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Foods

Oil, soybean
Why Eat It
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation
Nutrition Chart


Why Eat It

Soybean oil, commonly called "vegetable oil," is the natural oil extracted from whole soybeans; and it is the most frequently consumed oil in the U.S. Low in saturated fat (15%) and high in unsaturated fat (61% polyunsaturated, 24% monounsaturated), soybean oil accounts for nearly 80% of our total vegetable oil intake. As it contains only 15% unsaturated fat, soybean oil is a good replacement for fats and oils with higher levels of saturated fat, such as butter, lard, and tropical oils. Two of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in soybean oil include two essential fatty acids, linoleic and linolenic, which are not produced in the body. Linoleic and linolenic acids foster the body's absorption of vital nutrients and are required for human health. Soybean oil also contains phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, which is currently under investigation for the ability to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

While soybean oil is sold in supermarkets under the generic name "vegetable oil," it should be noted, however, that not all "vegetable oils" are 100% soybean oil. Read the labels carefully to be sure that "100% soybean oil" appears on the label. You can use soybean oil in any recipe that requires vegetable oil.

Soybean oil is also used by the food industry in a number of other products including salad dressings, margarine, sandwich spreads, mayonnaise, non-dairy creamers, whipped toppings, and snack foods. And because it is in so many foods, soybean oil is one of the major sources of vitamin E in the U.S. diet. Whole soybeans are high in vitamin E, and though processing removes over 30% of the vitamin E, the processed soybean oil is still considered to be a good source of this important vitamin.

When soybean oil is used to manufacture margarine and other products that require the semi-solidification, the oil is "hydrogenated" to make it both stable and solid at room temperature. Unfortunately, the hydrogenation process changes the chemical composition of the product by creating harmful trans fatty acids, and thus compromises the inherent nutritional value of the soybean oil. To respond to this problem (and because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will soon require trans fatty acids to be included on food labels), the soybean agricultural industry has developed a new heart-healthy soybean, which when processed into oil will lower the overall content of trans fatty acids. Approximately 1,000 acres of the new soybean will be planted in 2000, enough to produce seed for 50,000 acres in 2001.

Availability

Soybean oil is available in both supermarkets and health food stores.

Shopping

Look for clean bottles and buy in a store with a high turnover.

Storage

If you are planning on using your soybean oil within a month or two, it can be stored at room temperature, away from heat. Soybean oil intended for longer storage should be refrigerated. To use, bring to room temperature.

Preparation

Virtually flavorless and relatively inexpensive, soybean oil can be used for sauteing. In fact, many restaurants purchase large 5-gallon containers of soybean oil and use it exclusively for sauteing. In salads, use a more flavorful oil.

As with all oils, measure in a glass (liquid) measure or in measuring spoons.

Nutrition Chart

Soybean oil/1 ounce

126
Total fat (g)
14
Saturated fat (g)
2.1
Monounsaturated fat (g)
6.1
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
5.3
Dietary fiber (g)
0
0
Carbohydrate (g)
0
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Sodium (mg)
0
Vitamin E (mg)
2.6



Date Published: 04/20/2005
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