Soybean Oil Linked to Genetic Changes in the Brain

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January 26, 2020
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“The research team discovered roughly 100 genes affected by the soybean oil diet”

The majority of  households have soyabean cooking oil in the kitchen, in fact, it is the most widely consumed oil in the US, as it is added to packaged food, and given to livestock. But, like so many highly processed, engineered refined products, it is certainly not good for optimum health. And as if that wasn’t enough to put consumers off, recent research undertaken by UC Riverside, and published in the journal, Endocrinology, indicates that it produces genetic changes in the brains of mice, resulting in neurological conditions such as depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease and autism. Moreover, the UC Riverside research team has already determined that soyabean oil may lead to diabetes and obesity, both huge problems in America and elsewhere. 

Study Details

The scientists analyzed mice which were provided three different high fat diets: coconut oil, soybean oil altered to be low in linoleic acid, and soybean oil. “They found pronounced effects of the oil on the hypothalamus, where a number of critical processes take place.” The study’s lead author,  a UCR associate professor of neuroscience, Margarita Curras-Collazo, stated: “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.”

A Massive Effect on Genes

“The dogma is that saturated fat is bad and unsaturated fat is good. Soybean oil is a polyunsaturated fat, but the idea that it’s good for you is just not proven”

The researchers were surprised to discover around a hundred genes which were not functioning properly in the soyabean-fed mice. One of these was oxytocin, the “love” hormone. Indeed, the mice that were fed soybean oil, experienced a decrease in oxytocin levels in the hypothalamus.

The team feel that this research: “could have ramifications not just for energy metabolism, but also for proper brain function and diseases such as autism or Parkinson’s disease. However, it is important to note there is no proof the oil causes these diseases.”

A Word of Caution

Professor of cell biology and UCR toxicologist, Frances Sladek, cautioned: “Do not throw out your tofu, soymilk, edamame, or soy sauce. Many soy products only contain small amounts of the oil, and large amounts of healthful compounds such as essential fatty acids and proteins.” So the best course of action is to read the labels.

Identifying the Negative Compounds

One crucial element yet to be carried out by the UC Riverside team, is determining the compound/s responsible for soyabean oil’s negative effects. The study’s first author, and assistant project scientist in Sladek’s laboratory, Poonamjot Deol, noted: “This could help design healthier dietary oils in the future.” And: “If there’s one message I want people to take away, it’s this: reduce consumption of soybean oil.”

So Which Oil Should You Cook With?

This seems to be the million dollar question these days, as confusion reigns in the supermarket cooking oil aisles. In a nutshell, when it comes to everyday cooking, olive oil is a good choice. And while it doesn’t have the highest smoke point compared to other oils, it is nonetheless, sufficiently high to withstand medium-heat cooking and sautéing. And in the case of stir-frying, and other higher temperature cooking, avocado, or coconut oil (specifically for cooking), are the best options. Indeed, the latter, generates very few changes within the hypothalamic genes.

Shirley Amy is a Holistic Health Specialist and professional writer who’s published 4 books. Her  interests include optimum wellness, mental health, fitness, and positive lifestyle change. She holds University and College qualifications in the fields of Health Science, Nutrition, Mental Health, Fitness, Holistic Therapy and Aromatherapy.