We're used to being told that if we want to be healthy, we need to stay away from sugar. But new research suggests that another ingredient used in many everyday foods might actually be a worse culprit than the sweet stuff when it comes to weight gain. A recent study out of the University of California at Riverside found that soybean oil, one of the most commonly used vegetable oils, could in fact be the body's new number one enemy.
The study, published in the journal PLoS One, tested various diets on mice. Two of the diets included fructose, the type of sugar commonly associated with diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Researchers had originally assumed that the diets containing fructose would cause subjects to develop poorer insulin resistance and increase body fat. To their surprise, the mice eating the soybean oil without fructose gained the most body fat and overall weight.
On average, mice eating the diet rich in soybean oil gained nine percent more weight than the fructose-eating mice. Furthermore, compared to their sugar-eating counterparts, the mice who ate the soybean oil diet had higher insulin resistance as well as fattier livers, which can signal future problems with diabetes and metabolic ailments associated with liver function.
Soybean oil is found in many packaged foods, and it's the type of oil most commonly used in restaurant kitchens. "This was a major surprise for us, that soybean oil is causing more obesity and diabetes than fructose, especially when you see headlines every day about the potential role of sugar consumption in the current obesity epidemic," said Poonamjot Deol, one of the project's lead researchers.
And what's more, the mice consuming the soybean oil diet also gained a significant 25 percent more weight than the mice eating a high-fat diet that was rich in coconut oil. The coconut-oil-eating mice also had better insulin resistance and healthier livers than their counterparts. Generally speaking, coconut oil is now being praised by health professionals as one of the most beneficial oils out there for overall health, offering essential fatty acids like medium-chain triglycerides, which have been shown to improve fat-burning while increasing energy levels. As it turns out, it's not that hard to incorporate coconut oil into your diet — try cooking with it, or even add the raw oil to your morning coffee.
Next, learn about the tastiest superfoods that can help you live longer: