Soybeans have been grown in China for over 5000 years. The plants were used as a nitrogen producing cover crop a way of naturally adding nutrients back to the soil once a food crop has been harvested.
In addition to use as a cover crop the Chinese fermented the beans and made soy sauce, miso and meat substitute similar to tempeh. The soybean as well as these products were soon adopted by other Asian cultures.
Soybeans were introduced in the U.S. by Samuel Bowen in 1765. Bowen had visited China and brought the beans back where he cultivated them in a area close to Savannah Georgia. Bowen even produced soy sauce and shipped it to the enthusiastic gourmets in England.
Unlike other legumes, soy is very high in protein and lower in carbohydrates. This makes soy a natural dietary replacement for animal protein.
Article from NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Antioxidant compounds found in soy foods have been shown to reduce levels of hormones associated with breast cancer risk in women. Now, the results of a small study suggest that other factors associated with soy may also play a role in lowering cancer risk
There is increasing evidence that too much soy can increase cancer growth in cancer patience and it may increase the incidence of thyroid problems among other health problems.
Once again we have to say "READ LABELS". The best defense is to simply eat fresh and avoid packaged or prepared foods. If that does not fit into your lifestyle then you need to really pay attention to the ingredient labels. Avoid soy fillers, soy oils, and hydrolyzed soy protein.