UCR

Institute for Integrative Genome Biology



Is GM Soybean Oil Healthier?


Poonamjot Deol, an assistant project scientist, and senior investigator and IIGB professor of cell biology and neuroscience Frances Sladek, found that GM soybean oil is just as unhealthy as regular soybean oil in that it also induces obesity, diabetes and fatty liver, although it does not cause insulin resistance – the inability to efficiently use the hormone insulin.

Soybean oil accounts for more than 90 percent of all the seed oil production in the United States. Naturally high in unsaturated fats, vegetable oils were once thought to be healthy, and were hydrogenated to increase their shelf-life and temperature stability. The hydrogenation, however, generated trans fats – now widely recognized as being unhealthy.

Soybean oil, the most common vegetable oil used in the United States, contains about 55 percent linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fat. To determine whether linoleic acid was responsible for the metabolic effects of soybean oil, the researchers designed a parallel diet in which regular soybean oil was replaced, on a per gram basis, with GM soybean oil. The GM soybean oil has a fatty acid composition (low linoleic acid) similar to that of olive oil. The GM plants were developed by DuPont to reduce trans fat production, increase soybean oil shelf life and create a generally healthier cooking oil.

Deol and the rest of the research team found to their surprise that the parallel diet containing GM soybean oil induced weight gain and fatty liver essentially identical to that of a diet with regular soybean oil, with the exception that the mice remained insulin sensitive and had somewhat less adipose (fat) tissue. “These results indicate that linoleic acid may contribute to insulin resistance and adiposity but that another as yet unidentified component of the soybean oil affects the liver and overall weight gain,” Deol said.

From their experiments, researchers also found that  mice fed a diet with either of the soybean oils had worse fatty liver, glucose intolerance and obesity than the group that got all their fat from coconut oil. “While the GM soybean oil may have fewer negative metabolic consequences than regular soybean oil, it may not necessarily be as healthy as olive oil, as has been assumed by its fatty acid composition, and it is certainly less healthy than coconut oil which is primarily saturated fat,” Sladek said. “It is important to understand the metabolic effects and health impact of the GM soybean oil before it is widely adopted as a healthier alternative to regular soybean oil. It is equally important to understand the health effects of regular soybean oil, which is ubiquitous in the American diet and seems to be much more detrimental to metabolic health than saturated fat.”

For additional information, please visit:


More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Genomics Information

Institute of Integrative Genome Biology
2150 Batchelor Hall

Tel: (951) 827-7177
E-mail: Aurelia Espinoza, Managing Director

Footer