Anti-nutritional effects of soyabean: a review

Prog Food Nutr Sci. 1989;13(3-4):317-48.


Inclusion of raw soyabean in diets considerably inhibits the growth of young animals. This is due to interference with normal gut and systemic metabolism, particularly of pancreas, liver and muscle. Pancreatic hypertrophy and hyperplasia occur in the young of a number of species given soyabean. In the rat, this enlargement, which is primarily a result of interference with CCK-mediated feedback control of exocrine pancreatic secretion, persists upon prolonged feeding and leads to a susceptibility of the pancreas to carcinogens and an increased incidence of neoplasia. In contrast, with pigs or dogs, in which feedback regulation is primarily mediated via secretin, no increase in pancreas enlargement results from consumption of soyabean. Dietary soyabean or trypsin inhibitors do however alter pancreatic secretion in humans. It is at present unclear how this response is mediated. The growth inhibition and interference with intestinal and systemic metabolism observed upon soyabean feeding is due to the presence of trypsin inhibitors, lectin and anti-nutritional factors, devoid of trypsin inhibitory or lectin activity, in the seed meal. The effects of these dietary factors are additive and possibly synergistic. Most of the anti-nutritional effects of soyabean can be abolished by proper aqueous heart-treatment. However, with a proportion of calves, pigs, lambs and humans even heat-treated soyabean has deleterious effects. These can only be eliminated by hot aqueous-ethanol extraction of the meal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Growth Inhibitors
  • Growth* / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lectins / adverse effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Muscles / drug effects
  • Pancreas / drug effects
  • Plant Lectins
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Soybeans / adverse effects*
  • Trypsin Inhibitors / adverse effects


  • Growth Inhibitors
  • Lectins
  • Plant Lectins
  • Trypsin Inhibitors