To begin with, a lot of refined soybean oil myths and misconceptions started with the influence of the west. As you must have noticed, a large part of support regarding the health benefits of soy comes from the west. It is the west that has come to overhype the health benefits of refined soybean oil in the recent years. But, do you know why? The real reason behind all this is that soy industry is one of the most profitable industries in the west.
Multiple researches have proven that refined soybean oil is not healthy. But, there are also some industry driven researches proving that the refined version of soybean oil is good for health. You must know that these are the same industries whose sole motive is to earn profit by selling these oils.
Impact of Refining Process on Oils
As far as Indian history is concerned, refined oils were never a part of its culture. In India, there was only a custom of using cold pressed and organic oils made by the local people. The oil that was extracted in those days did not undergo any refining process; and this is exactly what made it the best oil for consumption. But, nowadays, the refining process has reached its peak. It has increased so much that almost 95% of nutrition value of the oil is dead. It happens due to multiple industrial processes such as bleaching, deodorizing etc. So, gradually, a lot of people in India have too switched to using refined oils under the western influence. These days, soybean oil is extensively used in mayonnaise, salad dressings, paints, inks and many other industrial objects.
One of the most common refined soybean oil myths is that it is a “magical food”, because it is made from soy. There is no doubt about the fact that soy has its many health benefits. But, soybeans become useless once they undergo multiple refined processes like bleaching and deodorization. You must know that the refined version of any oil has the worst effects on health.
Tracing the History of Refined Soybean Oil Myths and Misconceptions
Now let’s go back in time and find out the reason why refined soybean oil became so popular worldwide. Refined soybean oil first gained popularity around the First World War. At that time, Europe was finding a cheaper and durable replacement for flax seed oil. Those days, there were two large benefits of producing refined soybean oil in the industries. Firstly, it did not only cost cheaper, but also ended up providing a lot of animal feed through it’s by product. It cost them cheaper as they did not require replacing their old machinery. So they continued using the same machines for the production of these oils.
Being the largest producers of soybean in the world, Manchuria became an export hub to create refined Soybean oil. By 1945, refined Soybean oil became the most highly used oil in the entire US. The reason why refined soybean oil is so popular in the world today is all because of the stupid myths spread by the US.
Even during this period, the refined version of soybean oil was not as harmful as it has become today. It was still raw to some extent, and even smelled like paint when consumed. It was only after the industrial revolution that the refined version of soybean oil completely lost all its natural benefits. And today, this is undoubtedly one of the worst oils in the world.
“So, now, the final oil that you get after multiple refined processes is completely devoid of benefits; as its natural properties are replaced with chemical processes”
Shelf Life of Oils
The reason why companies do not extract these oils through a cold press process is because of its limited shelf life. Cold press oils usually expire within a few months. So, in case the sales of these oils are low then it is the companies that have to bear the loss. This is exactly why, companies use refining processes and add multiple chemicals to make these oils last for about 2-3 years.
Refined Soybean Oil & Omega 6 – Good or Bad?
Another misconception about this oil is that it is really good for health as it is rich in omega 6 fatty acids. But, you must know that omega 6 fatty acids are pro inflammatory in nature. So, the more omega 6 you consume, the more inflammation it causes in the body. The human body needs the right balance of omega 6 and omega 3 to function properly, which should be in ratio of 1:1. But, with the popularity of processed foods, our intake of omega 6 has overpowered the consumption of omega 3; making it a ratio of 1:15 or 1:20. When omega 3, which is anti-inflammatory in nature, less in proportion to the pro-inflammatory omega 6; your body is likely to have side effects.
This is something that companies producing refined oils will not tell their consumers, as their ultimate aim is to make money. So, these companies sell these oils by claiming them to be high in poly-unsaturated fats. Whereas, in reality, the major issue with these oils is that these are extremely high in omega 6, which is more than what your body needs.
Refined Soybean Oil & the West
It is quite a well known fact that it is America that promoted the use of refined oils in the first place. And now, you also know that America has the largest number of obese people in the world. This clearly shows that all claims made by the US about the health benefits of refined soybean oils were false. And it is high time that we Indians bring back the use of our traditional cold pressed oils like mustard oil and coconut oils back in day to day needs.
Over time, the US was successful in spreading misconceptions about the use of saturated fats. This is exactly why; we Indians have stopped consuming healthy fats like, ghee, butter, mustard oil, coconut oil in our daily lives that were once part of our culture. Now, we have replaced all these good fat sources with third grade hydrogenated refined oils that are currently available in the market. For thousands of years, we were consuming the right kind of fats. But, in the recent 40-50 years, we have suddenly become a victim of the propaganda by the US.
It was America that advocated the use of refined oils all over the world, and now it is America itself that that became a victim of it. American propaganda was to make believe that refined oils are good for the heart. But, researches have proven that all these claims were entirely wrong.
Indian Activist Vandana Shiva’s View on Traditional Use of Oils in India
Indian activist, Vandana Shiva wrote many books like, “The Stolen Harvest” that talk about this particular controversy. According to her, for thousands of years, Indians used to consume locally produced oils. But, today, most of these oils are being replaced by the refined oils available in the market. For example, in South, most people consume coconut oil. Similarly, in Maharashtra region, there is a wide use of peanut or groundnut oil; whereas, people in the northern region of India widely consume mustard oil, ghee or butter.
In fact in the earlier times, mustard oil was extensively used for body or hair massage, as a mosquito repellant, as well as for lighting oil lamps. You must know that all these oils were unrefined and cold pressed oils that were produced locally, unlike refined oils that undergo multiple industrial processes. Vandana Shiva also says in her books that in India, mustard oil was produced in limited quantities, as per the limited needs of the locals. The reason behind this is that local oils have a limited shelf life, and cannot be stored for a long period. So, in India, we always had a tradition of producing and consuming fresh foods that used to keep the nutrients intact.
Dropsy Outbreak in India
Today, we have so many processed foods available in the market that have a long shelf life. The reason why they can be stored for a long time is because they undergo a lot of chemical processes and have so many preservatives and additives in them. All this started to happen a few decades back, when suddenly a disease named “dropsy” erupted in very mysterious conditions in different parts of India. It was even believed to be an industry scam that was purposely created with the help of government.
It was after the outbreak of “dropsy” that the Indian government regulated the production of all locally produced oils. Ultimately, the production of local oils was banned and the entire production process in India was industrialized. This ban really hit hard the people who were producing local oil in India till now. On the other hand, this ban opened up various profit-earning opportunities for the industrialist class.
Gradually, our traditional oils were replaced by cheap and third grade refined soybean oils. But, it’s a big relief that a lot of activists are coming forward to disclose this scam and take us back to our traditions.
What Does Research Say About the Impact of Refined Oils?
In 2012, a research backed up by the University of California disclosed something really important. The research claimed that spreading a scare of heart diseases in relation to saturated fats was a planned strategy by the US. It was around 1950’s that the US released certain guidelines about the health risks associated with locally produced saturated oils. It said that locally produced oils were extremely unhealthy and this is why people must immediately switch to refined oils.
All they wanted to do is to boost the profits by exporting massive amounts of refined oils all over the world. But, today, it has been proven that most of these recommendations were wrong. As a result of which so many people had to suffer worldwide. In reality, all locally produced oils are really good for health and help in reducing the risk of heart diseases. But, unfortunately, this generation of medical community is also influenced by industry led researches that shun all locally produced oils.
In the same study by the University of California; scientists found that refined soybean oil had a very damaging effect on the metabolism rate of mice, unlike coconut oil. Research also proves that an access of omega 6 in the body is linked to a lot of lifestyle diseases; be it obesity, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, fatty liver, Alzheimer’s etc. To add to it, a 2013 study on rats by Indian scientists also highlighted the side effects of refined oils. The study highlighted that the group of rats that was given ghee developed anti cancer and anti tumor properties; unlike the group of rats that was given refined soybean oil.
It’s quite clear that all the myths about the health benefits of refined soybean oil were propaganda by the west. They did it for their industrial gains, and now it’s time to realize this truth. Therefore, if you have been using refined soybean oil or for that matter any other refined version of oil; now is the time to stop this practice and think about the well being of your loved ones.