Fructose in both its natural form (fruit) and its excessively concentrated form (high fructose corn syrup) have recently received the reputation of being fattening.
In fact, high fructose corn syrup is often blamed for much of the world’s diabetes epidemic.
However, during a study in which they were trying to prove this, researchers reached a surprising conclusion.
They found a food type that posed an even larger diabetes risk.
In fact, the surprising culprit is often found in numerous kitchens belonging to health-conscious people’s and is sold as a healthy food option by many restaurants.
Of fructose, soybean oil, and coconut oil, most people believe that fructose is the most fattening, followed by coconut oil, followed by soybean oil. A logical assumption, since fructose is sugar, coconut oil is a saturated fat (the vegan equivalent of a cup of cream), and soybean oil is a healthy polyunsaturated fat.
If asked this question, a large section of the academic community would have answered that both the oils were more fattening than the fructose, as it has long been understood that fat contains almost twice as many calories per gram, when compared to carbohydrates. Thus, from most to least fattening, they would have predicted coconut oil, then soybean oil, then fructose.
But what no one could have predicted the discovery a new study just made.
Academics at the University of California Riverside wanted to prove that coconut oil caused more weight gain than soybean oil. They fed some mice a diet that contained 40% fat, which is approximately the amount of fat the average American diet contains. The first group of mice received their 40% of fat in the form of soybean oil, and the second received theirs via coconut oil.
Since the researchers also wanted to compare the weight gain of the high soybean oil and high coconut oil eaters against the weight gain of high fructose eaters, they stuffed some of the mice with an equivalent amount of fructose that would be consumed by the average American.
This is what they found:
• The soybean oil eaters gained the most weight. They gained approximately 25% more weight than the coconut oil-eating mice and 9% more than the fructose-eating mice.
• The fructose eaters gained the second highest amount of weight. They gained 12% more than the coconut oil-eating mice.
• The coconut oil-eating mice put on the least weight.
However, these weren’t the worst findings. Here are more findings:
• Compared to the coconut oil eaters, soybean oil eaters suffered higher levels of insulin resistance and had a fatty liver with signs of liver injury. These are all characteristics of type 2 diabetes.
• Compared to the oil eaters, the fructose eaters suffered higher levels of kidney damage and had prolapsed rectums, a symptom of inflammatory bowel disease.
In other words, if you want to avoid inflammatory bowel disease, cut all fructose that is not from a fruit out of your diet, and if you want diabetes to pass you by, exclude soybean oil.
Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it sounds.
When researchers in the 1960s concluded that animal fats were unhealthy, food manufacturers switched to vegetable oils when making everything from margarine, to potato chips, and salad dressings. Unsurprisingly, they picked one of the cheapest vegetable oils available for this purpose, which happened to be soybean oil.
As a result, almost all pre-made and packaged foods contain soybean oil, a factor that obviously explains why type 2 diabetes is such a massive and increasingly widespread problem today.
In fact, our food selection is further complicated by the fact that scientists are still unsure as to which oil they should recommend. The authors of the above study specifically warned that they were not recommending saturated fat (like coconut oil) above polyunsaturated fat (like soybean oil), as they had not studied the cardiovascular effects of either.
So, for now, the best approach would be to reduce your intake of soybean oil, since you know it is a diabetes risk. I personally would also recommend replacing it with olive oil and coconut oil.