Soybean Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Native to East Asia and grown in abundance in the American Midwest, soybeans are a staple food all around the world. In addition to serving as the base of innumerable foods, from tofu to tempeh to soy milk, soybeans can also be eaten all by themselves. These small-but-mighty beans are packed with protein and fiber, making them an ideal choice for plant-based meals and snacks.

Since one type of soybeans is sold and marketed under the name “edamame,” you may wonder about the difference between the two terms. Edamame is simply a form of whole, immature soybean, typically boiled and served in its pod. When soybeans are left on the plant to ripen, however, they harden and develop a yellow, brown, or black hue.

In recent years, there’s been increasing consumer concern about soy products’ effects on estrogen and how this might impact the risk of hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate cancer. However, the American Cancer Society (ACS) states that “the evidence does not point to any dangers from eating soy in people.” In fact, according to the ACS, the health benefits of eating soy foods appear to outweigh any potential risk.

Soybean Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of soybeans has been provided by the USDA.

Soybean Nutrition
Calories 172
Fat 9g
Sodium 1mg
Carbohydrates 8.3g
Fiber 6g
Sugars 3g
Protein 18g
Calcium 102mg
Iron 5.14mg
Potassium 515mg
Choline 47.5mg


About 30% of soybeans’ calories come from carbohydrates, and over two-thirds of these carbs are from fiber. The remaining carbs in soybeans come from naturally occurring sugars, such as sucrose and raffinose.


While soybeans are by no means a high-fat food, at 9 grams per 3.5 ounces, they do contain a notable amount of dietary fat. However, these fats are primarily the “good” kind; in a single serving, you’ll take in 2 grams of monounsaturated fat and 5 grams polyunsaturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends that the majority of the fats we eat be mono and polyunsaturated. Just over 1 gram of soybeans’ total fat is the saturated variety which has been linked to heart disease.

It’s always a best practice to check labels on soybeans, too. Many packaged varieties add oil for flavor, which will add to total fat.


Protein is where soybeans really shine. In a single serving, you’ll get 18 grams of this important macronutrient. If you’re worried that this plant-based protein doesn’t measure up to the animal kind, you can put these concerns to rest. Soy is one of a select group of plant-based foods that are considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs to get through food.

Vitamins and Minerals

Soybeans can add a number of micronutrients to your daily intake. The beans are rich in potassium, folate, magnesium, calcium, iron, and thiamin.


A 3.5 ounce (100 grams) serving of soybeans contains 172 calories, 42% of which come from protein, 47% from fat, and 19% from carbs (with rounding).


Soybeans are a nutrient-rich source of proteins and healthy fats that are very high in fiber. You will get a good dose of potassium, folate, magnesium, iron, and some B vitamins from adding soybeans to your diet.

Health Benefits

Soybeans are a nutritious food that provides various health benefits. Here is an overview of the potential health benefits.

Keeps You Full

You may not think of beans as a stick-to-your-ribs filling food, but with so much fiber and protein per serving, soybeans can easily keep hunger at bay for a long stretch. This satiation boost may even be beneficial for weight loss.

May Lower Cholesterol 

Some research suggests that soy products can lower LDL cholesterol (aka the “bad” kind) by a small percentage. However, it’s important to note that you’d probably need to eat quite a large amount of soy to make an impact.

Boosts Digestive Health

So much of gut health comes down to the amount of fiber we consume. Soybeans’ 6 grams of fiber per serving adds bulk to stool and creates a healthy environment for good bacteria to flourish in the digestive tract.

Compatible With Many Special Diets

Soybeans find their way comfortably into many specialized eating plans. People on low-sodium, Mediterranean, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, or vegan diets can all dish up these beans.

Protein Source for Vegans and Vegetarians 

Vegans and vegetarians—especially those new to these diets—may find getting enough protein a challenge. Soybeans can add to your daily dose with their high plant-based protein content. Finding high-quality plant-based protein sources can be more difficult as plant sources are not nearly as absorbable as meat sources and often do not contain all of the essential amino acids needed.

Soybeans are a source of quality protein suitable for plant-based diets. Unlike other plant proteins, soybeans are higher in protein than carbs, making them an ideal way to get a balanced source of protein.

May Reduce the Risk of Breast and Prostate Cancer

Though soy has had a controversial history when it comes to its connection with cancer, a body of research indicates the beneficial effects of soy in cancer prevention. A review of available research found that consuming soy-based foods was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

The review also concluded that eating more soy products might be associated with a small reduction in breast cancer risk. However, more research is needed to determine the exact relationship between soy and cancer.

May Help Prevent Bone Loss

Soy isoflavones may help prevent menopause-related bone loss that occurs due to a reduction of estrogen that occurs naturally after menopause. Soy isoflavones may help prevent bone loss and encourages bone density.

May Help Prevent Diabetes

Epidemiological studies show that a higher intake of dietary soy isoflavones positively correlates with a lower incidence of diabetes and increased insulin sensitivity. Soy isoflavones are considered antidiabetic, but the underlying reasons for this are unknown.

Some research indicates that the phenolic compounds in soy may inhibit enzymes that break down carbohydrates for use, leading to less of a blood sugar spike. These compounds can also help regulate glucose absorption.


Soy is among the most common food allergies. According to Food Allergy Research and Education, it’s especially prevalent in babies and kids, with 0.4% of children being allergic to soy. While some children will outgrow a soy allergy, for others, it’s a lifelong issue. If you have a soy allergy, you’ll need to avoid all varieties of soybeans.

Adverse Effects 

Despite soybeans’ excellent nutrition profile, they might not be right for some people. As high-fiber food, they can cause gas and abdominal discomfort. Those on a low-FODMAP diet may also need to steer clear of soybeans since they contain oligosaccharides called galactans that can aggravate IBS symptoms.


Though there are around 2,500 varieties of soybeans, you probably won’t see this many options at your local grocery store. Instead, you’ll likely see soybeans sold with simple descriptors such as “yellow” or “black” (or, of course, as edamame). Cooking instructions for different varieties of beans may vary, so follow package directions for best results.

Storage and Food Safety

Soybeans can be purchased frozen, canned, or dry. Keep frozen soybeans in the freezer until ready to use, and store canned and dry beans in a cool, dry place. Once cooked, be sure to refrigerate any leftover soybeans in an airtight container and use within three days.

How to Prepare

Name a cooking method and you can probably apply it to soybeans! The only way you can’t eat soybeans is raw, as they are not digestible in their raw form. Boiling, roasting, and steaming are all popular ways to prepare these beans.

It’s important to note, however, that dried soybeans need to be soaked prior to cooking, which can take several hours or up to overnight. Once soaked, boil them using three to four parts water per one part beans. Boiling takes about three hours to fully cook the beans.

For faster prep, try roasting. At 350 degrees, soybeans will take about 45 minutes to cook.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. USDA, FoodData Central. Soybeans.

  2. Rizzo G, Baroni L. Soy, soy foods and their role in vegetarian diets. Nutrients. 2018;10(1):43. doi:10.3390%2Fnu10010043

  3. Pabich M, Materska M. Biological effect of soy isoflavones in the prevention of civilization diseases. Nutrients. 2019;11(7):1660. doi:10.3390%2Fnu11071660

  4. Food Allergy Research & Education. Soy.

By Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a freelance health and wellness writer who runs a food blog.