Now heart-healthy soybean oil

New Delhi: Providing good news for heart patients, researchers have developed a soybean variety that produces oil naturally low in saturated and trans fats.

Saturated and trans fats clog arteries, making it tough for the heart to pump. Unfortunately, their use is fairly common.

Now, a University of Missouri research team has developed a soybean which produces oil that is naturally low in saturated and trans fats.

"When we started this research, we were looking at three factors," said Kristin Bilyeu, researcher at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, University of Missouri, US.

"We needed a heart-healthy oil. It needed to be stable with a good shelf life. Finally, it needed to be economically feasible.

Oleic acid is a stable component of (soyabean) oil and is not a saturated fat... It is not a large component in soybean oil. We set out to help the soybean produce more oleic acid in the beans," said Bilyeu, according to a Missouri release.

Back in the 1970s, scientists discovered that saturated fats, which can be found in foods such as cream, cheese and butter, were bad for the heart.

While searching for a substitute, researchers targeted soybean oil. But because soybean oil spoiled when heated, producers had to hydrogenate the oil to keep it stable, thus creating trans fats.

Bilyeu and Grover Shannon, professor of plant sciences at the University of Missouri, developed a soybean oil that was very high in oleic acid, which not only stabilised the oil, but also made it healthier.

The natural breeding increased oleic acid in the bean from 20 per cent to 80 per cent and decreased the amount of saturated fat in the oil by 25 per cent.

Additionally, because the new oil is more stable, it doesn`t require hydrogenation, which typically rids the oil of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are good supplements for the human heart.

The next step of the research is determining whether this soybean will produce economically viable yields in different environments.