Soybean Oil

Commonly Labeled as Vegetable Oil

With a neutral flavor, potential heart-health benefits, and a favorable fatty acid profile, soybean oil is a great choice for a wide array of cooking and baking applications. It is often used in dressings, margarine, shortenings, sauces, baked goods, and more. Commonly labeled as vegetable oil, soybean oil is the most widely consumed edible oil in the United States and the world. 1

NUTRIENT PROFILE

Soybean oil is comprised of 12-15 percent saturated fat, 22-30 percent monosaturated fat, and 55-58 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids. 2 Soybean oil accounts for over 40% of the US intake of both essential fatty acids3 and is a source of vitamin E.4

Image depicting man pouring soybean oil into a pan.

HEART HEALTHY

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recognized soybean oil for its cardiovascular health benefits with a qualified health claim.5 The language allowed in support of the soybean oil health claim is stronger than the language for others that have similar health claims.

The soybean oil health claim states: Supportive but not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 1½ tablespoons (20.5 grams) daily of soybean oil, which contains unsaturated fat, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. To achieve this possible benefit, soybean oil is to replace saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.

Soybean oil may work on multiple fronts to improve health. For example, it is comprised of about 50% omega-6 polyunsaturated fat. When replacing saturated fat in the diet, polyunsaturated fat reduces blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Evidence also suggests that polyunsaturated fat improves the body’s ability to use the hormone insulin, which regulates blood glucose levels, and may reduce the risk of developing diabetes.6 Also, unlike other commonly consumed plant oils like corn oil and sesame oil, soybean oil contains appreciable amounts of the essential omega-3 fat.  The omega-3 fat in soybean may also help to lower heart disease although more research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.7   Finally, there has been concern that oils with too much omega-6 fat relative to omega-3 fat may be nutritionally undesirable; however, this concern has been rejected by health agencies around the world, including the American Heart Association.  Rather than emphasizing the importance of this ratio, the emphasis is on making sure adequate amounts of each type of fat are consumed.8

ALLERGIES

Highly refined soybean oil does not cause allergic reactions in soy-allergic individuals. 9 The U.S. Food Allergen Labeling & Consumer Protection Act, which mandates labeling of all ingredients derived from commonly allergenic foods, exempts highly refined oils. Highly refined soybean, peanut, and sunflower seed oils have been clinically documented to be safe for consumption by those allergic to the source food. 10

An image depicting a U.S. soybean farmer in a field.

SUSTAINABLY GROWN

U.S. soybean farmers are doing more with less and continue to strive to improve sustainability on their farms to preserve our natural resources.  The soybean plays an important role in U.S. agriculture providing both protein and oil that is used throughout the world.

References

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service: 2019 ERS Oilseed Yearbook.
  2. Dorni C, Sharma P, Saikia G, et al. Fatty acid profile of edible oils and fats consumed in India. Food Chem. 2018;2389-15.
  3. Blasbalg, T.L.; Hibbeln, J.R.; Ramsden, C.E.; Majchrzak, S.F., and Rawlings, R.R.; Changes in consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the United States during the 20th century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011, 93, 950-62.
  4. Kris-Etherton PM, Taylor DS, Yu-Poth S, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in the food chain in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71(1 Suppl):179S-88S.
  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Soybean Oil and Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease.” July 31, 2017.
  6. Belury, M.A.; Cole, R.M.; Snoke, D.B.; Banh, T., and Angelotti, A.; Linoleic acid, glycemic control and Type 2 diabetes. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2018, 132, 30-33.
  7. Fleming, J.A. and Kris-Etherton, P.M.; The evidence for alpha-linolenic acid and cardiovascular disease benefits: Comparisons with eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Adv Nutr. 2014, 5, 863S-76S.
  8. Harris, W.S.; Mozaffarian, D.; Rimm, E.; Kris-Etherton, P.; Rudel, L.L.; Appel, L.J.; Engler, M.M.; Engler, M.B., and Sacks, F.; Omega-6 fatty acids and risk for cardiovascular disease: a science advisory from the American Heart Association Nutrition Subcommittee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism; Council on Cardiovascular Nursing; and Council on Epidemiology and Prevention. Circulation. 2009, 119, 902-7.
  9. Approaches to Establish Thresholds for Major Food Allergens and for Gluten in Food.” U.S. Food & Drug Administration. March 2006. II. Food Allergy; E,2:Food Ingredients.
  10. Bush RK, Taylor SL, Nordlee JA, et al. Soybean oil is not allergenic to soybean-sensitive individuals. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1985;76(2 Pt 1):242-5.