Soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) is undoubtedly the most important food legume today, being a major source of protein and extracted oil. Soybean is believed to have originated in eastern Asia as a subtropical plant, but plant breeders have helped develop varieties adapted to several climatic zones. The crop is grown in many countries, but more than 70% of the world's production comes from the United States, Brazil, and China. Most soybeans are harvested as dry seed; a typical variety contains 20% seed oil and 35% protein (although some varieties can be as high as 45% protein). Both soy oil and soy protein isolate are found as ingredients in many processed foods. In eastern Asia, the immature seed is also harvested extensively and used as a vegetable.
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