Family • Leguminosae - Glycine max (L.) Merr. - SOYBEAN - Ta Tou

Scientific names

Glycine max (L.) Merr.
Glycine hispida Maxim.
Glycine soja Sieb. and Zucc.
Dolichos soja  Linn.
Phaseolus max Linn
Soja hispida  Moench.
Soja max Piper

Common names

Balatong (Tag.)
Utau (Tag.)
Soya (Tag.)
Soybean (Engl.)
Ta Tou (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

ARABIC: Fûl sûyah.
BURMESE : Lasi, Pengapi, Peryatpym.
CHINESE: Da dou, Huang dou, Huang da dou, Mao dou.
FRENCH : Haricot soja, Soja, Pois soja.
GERMAN: Sojasüsbohne.
ITALIAN : Soia, Fava soja, Soja.
KHMER : Sândaèk sieng, Sândaèk an gen sar.
LAOTIAN : Thwàx khôn, Thwàx tê.
SINHALESE : Boo mae.
THAI: Thua lueang (Thuaa leuuang), Thua phra lueang, Thua rae.
TURKISH : Soya lubyasi, Çin lubyasi.
VIETNAMESE : Dâu tuong, Dâu nành, Quantan.

Soya is a stout and suberect annual plant growing to a height of less than a meter. Stems are densely clothed with fine feruginous hairs. Leaves are long-petioled, with 3 leaflets, oval, 5 to 10 centimeters long. Racemes have few flowers which are congested. Calyx is densely hairy, about 7 millimeters long, with long teeth. Corolla is reddish, and a little exserted. Pods are linear-oblong, 2 to 3 in each axil of leaf, 4 to 5 centimeters long, recurved and densely hairy, containing 2 to 4 oblong to subglobose seeds.


– Introduced.
– Domesticated in southeastern Asia more than 3,000 years ago for its pods and seeds.
– Cultivated in some parts of the Philippines.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings


(1) Efficacy and safety of a phytoestrogen preparation derived from (L.) Merr in climacteric symptomatology: A multicentric, open, prospective and non-randomized trial 


(3) Investigation of Antihyperglycemic Activity of Glycine max (L.) Merr. on Serum Glucose Level in Diabetic Mice / Sachin L Badole and Subhash L Bodhankar / Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine: Vol. 6 : Iss. 1, Article 4. • DOI: 10.2202/1553-3840.1207

(4) Effect of isoflavone extracts from Glycine max on human endothelial cell damage and on nitric oxide production / Paulo, Michele et al /Menopause: May/June 2009 – Volume 16 – Issue 3 – pp 539-544 / doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31818d6349

(5) Identification of the Potent Phytoestrogen Glycinol in Elicited Soybean (Glycine max) / Stephen Boue et al / / Endocrinology, doi:10.1210/en.2008-1235 / Endocrinology Vol. 150, No. 5 2446-2453

(6) Comparative Study on Iron Release from Soybean (Glycine max) Seed Ferritin Induced by Anthocyanins and Ascorbate / Jianjun Deng, Jianjun Cheng, Xiayun Liao et al / J. Agric. Food Chem., 2010, 58 (1), pp 635–641 / DOI: 10.1021/jf903046u

(7) Glycine max / Soybean / EOL / Encyclopedia of Life

(8) Sorting Glycine names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(9) Chemomodulatory potential of Glycine max against murine skin and cervical papillomagenesis. / Singh, M, Mendez E, Rao A Ramesha, Kale R K / Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Nov 2011


Agri info
• One of the world’s most useful plant; and considered by some as the world’s most important legume crop.
• Total commercial production of soybeans in 2010 was 261.6 million metric tons worldwide, harvested from 102.4 million hectares (2% of the world’s agricultural land), with the U.S. producing just over one third of the world total.


• Contains a fixed oil, 14-22&; protein, 50%; carbohydrates, 16.2%; diastase, urease, lipase, allantoinase, peroxidase, pentosan, sojasterol, sitosterin, and phasin.
• The two primary isoflavones are daidzein and genistein; others are puerarin, genistin and daidzin.
• Soybean proteins have two major components: beta-conglycinin (vicilin class) and glycinin (legumin class), accounting for 390-40% of total seed proteins.

• Considered astringent, carminative, and quieting.
• Dried sprout considered laxative, resolvent, and constructive.
• Root considered astringent.



Parts used
Leaves, flowers, oil.

Edibility / Nutritional
– Typically consumed as a protein drink, soy flour, soy protein, extract, fiber, cereal or milk beverage.
– Staple article of food in China and Japan.
– “Tokua” as food and” toyo” as flavoring are made from the beans.
– Tokua is remarkable for its content of protein and fat and low proportion of carbohydrates when compared to beans.
– Soy milk is considered a substitute for human milk, and used in making ice-cream and flan.
– Soybean is a good source of vitamins A and B; the sprouts have good vitamin C content.
– Soybeans and soy foods are considered the best dietary sources of isoflavones.

• Bruised leaves applied to snake bites.
• Flowers used for blindness and corneal opacities.
• Green bean hulls chewed to a pulp are applied to smallpox ulcers, corneal ulcers and excoriations in children from urine.
• Black beans are considered to provide vigor and strength, and considered a counter poison against most vegetable poisons, ie., Aconite and Croton tiglii.
• Dried sprouts believed to be beneficial for hair growth and curative for ascites and rheumatism.
• Dried sprouts, without the hulls, are considered laxative, resolvent, and constructive.
• Oil used for ulcers and skin diseases, and for removing bandoline from the hair.

Study Findings
• Cholesterol lowering: Soy protein in the diet can help decrease total and LDL cholesterol with no significant effect on HDL.
• Anti-diarrheal: Soy formula for infants and young children decreased bowel movements and days of diarrhea.
• Menopause: May be beneficial in reducing menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes. A study in Spain of 190 postmenopausal women on isoflavone-rich soy preparation (PHYTO SOYA) showed significant improvement in menopausal symptoms associated with lack of estrogen.
• Anti-Cancer: Some studies are conflicting as to whether supplements can increase or decrease the risk of breast cancer. The isoflavone genistein in animal cancer studies have shown anticancer effects: anti-angiogenesis, tyrosine-kinase inhibition, or apoptosis. However, genistein has been reported to increase growth of pancreatic tumor cells in the lab.
• Diabetes: Functional components associated with ameliorating T2DM: beta-sitosterol (antilipemic), genisterin and daidzein (lipase inhibitory), glycitein and soyasaponin A3, A4, A5, A6 and soyasaponin V (lipoxygenase inhibitory), soyasaponin A1 and A2 and stigmasterol (antilipemic).
• Antihyperglycemic: Extracts from the seeds of G max were evaluated for antihyperglycemic activity. Results conclude that the aqueous extract, but not the petroleum ether and alcoholic extracts, showed antihyperglycemic activity.
• Anti-Arthritic: A study of G max for antiarthritic activity showed reversal of paw volume, biochemical, hematological and histological parameters. Further investigation is suggested to identify the compounds responsible for the antiarthritic activity.
• Isoflavone / Antioxidant: Study showed soy extracts activate NO synthesis in endothelial cells and protect against cell damage. The soy isoflavones potentially act as a NO promoter and as an antioxidant.
• Antinociceptive / Anti-Inflammatory: Study showed ethanolic extracts of G max and R nulubilis seeds tested possessed antinociceptive and antiinflammatory activities.
• Potent Phytoestrogen Glycinol: Study of a novel isoflavone, glycinol, showed potent estrogenic activity and may represent an important component of the health effects of soy-based foods.
• Antibacterial / Anticancer: Study evaluated various extracts of four trifoliate plants: Glycine max (control), Cajanus cajans, Phaseolus vulgaris and Tecoma stans for bioactivities. The chloroform extract showed the best antibacterial activity; the methanol extracts, the best anticancer activity.
• Chemomodulatory / Anticancer: Study evaluated the chemopreventive potential of Glycine max against DMBA-induced skin and MCA-induced cervical pappilomagenesis in Swiss albino mice. Results showed G. max provided chemoprevention by modulating the detoxifying and antioxidative enzymes.

• Allergies: Like milk, eggs, peanuts, fish and wheat, may act as a food allergen. Symptoms are can be varied, from runny nose to hypotension.
• Side Effects: Soy protein may cause gastrointestinal intolerance – bloating, nausea, constipation. Infants fed with soy protein formula may develop vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal bleeding, colitis, atopic eczema and thyroid abnormalities.
• Estrogen Effects: Because of concerns on estrogen-like effects, its use is discouraged in patients with hormone-sensitive cancers (breast, ovarian, uterine).

Commercial cultivation.
Extracts and miscellany of soy food products and supplements in the cybermarket.