Soya protein is one of the concentrates isolated from the soya bean, made from soya bean meal which has had the hull and fats removed. The concentrate retains much of the original soya bean's fibre and forms a nutritional ingredient of many processed foods, mainly breakfast cereals, baked goods and some meat products. It is also available as a concentrated protein supplement, usually enriched with additional minerals such as calcium and iron.
Soya protein has greatly increased in popularity for health food products, and in many regions a health claim for it, as being contributory to reducing cholesterol levels and promoting good heart health, is legally permitted. Soya protein is an especially important food source for vegans and vegetarians, as it contains all the nine essential amino acids required to make it a nutritionally complete protein.
Soya protein supplements can offer additional benefits in particular to women, owing to their containing isoflavones, many of which function in mammals as plant oestrogens or phyto-oestrogens. These bond with oestrogen receptors in the body, where they may assist in enhancing oestrogen levels for menopausal women, counteracting symptoms such as hot flushes, and may help to improve cognitive function.