The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently decided to allow a qualified health claim linking the consumption of soybean oil to reduced risk of coronary heart disease and lower LDL-cholesterol. The decision was based on a comprehensive review of the clinical data.
The FDA has allowed the use of a qualified health claim on certain products made with soybean oil. The claim states, “Supportive, but not conclusive scientific evidence, suggests that eating about 1½ tablespoons (20.5 grams) daily of soybean oil, which contains unsaturated fat, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. To achieve this possible benefit, soybean oil is to replace saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.” Packaging must say this: “One serving of this product contains ___ grams of soybean oil.”
"Hopefully, the FDA claim will bring public awareness to the coronary benefits of soybean oil that dietitians and nutritionists have recognized for a long time," said Mark Messina, executive director of the Soy Nutrition Institute, a private non-profit organization dedicated to providing evidence-based information on the impact of soybeans and soy components on human health.
Soybean oil has a favorable fatty acid composition, being comprised predominantly of polyunsaturated fat, and contains no trans fat and just 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. It is also a major contributor to the U.S. intake of omega-3 fatty acids.1,2 Food companies will be permitted to use the claim on soybean oil and most products that are predominantly soybean oil (e.g., soy oil blends and shortenings, margarines/spreads and salad dressings) if they have less than a specified level of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Other products that contain at least 5 grams of soybean oil, at least one of six beneficial nutrients identified by the FDA, and meet certain specifications for saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium can also use the claim.
1. Vannice G & Rasmussen H (2014) Position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics: dietary fatty acids for healthy adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 114, 136-153.
2. Blasbalg TL, Hibbeln JR, Ramsden CE, Majchrzak SF, Rawlings RR. “Changes in consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the United States during the 20th century.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2011; 93:950-62.