The over-consumption of soybean oil may have an impact on inflammation, obesity and diabetes, as well as neurological conditions such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety and depression.
New research from the University of California, Riverside, has found that the consumption of soybean oil in mice is linked to the dysregulation of the expression of about 100 different genes in the hypothalamus.
We recommend that you avoid consuming too much soybean oil. A little bit is not harmful – soybean oil per se is not toxic – and in fact, it is helpful in that it provides linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that we must get from the diet.
“The hypothalamus regulates body weight via your metabolism, maintains body temperature, is critical for reproduction and physical growth as well as your response to stress,” Margarita Curras-Collazo, a professor of neuroscience at UC Riverside and lead author on the study, said.
The dysregulation of these genes leads to the over or under-production of hormones – such as oxytocin and vasopressin – which have metabolic, inflammation and neurological relevance.See Also:Health News
The study found that mice fed diets high in soybean oil became more glucose intolerant and experienced more weight gain compared with mice fed a high-fat diet with coconut oil. Mice fed the high soybean oil diet also experienced the dysregulation of genes associated with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia.
“Given its ubiquitous presence in the American diet, the observed effects of soybean oil on hypothalamic gene expression could have important public health ramifications,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the journal, Endocrinology.
While the two main chemical components of soybean oil – linoleic acid and stigmasterol – were found not to be responsible for the dysregulation, researchers are yet to identify what is responsible for the dysregulation.
“An important caveat of our study is that we do not know if the soybean oil is directly affecting the brain,” the research team told Olive Oil Times in an email. “It could be that since soybean oil causes obesity and diabetes (at least in mice), it is either the obese state or the diabetic state that actually causes the change of gene expression in the brain.”
“Many organs play a role in obesity, in addition to the hypothalamus,” the research team added. “These include the liver, muscle, pancreas and fat (adipose tissue).”
However, the researchers said that the implications of the study were clear, even if the organic chemistry was not.
“We recommend that you avoid consuming too much soybean oil,” the research team said. “A little bit is not harmful – soybean oil per se is not toxic – and in fact, it is helpful in that it provides linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that we must get from the diet.”
“But we only need about one to two percent linoleic acid in our diet,” the research team added. “Many Americans are currently taking in as much as 10 percent linoleic acid, due to the increased consumption of soybean oil.”
The trouble with soybean oil is that it has become ubiquitous in the American diet and is increasingly difficult to avoid.
“Unfortunately, in the United States it is very difficult to avoid soybean oil. We often do not have a choice,” the researcher team said. “Most restaurants in the U.S. use soybean oil as it is inexpensive (soybeans are easy to grow which makes them a great crop)… Many processed foods contain soybean oil, even ones that appear to be healthy.”
“Products from farm animals likely have soybean oil or its components that can make their way to human diet as well,” the research team added. “This is because many times soybean oil… is added to animal feed… in order to meet recommended energy requirements and in some cases for fattening up the animals.”
It also remains unclear whether replacing soybean oil with healthier oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, would have an impact on gene dysregulation.
“We cannot know what effect if any olive oil might have on gene expression,” the researcher team said. “We would have to do the experiment.”