You know some cooking oils—like olive oil and avocado oil, which a dietitian recently told us she loves—are healthier to cook with than others, especially given the impact some have been shown to have on heart health. A new study just delivered a conclusion about one common but oft-misunderstood cooking oil. They say that while this one oil has confused scientists and consumers for ages, it actually promotes cardiovascular health and lowers cholesterol.
A group of nutritional science researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Texas Tech University led a study that's just been published in the journal Nutrition. The research team noted that while soybean oil is the most widely consumed oil in the U.S. as well as the world, its dangers versus its benefits is a debate that's confused consumers and medical professionals for years. They stated: "Despite the ubiquity of soybean oil in the U.S. food supply and its established cardioprotective effect, U.S. consumers are much less likely to rate soybean oil as healthful in comparison to many other oils such as olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil and avocado oil."
This is problematic, they say. That's because while saturated fat is commonly thought of as a major culprit for heart disease and death, a 2010 study revealed that in 80% of countries, twice the number of coronary heart disease cases were caused by inadequate omega-6 polyunsaturated fat levels (such as those from soybean oil) compared to coronary heart disease rates caused by high levels of saturated fat.
To shed light on what they regard as these prevalent misperceptions, the researchers conducted an analysis of past studies which all examined the effects of soybean oil on health, including aspects related to cardiovascular disease prevention, blood lipid (cholesterol) levels, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Their findings indicate that as a polyunsaturated fat, not only does soybean oil "not affect inflammatory biomarkers, nor does it increase oxidative stress," but when soybean oil replaced saturated fat, blood cholesterol levels lowered.
The researchers conclude:
[…C]ollectively, evidence suggests soybean oil has favorable effects on [cardiovascular disease] risk. In addition, dietary recommendations support soybean oil consumption as part of a healthy diet for general health and [cardiovascular disease] prevention and management.
It's pretty science-y, but it seems soybean oil definitely delivers some benefit. Information like this could help you make a good choice next time you're in the oil aisle. Check out One Major Effect Drinking Coffee Has on Your Liver, and keep reading: