Think all unsaturated fatty acids are healthy? Think again. A recent study has shed new light on how the body reacts to soybean oil, and it isn’t pretty.
In this study conducted by scientists of the University of California, mice were split into groups and fed 4 different meals, all comprising of about 40 percent fat—what the average American eats. One was mostly coconut oil, a saturated fat. The next was half coconut oil and half soybean oil. This quantity of polyunsaturated fats represents a proportional quantity to what most Americans currently consume. The third and fourth were similarly high fat diets paired with quantities of fructose.
From what we know about sugar, one would expect the mice eating the fatty diet with fructose to gain the most weight, but curiously enough, the mice eating soybean oil without any fructose were the ones who packed on the most pounds. They also had fattier livers and more insulin resistance than fructose-consuming mice. They gained 9 percent more weight than the fructose-eating mice, and a significant 25 percent more weight than the coconut oil-fed mice.
While the study only dealt with mice, the findings are certainly interesting. Soybean oil now accounts for around 60 percent of oils consumed in the U.S. and 50 percent of edible oils produced in the world. Curiously, the increase in soybean oil consumption seems to mirror the increased rates of obesity in the U.S. over the past few decades—alongside the well-known increase in fructose consumption.
While it isn’t clear what makes soybean oil so bad, researchers guess that it affects the manner in which the liver goes about metabolizing fat. To dig deeper, they’ve also studied other oils to see how they fare. Corn oil also caused obesity significantly more than coconut oil, but not quite as much as soybean oil. Olive oil and lard are now in testing, while canola oil has yet to be tested.
Why is this study important to you? Because soybean oil is everywhere, masquerading as a smart and healthy choice. It is practically ubiquitous in processed foods across the board because it is so cheap to produce. But, soybean oil is a highly refined, potentially unhealthy oil. You’re better off opting for more natural, less processed foods, and leaning towards using more healthy oil choices like coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and unheated extra-virgin olive oil. Your health and waistline will thank you.