Narrator: This is Science Today. A diet rich in soy has been linked to lower cholesterol and cancer rates, but only about five percent of soybean production in this country is used for human consumption. Ben de Lumen, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, says although soy has been a staple in Asian culture for centuries, here soybeans are used mostly in animal feed.
De Lumen: When soybean was imported into this country, the idea was really to extract the oil and after they extracted the oil, they didn't know what to do with the residue. So they started throwing it to the pigs and the pigs grew very well. So that's how they discovered that this would be a great source of protein for livestock.
Narrator: In humans, De Lumen and his colleagues found soy has an anti-cancer effect, while others have found soy lowers cholesterol. Still, it may take a while for people to catch on.
De Lumen: It's really difficult to change the eating habits of people. People eat food for enjoyment; they really don't eat food for nutrition. The challenge to people promoting soybean would have to make it more attractive to people not used to eating it.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.