STUDY: America’s Most-Consumed Cooking Oil Causes Brain Damage

Soybean oil reduces oxytocin and contributes to autism, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, and depression, researchers find

French fries cooked in soybean oil could lead to more than obesity and diabetes, according to a new study. Researchers from University of California say it could also effect neurological conditions like autism, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, and depression.

Whether it’s used to deep fry, added to packaged foods, or fed to livestock, soybean oil is by far the most consumed oil in the country, according to the USDA.

In the study, mice were fed three different types of fat: soybean oil, soybean oil modified to be low in linoleic acid, and coconut oil. While coconut oil had negligible effects on the brain, soybean oil caused genes in the hypothalamus to malfunction.

“The hypothalamus regulates body weight via your metabolism, maintains body temperature, is critical for reproduction and physical growth as well as your response to stress,” said Margarita Curras-Collazo, a UC Riverside associate professor of neuroscience and lead author on the study.

For example, in mice fed soybean oil, oxytocin levels were reduced. Often referred to as the “love” hormone, oxytocin promotes those “fuzzy” feelings of  social bonding and well-being.

Researchers also discovered that roughly 100 other genes were effected by the soybean oil diet. This could have major ramifications not only on energy metabolism, but on proper brain function, especially for people who suffer from diseases like autism or Parkinson’s, the researchers warn.

“The dogma is that saturated fat is bad and unsaturated fat is good. Soybean oil is a polyunsaturated fat, but the idea that it’s good for you is just not proven,” said Frances Sladek, a UC Riverside toxicologist and professor of cell biology.

“If there’s one message I want people to take away, it’s this: reduce consumption of soybean oil,” said Poonamjot Deol, an assistant project scientist in Sladek’s laboratory and author on the study.

If you’re nervous about the soy food in your house, note their findings were based only on the oils alone. There’s only a small amount of oil in the food and large amounts of healthful compounds, like essential fatty acids and proteins. So don’t throw away your tofu or edamame just yet.