Definition: Soybean oil is extracted from soybeans and is a good source of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats. It is processed and sold mainly as a vegetable oil, while the remaining soybean meal is typically used as animal feed. It is also the primary source of biodiesel in the country, making up 80 percent of domestic production.
Chinese records dating prior to 2000 B.C. mention use of cultivated soybeans to produce edible soy oil. Ancient Chinese literature reveals that soybeans were extensively cultivated and highly valued as a use for the soybean oil production process before written records were kept.
Soybean is native to East Asia and is considered a legume, however, despite its limited origin; it is highly prized for its edibility. Most soybean oil is refined, blended, and sometimes hydrogenated and it can be graded into different levels and strengths depending on the desired application.
Soybean oil is commonly used to make mayonnaise, salad dressing, margarine, and non-dairy coffee creamers. It is a usual feature of processed foods, which is where the problem begins: processed foods are perhaps the most damaging part of most people’s diet, contributing to the occurrence of disease and poor health.
Production and Composition of Soybean oil: To produce soybean oil, the soybeans are cracked, adjusted for moisture content, heated to between 60 and 88 °C (140–190 °F), rolled into flakes, and solvent-extracted with hexanes. The oil is then refined, blended for different applications, and sometimes hydrogenated. Soybean oils, both liquid and partially hydrogenated are sold as “vegetable oil,” or are ingredients in a wide variety of processed foods. Most of the remaining residue (soybean meal) is used as animal feed.
Within soybean oil are four phytosterols: stigmasterol, sitosterol, campestrol, and brassicasterol.
Per 100 grams of soybean oil, there are about 16 grams of saturated fat, 23 grams of monounsaturated fat, and 58 grams of polyunsaturated fat. Of the unsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid, a type of omega-6 fat, is about 50 percent, while linolenic acid is about seven percent.
It also contains the saturated fatty acids stearic acid (C-18:0), 4%, and palmitic acid (C-16:0), 10%.
Benefits and Effects of Soybean oil: Soybean oil is considered healthier than most other vegetable oils, due to the presence of a good variety of essential fatty acids in it, which the body needs in order to remain healthy.
The main benefits of soybean oil are for food manufacturers, who are able to use cheap vegetable oils for their products. It took many years before conventional health authorities to finally warn against using trans fat.
- Controls Cholesterol Levels – Soybean oil can seriously decrease our chances of getting atherosclerosis and other heart conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce dangerous cholesterol levels and counteract the negative types. Furthermore, the other fatty acids like stearic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acid are also found in balanced quantities.
- Boosts Bone Health – Another important function of vitamin K is its osteotrophic potential, which means that it can stimulate the regrowth or promote the healing of bones. While this is often associated with calcium, vitamin K (which soybeans have in plenty) can also stimulate bone development in a very positive way.
- Treats Alzheimer’s – Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that affects millions of people around the world. Soybean oil has an impressively high level of vitamin K, which has been consistently connected with improving the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and even reversing the effects in some cases. The vitamin K acts as an antioxidant against free radicals, keeping them from damaging the neural cells.
- Skin Care – The high vitamin E content in soybean oil also acts as a powerful antioxidant while similarly protecting the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E is directly associated with improving the appearance of blemishes, reducing acne scarring, protecting the skin against sunburn, and stimulating the regrowth of new skin cells to promote healing.
- Improves Vision – Omega-3 fatty acids, which make up to 7% of the total fatty acid content in soybean oil helps to protect the cell membranes. Omega-3 fatty acids lower inflammation and reduce our risk of arthritis and heart disease, as well as promote brain health and general cognitive function.
Beware of soy allergy, which can also happen in very young infants fed soy-based formula. Allergic reactions may also manifest when consuming the oil.
Genetically engineered soybean oil is the worst offender. GE soybeans are linked to significant adverse health effects, including increased infertility rates with each passing generation. But even if people have organic soybean oil, it still poses several significant issues, including the following problems with soy:
- Goitrogens – Substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism.
- Isoflavones: genistein and daidzein – A type of feminizing phytoestrogens, and are shown by evidence to disturb endocrine function, cause infertility, and promote breast cancer.
- Phytic acid – These bind to metal ions and prevent the absorption of certain minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Soybean has one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume, and its phytates are highly resistance to normal phytate-reducing methods such as long, slow cooking. Only a long fermentation period will substantially reduce soybeans’ phytate content.
- Anti-nutrients – These are natural toxins such as saponins, soyatoxin, protease inhibitors, and oxalates. Some of these interfere with the enzymes you need to digest protein. These anti-nutrients are not problematic in small amounts, but Americans today are consuming too much soy.
- Hemagglutinin – A clot-promoting substance that causes your red blood cells to clump together, with the cells unable to properly absorb and distribute oxygen to our tissues.
Experts recommend coconut oil for cooking, as it is far superior to any other cooking oil and is loaded with healthful properties. Use organic butter (preferably made from raw milk) instead of margarine and vegetable oil spreads. Butter does not deserve a bad rap, as it offers an array of wholesome benefits.