Nutritionists Recommend Regular Soybeans Consumption
By Ahmed Rahma
Due to the alarming rate of protein deficiency in Nigeria, nutritionists have advised Nigerians to regularly consume soybeans, a protein-rich food source, to prevent malnutrition.
Based on 2019 Nigeria Protein Deficiency Report, 51 per cent of Nigerians had a deficiency in protein intake because they could not afford adequate protein rich-foods.
One of the panellists at a recent event, Mrs Josephine Chukwunweike, who is a nutritionist, submitted that the growth of children from age zero to five is dependent on diet and way of life and not solely on genetics.
Recently, the Protein Challenge put together a webinar themed Nigeria’s Protein Deficiency Challenge: Soybeans to the Rescue and Mrs Chukwunweike, while emphasising the importance of protein in the human body, said, “Protein is widely regarded as an essential building block of life. It is a macro-nutrient found in literally every cell of the body. Macronutrients are foods that the body needs in large amounts. Protein is an important ingredient used to build, maintain and repair body tissues and muscles.”
“Soybeans consist of more than 36 per cent protein, 30 per cent carbohydrates, and excellent amounts of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. It also consists of 20 per cent oil, which makes it the most important crop for producing edible oil. A by-product from the oil production (soybean cake) is used as a high-protein animal feed in many countries,” she said.
Mrs Chukwunweike further revealed other products that soybeans can be used for which include, soymilk, soy cake, tofu and soybean oil.
According to her, children under five (5) should be given proteinous foods to build a healthy nation, noting that Nigeria’s workforce can only be productive when a substantial number of her population are healthy and productive.
She lamented that Nigeria is one of the largest producers of soybeans in Africa and yet most children from the north where the crop is produced in large quantity are still facing the problem of malnutrition and protein deficiency.
Mrs Chukwunweike thus called on the government to include soybeans flour in the making of staple foods to tackle protein deficiency in the country.
In his contribution, a community nutritionist with a speciality in Nutrition Education, Mr Charles Nkwoala, stressed the need to educate Nigerians on the benefits of consuming soybeans and other protein-rich foods.
He said “people do not go to a shop to buy protein, minerals, or vitamins but rather they buy foods”. So by consuming soybean that is very rich in protein, a high amount of protein has been consumed.
According to him, soybean should be diversified by creating more products with it. He added that the branding and packaging of soybeans are essential to help attract patronage from Nigerians.
“There is a need for collaboration. When you look at nutrition, government plays a significant role. I will like to see more involvement of NGOs, particularly in educating Nigerians on what protein deficiency is, because the government cannot do this alone,” he concluded.