This cooking oil can cause genetic changes in your brain: study

Widely consumed soybean oil not only leads to obesity and diabetes, but can also affect neurological conditions such as autism, Alzheimer's disease, anxiety and depression, researchers at the University of California Riverside report, including one of Indian origin

In a study in mice, scientists found pronounced effects of soybean oil on the hypothalamus, where a series of critical processes take place.

The research team discovered almost 100 genes, including the 'love hormone' oxytocin produced in the hypothalamus, affected by the soybean oil diet.

The hypothalamus regulates body weight through its metabolism, maintains body temperature, is essential for reproduction and physical growth, as well as its response to stress, said Margarita Curras-Collazo, associate professor of neuroscience and lead author of the published study in the Endocrinology Magazine. The research team has not yet isolated which chemicals in the oil are responsible for the changes they found in the hypothalamus.

But they have ruled out two candidates. It is not linoleic acid, since the modified oil also produced genetic alterations; Nor is stigmasterol, a chemical similar to cholesterol found naturally in soybean oil, the study noted.

Identifying the compounds responsible for the negative effects is an important area for future team research. This could help design healthier dietary oils in the future, said Poonamjot Deol, first author of the study.

If there is a message that I want people to take, it is this: reduce the consumption of soybean oil, Deol added. The team compared mice fed three different high-fat diets: soybean oil, soybean oil modified to be low in linoleic acid and coconut oil.

They believe that this discovery could have ramifications not only for energy metabolism, but also for proper brain function and diseases such as autism or Parkinson's disease. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is no evidence that the oil causes these diseases, the authors wrote.

The same research team discovered in 2015 that soy oil induces obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance and fatty liver in mice. Then, in a 2017 study, the same group learned that if soybean oil is designed to be low in linoleic acid, it induces less obesity and insulin resistance. The team said the findings only apply to soybean oil, not other soy products or other vegetable oils.

Don't throw away your tofu, soy milk, edamame or soy sauce, said Frances Sladek, a toxicologist at the UCR and a professor of cell biology.

Many soy products only contain small amounts of oil and large amounts of healthy compounds such as essential fatty acids and proteins. This study used male mice. Because oxytocin is so important for maternal health and promotes mother-child bonding, similar studies should be conducted with female mice.

Coconut oil, which contains saturated fats, produced very few changes in the hypothalamic genes, the researchers said.