New Study Confirms Soybean Oil Is Unhealthy And It Causes Genetic Changes In the Brain
in the brain
occur as a result of consuming soybean oil
according to a new emerging research study. A team of medical scientists and researchers from University Of California, Riverside (UCR) have shown that soybean oil
not only leads to obesity
, but could also affect neurological conditions
, Alzheimer's disease
, and depression
Often used for fast food frying, added to packaged foods, and fed to livestock, soybean oil
is by far the most widely produced and consumed edible oil in the U.S. and also globally according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In all likelihood, it is not healthy for humans.
It is definitely not good for mice. The new study, published this month in the journal Endocrinology
, compared mice fed three different diets high in fat: soybean oi
l, soybean oil
modified to be low in linoleic acid, and coconut oil.
In 2015, the same UCR research team found that soybean oil
, diabetes, insulin resistance
, and fatty liver in mice. Then in a 2017 study, the same group learned that if soybean oil
is engineered to be low in linoleic acid, it induces less obesity
and insulin resistance
In the new study released this month however, researchers did not find any difference between the modified and unmodified soybean oil
's effects on the brain
. Specifically, the scientists found pronounced effects of the oil on the hypothalamus, where a number of critical processes take place.
Dr Margarita Curras-Collazo, a UCR associate professor of neuroscience and lead author on the study told Thailand Medical
News, "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."
The research team determined a number of genes in mice fed soybean oil
were not functioning correctly. One such gene
produces the "love" hormone, oxytocin. In soybean oil
-fed mice, levels of oxytocin in the hypothalamus went down.
The study team discovered roughly 100 other genes
also affected by the soybean oil
diet. They believe this discovery 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.
Furthermore, the team notes the findings only apply to soybean oil
not to other soy products or to other vegetable oils.
Dr Frances Sladek, a UCR toxicologist and Professor of Cell Biology told Thailand Medical News
, "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. It is only the soybean oil
that contains a high proportion of the toxic compounds.”
An important caveat for readers concerned about their most recent meal is that this study was conducted on mice, and mouse studies sometimes do not translate to the same results in humans. Furthermore, this study utilized male mice. Because oxytocin is so important for maternal health and promotes mother-child bonding, similar studies need to be performed using female mice.
One significant note on this study, the research team has not yet isolated which chemicals in the soyabean oil
are responsible for the changes they found in the hypothalamus. But they have ruled out two candidates. It is not linoleic acid, since the modified oil also produced gene disruptions; nor is it stigmasterol, a cholesterol-like chemical found naturally in soybean oil
An important area for the team's future research is identifying the compounds responsible for the negative effects is "This could help design healthier dietary oils in the future," said Dr Poonamjot Deol, an Assistant Project Scientist in Dr Sladek's laboratory and first author on the study.
Dr Sladek added,"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."
It has been seen in past studies that coconut oil, which contains saturated fats, produced very few changes in the hypothalamic genes
Dr Deol said about the most recent study, "If there's one message I want people to take away, it's this: reduce consumption of soybean oil."
Reference : Poonamjot Deol et al, Dysregulation of Hypothalamic Gene Expression and the Oxytocinergic System by Soybean Oil Diets in Male Mice, Endocrinology (2020). DOI: 10.1210/endocr/bqz044