Soybean products are widely supported as being safe and healthy, but there may be some downsides to this food source. Not all of these issues relate to soybean oil, however. Soybean is considered a healthy cooking oil because it contains no trans fat. If you are unsure soybean products are right for you, consult your doctor.
Soybeans are indigenous to southeastern Asia and have been a staple food for over 5,000 years, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Today, more than half of the soy produce comes from the United States. Soybeans are a solid protein source and a common ingredient in vegetarian foods such as tofu. Soybeans come in many formats, such as raw or roasted. The bean can be used to make a soy milk or ice cream products. Soy baby formulas are one approach to feeding infants with a milk allergy. The raw form of the bean presents more health risks than the processed oil.
The liquid oil from the soybean is 61 percent polyunsaturated and 24 percent monounsaturated fat, according to the National Soybean Research Laboratory. This means it does not increase the bad cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease. Soybean oil is a rich source of essential fatty acids that help to regulate blood pressure and cell proliferation. Soybean oil is available in both liquid and solid format.
Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
Hydrogenating soybean oil stabilizes it and allows it to thicken to a solid form. This is one oil found in margarine products. Once the oil solidifies, it can present some health risks. Hydrogenation reduces the amount of polyunsaturated fats and adds trans fats to the formula. Trans fats are associated with heart disease and plaque buildup in arteries. The process to create solid soybean oil reduces the nutritional value of the plant.
Soybeans can contain anti-nutrients. This means they interfere with the body's ability to absorb nutrients from foods. Processing the plant into oil may reduce some of this effect but will not eliminate it entirely. The raw bean is also an anticoagulant, which means it will reduce blood clotting. There are benefits associated with eating any soy product. For example, It may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Soy is a common allergen. If you have a severe soy allergy, you may or may not have a reaction with the oil. If you have never had soybean oil and are sensitive to soy, it would be best to avoid it.
- "Nutrition Digest"; The Downside of Soybean Consumption; Beatrice Trum Hunter; 2010
- Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center; Soy Isoflavones; Jane Higdon, Ph.D.; 2006
- Cornell University; Phytoestrogens and Breast Cancer; Barbour S. Warren, Carol Devine, Ph.D., R.D.; 2001
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Soy; Steven D. Ehrlich, N.M.D.; 2009
- National Soybean Research Laboratory: Soybean Nutrition