New Soybeans Halve Saturated
Fat, Keep Nutrition
By Jill Lee
November 26, 1996
RALEIGH, N.C., Nov. 26--Two
new soybean breeding lines with less than half the saturated fat of regular
soybeans are ready to lend their genes to commercial varieties--good news for
health-conscious consumers concerned about soybean oils typical 16
percent saturated fat, a U.S. Department of
Agriculture scientist says.
These new varieties, N94-2575 and C1945, each have a total saturated fat
content of about 7 percent, said geneticist Joseph W. Burton of
USDAs Agricultural Research Service. Since soybean oil is now in
more than 75 percent of the vegetable oils and fats on the market, this could
help lots of consumers reduce the saturated fat in their diet.
Food and Drug Administration allows a product to be labeled low in
saturated fat if it contains one gram of saturated fat or less per
serving. To meet that standard, soybeans would have to be 7 percent saturated
fat or less.
Burton worked with James R. Wilcox at the ARS Crop Production and Pest
Control Research Unit in West Lafayette, Ind., to breed soybean plants
specifically to reduce the beans levels of a saturated fat called
palmitic acid. Research has shown palmitic acid and other saturated fats can
raise LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, contributing to heart disease.
National dietary guidelines recommend limiting daily consumption of saturated
fats to no more than 8 to 10 percent of total calories.
In these new varieties the palmitic acid is replaced with oleic acid, which
has some health benefits. In addition, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which
can actually lower cholesterol levels, are at 7 and 60 percent respectively--
essentially the same as regular soybeans.
The U.S. produces 15 billion pounds of soybean oil annually, with a market
value of about $4 billion. Soybeans are high in protein and other nutrients.
They also have isoflavones, which studies suggest have cancer-preventing
Theres a lot of good nutrition in soybeans. Their unsaturated
fatty acids are needed to help our cells stay healthy. But one thing we, and
our cells, dont need is more saturated fat, said biochemist
Norberta W. Schoene with the ARS Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville,
Plant breeders can obtain packets of 100 seeds of N94-2575 from Burton in
Raleigh, N.C. Seeds of C1943 are available from Wilcox at the West Lafayette,
Ind., laboratory. Burton said he will breed a commercial line of low-fat
soybeans which should be ready for growers in about three years.
N94-2575 is late-maturing and suited for southeastern breeders, while
C1943 matures a little earlier to meet the needs of Midwestern breeders,
said Wilcox. Both have excellent seed quality. Their yields are a little
lower than some commercial varieties, but they could work well for breeders who
want to develop a higher-yielding, low-fat soybean lines.
Scientific contact: Joseph W. Burton, Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation
Research, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Raleigh, N.C. 27695-7620, phone
(919) 515- 2734, or James R. Wilcox, Crop Production and Pest Control Research,
ARS-USDA, West Lafayette, Ind. 47907, phone (317) 494-8074.