Almost a hundred oilseeds are used by humans to produce various types of vegetable oils. And soybeans are also on this list. However, one can often hear that soya product is not the most beneficial for humans. Is this true and what does official science say about soybean fats? Now we find out.
The fact that soybeans can produce oil, people realized in the third millennium BC. And this discovery was made in ancient China. It was there that the oldest written references to the use of the product were found. But according to experts, this is not strange, since it is China (according to some sources - India) that is considered the birthplace of this culture. In ancient China, soy was both food and medicine, and the plant itself was called divine. In those days, in the East, they believed that soybean oil is the very elixir of youth that returns a person to health, strength and beauty.
Real soybean oil has a bright straw yellow or greenish color and a specific pungent odor. In industry, this product is obtained by pressing (mechanical method) or extraction (chemical method). The most useful is unrefined oil obtained by double pressing (cold pressing). But you must understand that this type of product is not intended for long-term storage, it has a characteristic pungent smell and sediment. To extend the shelf life of the product, manufacturers resort to hydration, which, however, degrades the biological value of the oil. But the consumer, as a rule, does not get pure oil, but refined oil - almost transparent, with a pinkish tint and already without a sharp aroma.
But Europeans learned about soy only in the XVIII century. And then at first thanks to soy sauce, which was the first in Europe to be tasted by the French. Today, soybean oil is made from the fruits of a plant known in biology as cultivated soy. It is grown mainly in tropical and subtropical regions, as well as in the Far East, Moldova, Georgia. Soybean oil is on the list of the most popular among residents of China, Western Europe and the United States.
According to scientists, soybean oil is a record holder among foods for the content of bioactive substances. But what is most impressive, it is almost 98% absorbed by the human body, and this is a very high indicator.
It is logical that soybean oil contains a huge amount of fat (thanks to them, the caloric content of 100 g of the product is almost 900 kcal). But this, I must say, is not bad news at all. On the contrary, the "palette" of fats does not contain cholesterol, but is represented by useful polyunsaturated fatty acids. In particular, about 50-60% of soybean oil consists of linoleic acid, 20-30% of oleic acid. The product contains up to 7% stearic fatty acid, approximately 6% of linolenic and palmitic. In a slightly smaller amount, scientists found in it arachic, myristic and hexadecene fatty acids. To summarize, then in 100 g of soybean oil there are 58 g of polyunsaturated fat, 23 g of monounsaturated fat and 16 g of saturated fatty acids. In addition, the soy product can be considered as a source of vitamins E, K and B4, as well as iron and zinc.
Soybean oil has been used for several millennia for therapeutic and preventive purposes. And many of its properties, attributed to traditional healers, have already found scientific confirmation. For example, today it is precisely known that the soy product is useful for:
- prevention of atherosclerosis and heart attacks;
- strengthening immunity;
- reduce the risk of malignant tumors;
- improve bowel function;
- lowering cholesterol in the bloodstream;
- metabolic acceleration;
- improved blood coagulation;
- strengthening the nervous system;
- prevention of impaired renal function;
- increase male fertility;
- hair and skin care;
- slowing down the aging process.
By the way, soybean oil is also useful in that it helps the proper absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).
But if the oil is intended for oral use as a natural medicine, then its daily dose should not exceed 1-2 tablespoons.
What else is known about the benefits of soybean oil:
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that the body needs to produce some hormones and enzymes. The body of healthy people is able to independently produce adequate doses of this substance, sufficient to perform its functions. Improper nutrition, disruption of the digestive system lead to excessive accumulation of cholesterol in the vessels. And this is a serious factor that increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Fatty acids contained in the soya product help the body control the level of cholesterol and, if the permissible norms are exceeded, reduce its concentration. Thus, we can say that the soy product also protects against heart attacks and strokes.
This ability was obtained by oil due to the presence of vitamin K. This nutrient plays an important role in maintaining healthy bone tissue. Studies have shown that vitamin K promotes bone mineralization, which prevents osteoporosis. And besides vitamin K, the product contains zinc and iron, which are also important for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
Improves men's health
Soybean oil is considered beneficial for the prostate gland. The results of some studies indicate that consumption of soya product can reduce the risk of prostate hyperplasia and cancer by up to 70%. In addition, soybean oils help restore hormonal balance in the male body.
Source of Antioxidants
Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species, are usually part of normal oxygen metabolism. They are formed in the body during the processing of food into energy, and I must say, in a certain amount they are even useful for the body. Meanwhile, poor ecology, exposure to UV radiation, tobacco smoke and other factors increase the level of free radicals in the body, resulting in irreversible damage to cells and cell membranes. Therefore, a person needs substances that resist the aggressive effects of reactive oxygen species. And such substances are antioxidants. Vitamin E contained in soybean oil is one of those. Adequate intake of this nutrient prevents the excessive formation of free radicals, and also prevents the diseases caused by them (including cardiovascular, oncological). In addition, vitamin E effectively strengthens the immune system, promotes the formation of red blood cells and improves the absorption of vitamin K. And soybean oil can serve as an excellent source of vitamin antioxidant.
Possible harm and side effects
In addition to the benefits, soybean oil can also harm the body. For example, for people who are allergic to soy, this product is strictly prohibited. It is believed that the soy product is undesirable in the diet of pregnant and lactating women, since it contains many estrogen-like isoflavones. And some researchers suggest that migraine attacks are possible against the background of soybean oil consumption. Well, do not forget about excessive weight, which is also inevitable if you are very involved in this high-calorie product.
Another fact that makes researchers cautiously look at soybean oil is its high omega-6 fat content. Excess of these fatty acids in the body can cause inflammation and chronic diseases.
The most dangerous is called oil obtained from genetically modified beans. Such a product, as a rule, contains many components dangerous to humans. For example:
- goitrogens - substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones (produced by the thyroid gland) and interfere with the metabolism of iodine;
- genistein and daidzein - phytoestrogens that can disrupt the endocrine system, cause infertility, and contribute to breast cancer;
- phytic acid - worsens the body’s absorption of magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium and some other useful minerals (soy is the leader among all legumes in the content of phytates, their concentration can be reduced by a long heat treatment);
- hemagglutinin - causes red blood cells to stick together.
Use in the food industry
Soybean oil is one of the leaders in use in the food industry. It gets into the kitchen either in liquid form (refined) or as a component of margarines. This oil can often be seen in the list of ingredients of many products, including confectionery, mayonnaise, salad dressings, soy milk. In addition, it is used as a stabilizer and preservative in canned food, as well as for processing foods before freezing.
The vessel with soybean oil should be stored in the refrigerator according to the rules. Under the influence of the sun its beneficial properties are reduced. In addition, the soy product is not intended for long-term storage (maximum month), so it is better to buy in small portions.
Use in cosmetology
Many centuries ago, soy product was used as a natural cosmetic product. This fatty oil has many benefits for dry and normal skin. It moisturizes and nourishes it, creates a protective barrier on the epidermis, which helps retain moisture. Soybean oil products are useful for treating very dry, chapped, and rough skin. This Vitamin E-rich product is important for aging skin care. It will help maintain a toned face, slow down aging, and also restore the skin's natural color and smoothness. In the composition of soybean oil, researchers found lecithin, which is extremely important for the skin, especially with dermatitis. In addition, it is useful to apply soybean oil to insect bite sites to get rid of itching and swelling.
However, the use of soybean oil can also cause unpleasant side effects in the form of comedones (black dots on the skin). Most often this occurs as a result of the use of undiluted soy product. Therefore, it is better for the face to take a mixture of oils, for example, from soybeans, olives, almond and peach seeds, pine nuts and other plants. A few drops of soybean oil can be added to ready-made purchased creams, face and body lotions, and makeup remover milk.
To accelerate hair growth, a soy product is also useful. It is useful to add a few drops of essential oils important for hair (for example, peppermint, lavender or rosemary) to the oil base. The mixture is applied to the scalp, then wrapped with polyethylene and a warm towel.
What else is useful
The fact that soybean oil contains lecithin, we have already said. And this feature made it possible to use the soy product in pharmacology. Also, the benefit of the oil is obtained in soap making, in the manufacturing process of detergents, plastics, dyes, synthetic oils. And not so long ago, researchers discovered that soya product in its pure form (as, incidentally, canola) is an excellent tool to combat garden pests.
Scientific debate on the benefits and harms of soybean oil has been going on for many years. One group of scientists argues that this is one of the healthiest foods, while others argue that, in addition to low cost, there is no other reason to use soybean oil for food. Which of them is right will probably judge the time and subsequent studies of the useful and dangerous properties of this product. In the meantime, with confidence we can only say that it, like other oils, should be consumed in moderation. After all, even the most healthy foods in excessive quantities can harm.