Genetically modified soybean oil may take a toll on liver function: study

Genetically modified soybean oil may take a toll on liver function: study
Click for full image
Photo: AFP

Washington: Busting the myth that genetically modified (GM) soybean oil is healthier than soybean oil, a team of researchers has recently warned that it’s harmful to liver function.

According to University Of California – Riverside researchers, while soybean oil induces less obesity and insulin resistance than soybean oil, but its effects on diabetes and fatty liver are similar to those of soybean oil.

The team tested Plenish®, a genetically-modified (GM) soybean oil released by DuPont in 2014.
Plenish is engineered to have low linoleic acid, resulting in an oil similar in composition to olive oil, the basis of the Mediterranean diet and considered to be healthful.

They compared the long-term metabolic effects of soybean oil to those of Plenish.

The study also compares both soybean oil and Plenish to coconut oil, which is rich in saturated fatty acids and causes the least amount of weight gain among all the high-fat diets tested.

Lead researcher said Frances Sladek found that all three oils raised the cholesterol levels in the liver and blood, dispelling the popular myth that soybean oil reduces cholesterol levels.

Next, the researchers compared Plenish to olive oil. Both oils have high oleic acid, a fatty acid believed to reduce blood pressure and help with weight loss.

“In our mouse experiments, olive oil produced essentially identical effects as Plenish – more obesity than coconut oil, although less than soybean oil- and very fatty livers, which was surprising as olive oil is typically considered to be the healthiest of all the vegetable oils,” said another researcher Poonamjot Deol.

Plenish, which has a fatty acid composition similar to olive oil, induced hepatomegaly, or enlarged livers, and liver dysfunction, just like olive oil.”

“Our findings do not necessarily relate to other soybean products like soy sauce, tofu, or soy milk – products that are largely from the water-soluble compartment of the soybean; oil, on the other hand, is from the fat-soluble compartment,” Sladek said.

The research appears in Nature Scientific Reports journal.