Soybean oil is a vegetable oil that’s extracted from the seeds of the soybean plant.
Between 2018 and 2019, around 62 million tons (56 million metric tons) of soybean oil were produced around the globe, making it one of the most common cooking oils available (1). It’s also incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of cooking methods, including frying, baking, and roasting. Plus, it’s been linked to several health benefits, especially when it comes to your heart, skin, and bones.
Here are 6 benefits of soybean oil.
- High smoke point
The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which fats start to break down and oxidize. This results in the formation of harmful, disease-causing compounds called free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress in the body (2).
Soybean oil has a relatively high smoke point of about 450°F (230°C). For reference, unrefined extra-virgin olive oil has a smoke point of about 375°F (191°C), while canola oil has a smoke point of 428–450°F (220–230°C) (3, 4).
This makes soybean oil a good option for high-heat cooking methods like roasting, baking, frying, and sautéing, as it can withstand high temperatures without breaking down.
- Rich in heart-healthy fats
In fact, studies show that swapping saturated fats for polyunsaturated fats in your diet could be linked to a lower risk of heart disease. One large review of 8 studies showed that when participants replaced 5% of their total daily calories from saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat, they ran a 10% lower risk of heart disease (7).
Trading saturated fats for polyunsaturated fats may also reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which is a major risk factor for heart disease (8). Moreover, soybean oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease (9).
- May support bone health
Just 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of soybean oil packs 25 mcg of vitamin K, knocking out around 20% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) in a single serving (5).
While vitamin K is perhaps best known for its effect on blood clotting, it also plays a vital role in regulating bone metabolism. Research shows that vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis of specific proteins that are crucial for maintaining bone mass, such as osteocalcin (10).
According to one study in 2,591 people, lower intakes of vitamin K were associated with decreased bone mineral density in women(11). Another 2-year study in 440 women found that taking 5 mg of vitamin K daily was linked to a lower risk of bone fractures (12).
What’s more, one animal study showed that giving soybean oil to rats for 2 months reduced markers of inflammation and helped balance mineral levels in the blood and bones, suggesting that it may help prevent bone loss (13). However, additional large, high-quality studies are needed to evaluate the effects of soybean oil on bone health in humans.
- Contains omega-3 fatty acids
Some types of soybean oil are also enriched with stearidonic acid. This plant based source of omega-3 fatty acids is thought to be more sustainable and practical than other sources, such as fish (14).
According to a 12-week study in 252 people, consuming a soybean oil capsule and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of soybean oil enriched with stearidonic acid per day increased blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids (15).
Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to a number of health benefits and play an integral role in heart health, fetal development, brain function, and immunity (16). Upping your intake of omega-3 fatty acids can also help reduce inflammation, which is thought to be involved in the development of chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes (17, 18).
However, keep in mind that this oil contains a higher proportion of omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids (5). While you do need both types, most people get too much omega-6 fatty acids in their diet and not enough omega-3s. This can contribute to inflammation and chronic disease (19).
For this reason, it’s best to pair soybean oil with a variety of other foods that also contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts.
- Promotes skin health
Soybean oil can often be spotted on the ingredient lists of skin care serums, gels, and lotions — and for good reason. Some research shows that soybean oil may benefit skin health.
For instance, one study in six people showed that applying this oil to their skin enhanced its natural barrier to help retain moisture (20). Another study found that topically applying soybean oil helped protect against skin inflammation caused by ultraviolet radiation (21).
Soybean oil also contains vitamin E, an anti-inflammatory nutrient that can support skin health (5, 22). Studies show that vitamin E may protect against skin damage and help treat certain skin conditions, such as acne and atopic dermatitis (22, 23).
- Versatile and easy to use
Soybean oil has a mild, neutral taste that can fit seamlessly into nearly any recipe that calls for cooking oil. It works especially well paired with vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper to make an easy salad dressing.
Thanks to its high smoke point, it can be used in place of other cooking oils for high-heat cooking methods like frying, baking, roasting, or sautéing. Simply use it in place of other ingredients, such as olive oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil, in your favorite recipes.
Apart from cooking with soybean oil, you can apply it to your hair or skin to act as a natural moisturizer. Furthermore, some people use it as a carrier oil to dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin.
The bottom line
Soybean oil is a common type of cooking oil that has been associated with several health benefits. In particular, it may help promote skin health, reduce cholesterol levels, prevent bone loss, and provide important omega-3 fatty acids. What’s more, it has a high smoke point and neutral flavor, making it easy to incorporate into a variety of recipes as part of a healthy diet.