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Health Benefits of Soybeans

Soybeans contain several chemicals with health benefits, including the antioxidant lutein. While it’s not an essential nutrient for humans, lutein has been associated with eye, skin, and heart health.

Soybeans generally are not considered a major source of lutein; however, concentrations of the chemical suggest that it could represent a dietary lutein source in some Asian countries, where soybeans are an important food crop. Increasing the lutein level in soybeans have now become a priority for some breeding programs.

Researchers at McGill University, the Centre de Recherche sur les Grains, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Quebec have studied the impact crop management practices and cultivar selection have on lutein concentrations in soybean grown in multiple environments.

Their study was funded by research grants from the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries, et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Results from the study are published in the May-June 2011 issue of Crop Science.

Almost all crop management practices investigated affected soybean lutein concentrations in most of the environments. The seeding date had the greatest effect on concentrations of the chemical, with differences in lutein concentration averaging 41%. Seeding rate, row spacing, and fertilization effects were moderate, never exceeding an 8% difference between treatments. Scientists were able to identify soybean genotypes with high and stable lutein concentrations.

"This suggests that the selection and development of high lutein cultivars should be possible," said Philippe Seguin, McGill University professor and author of this study. Additionally, environmental factors and crop management practices should be considered in the production and use of soybean as a lutein source.

Research is ongoing to identify the specific factors that affect soybean lutein concentration. This research will could help expand the markets for soybean producers.

The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at

Crop Science is the flagship journal of the Crop Science Society of America. Original research is peer-reviewed and published in this highly cited journal. It also contains invited review and interpretation articles and perspectives that offer insight and commentary on recent advances in crop science. For more information, visit

The Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), founded in 1955, is an international scientific society comprised of 6,000+ members with its headquarters in Madison, WI. Members advance the discipline of crop science by acquiring and disseminating information about crop breeding and genetics; crop physiology; crop ecology, management, and quality; seed physiology, production, and technology; turfgrass science; forage and grazinglands; genomics, molecular genetics, and biotechnology; and biomedical and enhanced plants.

CSSA fosters the transfer of knowledge through an array of programs and services, including publications, meetings, career services, and science policy initiatives. For more information, visit

Sara Uttech | Newswise Science News
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