Found in everything from lip care products to vegetarian meals, this prolific legume is used in a myriad of ways.
In 2007, 80% of domestically produced biodiesel came from soybean oil.
What it is: A legume native to East Asia.
Where it comes from: Originally from East Asia, soybeans were grown as part of crop rotation due to their ability to add nitrogen into the soil. Cultivation has spread and the U.S. is currently the leading producer of soybeans. Properties: Bean pods are covered with fine hairs, and pods and seeds can vary in color. Soybeans are high in protein and vitamins A, E, and K. Oil is obtained by solvent extraction.
What it’s good for: Soy oil and its derivatives are natural antioxidants that block out harmful sunlight. It is said to help treat wrinkles, repair the skin, and improve elasticity. Soy can also be used to moisturize and protect dry skin.
Where you’ll find it: Anti-aging products, lip care products, mineral makeup, shampoos and conditioners, moisturizers, body oils, and soaps. It’s also found in many food products and is used for animal feed.
Other uses: Soy is a popular meat substitute for vegetarians due to its high protein content, but there is ongoing debate about its health hazards.