Soybean Oil

By: Callie Pillsbury on Apr 16, 2018

In Asian countries, the soybean is a traditional protein staple. Soybeans contain high amounts of isoflavones, which are beneficial to health. Isoflavones are compounds derived from plants that give estrogenic activity. 

Isoflavones are available in a limited amount of foods, but soybeans have the highest quantity. The isoflavones present in soybeans are genistein, daidzein, and glycitein. The composition of the soybean is approximately 40% fat, 33% protein and 27% carbohydrates. Soy foods are a significant source of protein in most vegetarian diets. Soybeans are a nutrient dense food item, containing calcium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, and magnesium. In particular, the calcium content of soybeans is significantly higher compared to other types of beans. One-half cup of soybeans contains 200 mg of calcium. Soybeans are abundant in oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are composed of simple carbohydrates that may have potential to function as a prebiotic to increase the healthy bacteria in the gut. Soybeans are extremely versatile, by being utilized in meats, milk, flour, tofu, and even pressed into oil (1).

Soybean Oil

Soybean oil is extracted from soybeans. The production involves the beans being cracked, dehulled, toasted, followed by the extraction of the oil. Compared to soybeans, soybean oil is 100% fat, containing no protein or carbohydrates. Soybean oil is versatile because it has a neutral taste and odor. This allows the soybean oil to adapt to the taste of the food being used. Additionally, it is a great emulsifier.

Nutritional Properties of Soybean Oil


Soybean oil is unique in that vitamin E and K are are still contained in soybean oil after extraction. One tablespoon of soybean oil contains 1.1 mg of vitamin E and 25 mcg of vitamin K. Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin that protects the skin, and vitamin K helps in the blood clotting process.


Soybean oil is low is saturated fat and high in unsaturated fatty acids. A diet higher in unsaturated fats has been promoted to improve cholesterol and heart health. The most predominant fatty acid in soybean oil is linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. However, compared to other vegetable oils, soybean oil contains large amounts of linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. Omega 3 fatty acids have been researched to decrease the risk of chronic diseases (2).

Fatty acid composition of soybean oil (3).

Linoleic acid


Oleic acid


Palmitic acid


Linolenic acid


Stearic acid


Soybean Oil in Foods

In processed foods, soy lecithin is extracted from soybean oil and commonly used as an emulsifier. Soy bean oil is economical for food producers because it is relatively inexpensive. Additionally, it has a high smoke point of 460 °F, which makes it able to be utilized in fried foods. Soybean oil is used in margarine, salad dressing, mayonnaise, frozen foods, crackers, and baked goods (4). 

Spray Drying and Soybean Oil

Soybean oil can be microencapsulated and spray dried to be utilized many dry mix applications such as soups, baking mixes, and cheeses. The emulsifying capacity makes soybean oil not only utilized in the food industry, but also in the pharmaceutical industry where it aids in the sustaining the release of a drug (2).


1. Mangels, R., Messina, V., & Messina, M. (2012). The dietitians guide to vegetarian diets. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

2. Karasulu HY, Karasulu E, Büyükhelvacıgil M, et al. Soybean Oil: Production Process, Benefits and Uses in Pharmaceutical Dosage Form. 2011. doi:10.5772/18710.

3. Aydın RST, Hazer B, Acar M, Gümüşderelioğlu M (2013) Osteogenic activities of polymeric soybean oil-g-polystyrene membranes. Polym Bull 70:2065–2082

4. Soybean Oil Uses & Overview. Soyconnection. Published October 13, 2012. Accessed August 25, 2017