Soybean oil is one of the most inexpensive oils and is popular for more than just its affordability. Soybean oil has a high smoke point, which means that you can use this oil to cook foods at higher temperatures before the oil starts developing free radicals. Additionally, soybean oil is has a mild flavor, which makes it easy to cook with for most recipes. It is a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Soybean oil is a vegetable oil made by cracking and heating the beans, then rolling them to extract the oil.
Types of Soybean Oil
There are many different ways soybean oil is prepared and used. When purchasing, the best choice is to choose unrefined GMO-free soybean oil that has not been hydrogenated. This will limit the trans fats in your diet, which are associated with poor health. Manufacturers often hydrogenate oils to extend the shelf life of the food. It is the most common vegetable oil in the U.S for both commercial and home uses.
Soybean oil has a shelf life of about 1 year if it is kept in a cool, dry and dark place away from general kitchen heat. You can also refrigerate this oil, especially if it is cold-pressed and non-hydrogenated, to reduce its exposure to heat.
When reading labels, look for words like high quality, organic, cold-pressed or expeller-pressed, non-GMO, unrefined fats and non-hydrogenated oils. This means that the oils are minimally processed and closest to their natural nutritional value, flavor and aroma.
Nutrition of Soybean Oil
- Smoke Point: 450°F/230°C
- Per 1 tablespoon serving of soybean oil
- Calories: 120
- Fat: 14 g, 21% DV
- Cholesterol: 0 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g, 11% of DV
- Protein: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 0 g
- Vitamin K: 31%
- Vitamin E: 6%
- Polyunsaturated Fats: 8 g
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 917 mg
- Omega-6 fatty acids: 6807 mg
Health Benefits of Soybean Oil
1. Soybean oil contains no cholesterol, trans-fats and saturated fats. Diets lower in these are associated with improved heart health.
2. Polyunsaturated fats including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in soybean oil add an additional heart health benefit by reducing total cholesterol, lowering LDL or bad cholesterol levels and increase HDL or good cholesterol levels. There is also some evidence that foods with omega-3s are associated with slowing the growth of atherosclerotic plaque and decreasing triglyceride levels.
3. The vitamin E in soybean oil is an antioxidant that works by preventing or reversing the damage caused by free radicals. Decreasing exposure or damage done by free radicals also decreases your risk of some cancers.
Recipe Uses for Soybean Oil
Soybean oil is found in a lot of commercially processed foods, be aware that much of the soybean oil found in foods like non-dairy creamers, potato chips or baked goods has been hydrogenated. When cooking at home, choose non-GMO unrefined soybean oil for making salad dressings, deep frying, baked foods, breads, mayonnaise, stir-frying or any time you need a mild flavored oil. Often, people will add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a bottle of soybean oil, which will absorb the flavor and yet the olive oil flavor will have a base of inexpensive soybean oil.
Emily DeLacey MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and currently working in Jamaica as a HIV/ AIDS Prevention Specialist. She attended Central Washington University for her Bachelor's Degree in Science and Dietetics and continued on after her internship to Kent State University for her Master's Degree in Science and Nutrition, with a focus on public health and advocacy. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi 2012-2014 working as a Community Health Advisor in a rural village, immersing in the joys of life without electricity or running water. She has been to 20+ countries and 47 of the 50 states in the US. Traveling, adventuring and experiencing new cultures has made her a passionate advocate for the equality of nutrition and wellness for all people.