Soy products

List of soy derivatives

soy beans for food
Soy beans seeds for food


Soybean grains or soybean seeds

Soybean (Glycine max) is a legume that is primarily grown for food production, both for people and animals.

From soya plant, soybean seeds are obtained, also called soya seeds.

At first glance, it may seem that soy is planted only for seeds to be used directly as food.

However, only about 15% of this grain is used for human or animal consumption. The remaining 85% of the fruit of soybean is intended to be used for what it is known as soy derivatives (products derived from soy).

Soybean seeds have very outstanding health properties. They are very rich in complete protein, fiber, B vitamins -except vitamin B12-, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium, mainly.

It has been found that eating this food helps lower cholesterol, besides being very good for bones health and, among other properties, especially suitable to reduce symptoms of menopause.

Soybean grains for human consumption may be full, unhusked or untreated; or husked and precooked. In the first case they should be subjected to soak for about 12 hours and cooked for 60 minutes at least to make them edible.

Grains undergoing treatment are known as “pre-cooked soy“. The advantage of this type of food is that it is more digestive and does not require more than a half hour to be cooked.

* See: properties of soy beans


By means of grinding soybean grains, soybean meal and soybean oil are obtained. Of the total grain, two-thirds become soybean meal; the remaining part, oil. From these two products, the main soybean derivaties are obtained.

Among them, there are the following:

Soy milk

Soybean milk
Soybean milk

It is derived from soy beans.

Soymilk is made to drink alone or accompanied with fruit juice.

It is more digestible than milk product itself, since it does not contain lactose, therefore it is especially recommended for people who are lactose intolerant.

It is very good for bones because it contains a lot of calcium. It also helps eliminate cholesterol.

Soymilk has been considered a good alternative to the consumption of cow’s milk.

* See: properties of soy milk

Soybean meal

Soybean meal
Soybean meal

It is mainly used in making cakes, cookies and in addition for bread making.

In the latter case, it is mixed with wheat flour for the dough to have more volume and to whiten it. This way, a cleaner and more moldable bread is achieved.

Soybean meal is part of animal feed and in the composition of sausages and other food products

Soy lecithin

Photo of soy lecithin
Soy lecithin

It is obtained from crude oil, which comes from grinding soybeans seeds. Soy lecithin is a type of fat with proven medicinal properties, especially suitable to increase “good cholesterol“, which results in a reduction of “bad cholesterol“.

It has also proven its beneficial effects on the gallbladder and liver, respectively to prevent gallstones or fatty liver.

For its emulsifying properties, it is widely used in the food industry as an additive with the name of E-322. This appears in products such as chocolate, cakes, mayonnaise, baby milk, etc.

* See: properties of soy lecithin

Tofu or “soya cheese”

Tofu dish with soy sauce
Tofu dish with soy sauce

Tofu is a product made from soymilk, which, as mentioned above, is extracted by pressure from soybean seeds. Soymilk is curled with calcium chloride to obtain tofu.

Popularly it is known as “soya cheese” because of its color and texture, but its flavor and its properties are different.

As a result of its composition, and since it has been curdled with calcium chloride, tofu has plenty of calcium. It is especially rich in protein. It also contains lot of phosphorus and magnesium and B vitamins

Tofu should be cooked to make it edible.

* See: tofu properties

Tempeh or “soya meat”

Tempeh is the soy product obtained from the fermentation of soybeans by the fungus Rhizopus oligosporus. Within vegetarianism, it is considered as one of the best “vegetable meat”, both for its high protein content and its appearance, reminiscent of hamburger meat.

Tempeh dish with pasta
Tempeh dish with pasta

Unlike previous products, tempeh is already “predigested” by fermentation, therefore it does hot have so many antinutrients as other soy products that have not been cooked or fermented.

This makes this soy derivative much more digestible than others. At the same time, the fermentation makes soy isoflavones more available. This food is, therefore, better than previous to reduce the symptoms of menopause.

Tempeh, such as soy and tofu contains proteins of high biological value, that is to say, complete proteins or proteins will all essential amino acids.

* See: properties of tempeh

Soy miso

Miso is a food  paste obtained by the fermentation of soybeans. It is very rich in proteins and isoflavones. As the rest of fermented soy products, fermentation makes isoflavones easier to assimilate.

* See: properties of miso

Soy sauce

Soy sauce
Soy sauce

It is a sauce made from soybeans fermented with fungi Aspergillus sojae or Aspergillus oryzae, two fungi which are formed respectively on soy and on rice.

Authentic soy sauce is produce by a traditional method that is still compulsory in Japan. To do this, soybeans are introduced into a liquid, mixture of water and plenty of salt. To this mixture toasted rice flour or wheat is added. The natural process of fermentation lasts approximately one year.

This sauce is very rich in protein, but it contains a lot of salt, so it is not too recommended, especially for people with hypertension or fluid retention.

Currently, outside Japan most of these sauces are industrially manufactured. In the process chemicals are used, some of them very harmful to health.

* Related information:

Soy toxicity

Soy contraindications

Soy lecithin

punto rojo More information on soy and derivatives.

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

9 June, 2021

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