Although unconfirmed, it is believed that the plant derives from a Chinese legume: Glycine ussuriensis. The plant can grow up to two metres in height with self-fertilising flowers. Most commercial varieties have brown seeds with four seeds per pod.
Soya has been eaten and cultivated in China since 2,800B.C. and it was considered one of the five essentials for living.
During the 18th century, missionaries sent soya beans back to Europe; one of the earliest widespread uses of the bean was a cheap source of protein during the First World War.
Today, USA is the main grower of soya and over 90% of the crop is used for animal feed. A whole soya industry has developed around the bean and various materials derived from it are widespread today e.g. Miso, soy sauce, tamari, tempeh, T.V.P. and tofu.
Soya oil is processed from the shelled seeds of soya; it is a clear, bright, pale-yellow liquid.
Soya oil is made up mainly of linoleic (omega 6) and oleic (omega 9) acids. It also contains some linolenic (omega 3) and saturated fatty acids. It is used primarily as cooking oil and to make margarine, but it has several other commercially valuable uses. There are some studies showing that consuming soya oil could be a good alternative to fish oil.
In cosmetics, soya oil acts as an antioxidant and it also conditions hair and skin. We have used soya oil in our Jasmin and Henna Fluff-Eaze hair moisturiser for its deeply conditioning qualities.
Soya oil has a rich, moisturising texture. It can be used to thicken the texture of a product and as carrier oil in aromatherapy. Our The Soft Touch body butter and Lemony Flutter cuticle butter both contain soya oil for its antioxidant effect on the skin.