vegans and
meat eaters enjoy today. Let’s take note of some of the health benefits obtained from
the Amazing Soybean:
- May aid in the lowering of Cholesterol by decreasing LDL by 4% and increasing
HDL with an average intake of 47 grams per day. The effect was seen only in
the consumption of whole foods containing Soy, not in soy supplements.
- Soy may also modestly lower blood pressure.
- Soy improves symptoms in menopause. Soy contains Isoflavones a type of
phytoestrogen, which acts as a weak form of natural estrogen of which data has
shown relieve symptoms of hot flashes. Approximately 50 mg of soy isoflavones
a day required in the study, which is equivalent to two servings of traditional soy
- Whole and Fermented (soy sauce) when ingested by Asian women has shown a
29% reduction in breast cancer risk. However, the study indicated to achieve this
benefit soy consumption has to occur during childhood and or adolescence.
- Soy has been shown to improve overall skin health in the areas of skin elasticity,
pigmentation, and vascularity.
- Soy may reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men. Even though isoflavones are
classified as phytoestrogens evidence base data has shown it will not feminize
- Soy protein also increases muscle mass and strength in men undergoing
resistance exercise training that is equal to whey protein.
Thanks to the knowledge and skills of Dr. George Washington Carver soybeans are the
most abundant crop grown on U.S. soil today. The use of polyunsaturated soybean oil,
and soy products inclusive of soy sauce and miso, tofu, soymilk, edamame, soy flour,
and tempeh, are now part of our everyday lives.