Confused about the wonderful world of cooking oils? Soybean oil is an inexpensive oil added to many processed foods. Is it a healthy oil for cooking?
The world of cooking oils is a confusing one. With so many choices lining supermarket shelves, which one should you choose? One oil that’s commonly found in packaged foods is soybean oil. Soybean oil is made by cracking soybeans and extracting the oil from the bean’s interior. The extracted oil is then refined and used in variety of packaged food products such as salad dressings and mayonnaise. Soybean oil can also be purchased in big containers at grocery stores to be used as a cooking oil at home. Is soybean oil a healthy choice as a cooking oil?
Is Soybean Oil Healthy?: Choosing a Healthy Oil
The key to selecting a healthy cooking oil is to choose one that’s low in saturated fats and has more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are heart friendlier choices. Polyunsaturated fats include both omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Most Americans get too many omega-6’s from processed foods and not enough omega-3’s. This imbalance can cause the body to produce inflammatory chemicals that lead to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. The key is to look for oils with polyunsaturated fats with a high ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
Is Soybean Oil Healthy?: What’s It’s Ratio?
Soybean oil is made up of 15% saturated fats, 24% monounsaturated fats, and 61% polyunsaturated fats. Compare this to olive oil which has 14% saturated fat, 77% monounsaturated fats, and 9 percent polyunsaturated fats. As you can see, olive oil has significantly more monounsaturated fats and less polyunsaturated ones. Polyunsaturated fats can be good thing as long as the balance between omega-6’s and omega-3’s isn’t weighted too far towards the omega-6 end. Soybean oil contains both omega-3’s and omega-6’s, but it contains a fairy high proportion of omega-6’s relative to omega-3. Considering most people get too many omega-6’s from processed foods, soybean oil may not be the best choice for most people.
Is Soybean Oil Healthy?: Other Advantages and Disadvantages
On the plus side, soybean oil is inexpensive and is a good source of vitamin E. On the down side, it’s more processed than olive oil and doesn’t hold up well to high temperature cooking. It can even produce toxic breakdown products when taken to high heats. Soybean oil in processed foods are sometimes hydrogenated which turns them into trans fats – something no one needs in their diet. It’s important to read food labels carefully and stay away from foods that list hydrogenated or fractionated soybean oil.
Is Soybean Oil Healthy?: The Bottom Line?
Soybean oil is so commonly found in packaged and processed foods which most people get too much of. For home use, it’s healthier to choose a cooking oil that’s higher in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats to help balance things out. For this reason, olive oil and canola oil are better choices for most people.