Experts have said that soybean has a lot of nutritional and health benefits and its utilisation is important in tackling the burden of malnutrition in the country.
They stated this during a Protein Challenge Webinar with the theme “Nigeria’s protein deficiency challenge: Soybeans to the rescue.”
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Josephine Chukwunweike, a nutritionist and member of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), said that soybean was a very healthy and a cheap source of protein.
She said that women should be empowered on how best they could include the ‘golden legume’ creatively in meal planning in their homes.
She said, “Soybeans consist of more than 36 per cent protein, 30 per cent carbohydrates, and excellent amounts of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.
“It also has 20 per cent oil, which makes it the most important crop for producing edible oil.
A by-product from the oil production (soybean cake) is used as a high-protein animal feed in many countries.”
She revealed that soybean can be used in the production of soymilk, soy cake,tofu and soybean oil.
She urged the government to educate farmers on the appropriate methods in farming to increase the production of soybeans in the country.
“Just as the government insisted that cassava be compulsorily introduced to wheat flour for bread production, they could also instruct that soybean flour be used in producing some of our staples and snacks,” she added.
Professor Ibiyemi Olayiwola, a professor of human nutrition, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Bowen University, Iwo Osun State, stated that protein deficiency has led to a number of diseases among vulnerable groups such as wasting, stunting and underweight.
She said that protein is needed at different stages of life for growth, to boost the immune system and for energy.
“The biological value of soybean cannot be overlooked and should be integrated into most of our meals.
“Protein is the reason that soybeans have historically been called ‘meat of the field’ or ‘meat without bones’,” she said.
Professor Olayiwola enjoined people to be soy-centred by keeping soybean in the kitchen and consuming soy sauce, soy milk, tofu, soy meal, soy flour, and soybean oil daily.
Mr Charles Nkwoala, a community nutritionist with a specialty in Nutrition Education, said soybean should be diversified by creating more products with it. He said that there should be Community Nutrition Education on the benefits of soybean consumption.