High Oleic, Low Sat Fat Oil In Pipeline for Near Future

Lisa Kelly, MPH, RD

Americans consume more soybean oil than any other type of edible oil, consuming approximately 46 pounds of soybean oil per capita in 20101,2. The majority of this soybean oil (58%) is consumed as salad or cooking oil, which is typically commodity soybean oil that needs no further modification or processing. Approximately 23% is consumed as baking and frying fats, and these applications generally require greater stability from the oil. In the past, hydrogenation was among the techniques used to achieve the needed level of stability when using soybean oil for certain applications.

Today, the soybean industry is developing new varieties of soybeans that result in more stable oils that eliminate the need for hydrogenation, thus eliminating trans fat in the resulting products.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended reducing trans fat and saturated fat consumption, specifically by reducing the amount of hydrogenated oils and other solid fats consumed in some processed foods. The Guidelines also recommended substitution of fats high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (MUFAs and PUFAs) for sources of saturated fats.

High oleic is a new type of soybean oil that allows food companies to eliminate trans fats and lower saturated fat content in foods without sacrificing flavor. In the coming years, high oleic soybean oil may account for a significant portion of the fats and oils consumed through prepared foods that are fried or baked.

The fatty acid composition of commodity soybean oil is:
Saturated fat:  14%
Oleic acid:  24%
Linoleic acid: 54%
Linolenic acid: 7%

The fatty acid composition of high oleic soybean oil is:
Saturated fat:  7-12%
Oleic acid:  ≥75%
Linoleic acid: 8-15%
Linolenic acid: <3%

High oleic soybean oil has three times the MUFAs compared to conventional soybean oil. MUFAs, such as oleic acid, benefit heart health when eaten in moderation and when used to replace saturated fats or trans fats. MUFAs help reduce blood LDL-cholesterol levels3. And some studies have shown that MUFAs may reduce blood pressure4. A recent study suggests at least in the case of olive oil, which is high in MUFA, that oleic acid is the component responsible for the hypotensive effect5. In addition, replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated fat may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce plasma triglycerides, making it an important dietary modification for those at risk of metabolic syndrome6.

High oleic soybean oil is expected to be available in limited commercial quantities next year. Two companies are marketing the high oleic soybeans used to make the oil. Both were developed through agricultural biotechnology. Pioneer’s Plenish™ was approved last year by the United State  Department of Agriculture (USDA) for cultivation in the United States. Monsanto’s Vistive® Gold received FDA approval last year, and is now awaiting its final USDA de-regulation.

The United Soybean Board and QUALISOY are continuously working with academic researchers and industry experts to improve the nutritional profile and functional characteristics of soybean oil.

1. Soy Stats 2011, The American Soybean Association.
2. United States Census 2010, The U.S. Census Bureau.
3. Berglund L, Lefevre M, et al. Comparison of monounsaturated fat with carbohydrates as a replacement for saturated fat in subjects with a high metabolic risk profile: studies in the fasting and postprandial states. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;86(6):1611-20.
4. Terés S, Barceló-Coblijn G, Benet M, et al. Oleic acid content is responsible for the reduction in blood pressure induced by olive oil. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008 Sep 16;105(37):13811-6. Epub 2008 Sep 4.
5. Terés S, Barceló-Coblijn G, Benet M, et al. Oleic acid content is responsible for the reduction in blood pressure induced by olive oil. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008 Sep 16;105(37):13811-6. Epub 2008 Sep 4.
6. Riccardi G, Giacco R, Rivellese AA. Dietary fat, insulin sensitivity and the metabolic syndrome. Clin Nutr. 2004 Aug;23(4):447-56.