The delicious, slightly nutty flavored soy bean has been cultivated in China for over 13,000 years but the good â€œnewsâ€� about soyâ€™s culinary versatility and exceptional health benefits is a relatively recent phenomenon in the West. Different varieties of this truly amazing legume are available throughout the year. The soybean is the most widely grown and utilized legume in the world and one of the most well researched, health-promoting foods available today. Like other beans, soybeans grow in pods, featuring edible seeds. While we most often think of them as being green, the seeds can also be yellow, brown or black. Soybeans are regarded as equal in protein quality to animal foods. Just one cup of soybeans provides 57.2% of the Daily Value (DV) for protein for less than 300 calories and only 2.2 grams of saturated fat. Plus, soy protein tends to lower cholesterol levels, while protein from animal sources tends to raise them. In addition to healthy protein, some of soybeans' nutritional high points include a good deal of well-absorbed iron: 49.1% of the DV for iron in that same cup of soybeans; plus 37.0% of the DV for Nature's relaxant, magnesium; and 41.2% of the DV for essential omega-3 fatty acids. Soy protein has been found in recent years to be excellent for a number of different conditions, one of the most important ones being heart disease. Soy protein has been shown in some studies to be able to lower total cholesterol levels by 30% and to lower LDL, or â€œbadâ€� cholesterol, levels by as much as 35-40%. This is important because high levels of cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, tend to become deposited into the walls of blood vessels, forming hard plaques. If these plaques grow too large or break, they can cause a heart attack or stroke.