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Soya Oil

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Soya oil - Glycine max, Glycine soja, Glycine hispida

Glycine max, Glycine soja, Glycine hispida

Family: Leguminosae

Also known as soja, soybean and soy oil. Hispida from the latin hispidus means bristly, coarse, having short stiff hairs. Glycine is from the Greek glukus meaning sweet, as the leaves and roots of some species are sweet.

The Plant and its Environment
The soya bean was not used in the western hemisphere until the late 19th century, although grown in China for some 5000 years; it was referred to in Chinese Materia Medica over 4500 years ago and because of this long continuous use and development there are now several hundred varieties.

First impoted into England in 1908, it is now one of the world's most important oilseed crops. The soya plant grows to about 1.2 meters (4 feet) and bears hairy pods, each pod containing 3 or 4 yellow beans. The United States is now the largest exporter and they grow 60% of the world's 110 million ton harvest of soya beans. It is also grown in china, Brazil and japan.

Method of Extraction
Soya beans have a comparatively low oil content (17-20%) and thus the oil is obtained commercially by solvent extraction.

Principal Constituents

 Type  Base On   Content - %
 Saturated fatty acids    15-18
 Typical saturated fatty acid content    17
 Monounsaturated fatty acids    
 C18: 1  oleic acid  19-26
 Typical monosaturated fatty acid content    23
 Polyunsaturated fatty acids     
 C18: 2  linoleic acid  50-55
 C18: 3  alpha-linolenic acid   6-9
Typical polysaturated fatty acid content     60

 Soya bean oil is high in unsaturated fatty acids (25%) mono-unsaturated (oleic) and 56% polyunsaturated);

Physical Properties

 Peroxide value (meq/k oil)  1.0 max.
 Colour (Lovibond 5,25" cell)  1.5 red max.
 Iodine value (wijs)  125-140
 Saponification value  180-200
 Energy value Kcal/100 ml  898

Vitamin Content

Soya bean oil is a good source of vitamin E, although not as rich as wheatgerm or sunflower oils. Soya beans contain vitamins A and B complex and soya is one of the few foods to have all 22 health giving amino acids (Bartram 1995).The seeds also contain appreciable amounts of phytosterols (stigmasterol and sitosterol) which are used for synthesizing steroids. 

Therapeutic Properties Internal Use
Soya beans are free of cholesterol, rich in lecithin, and have a low content of saturated fats. This makes it an easily assimilated oil, helpful against arteriosclerosis and cholesterol build up. Purified soybean oil is used in pharmacy for parenteral feeding (Bruneton 1995).

Cosmetic Use
Soya oil is used in manufacturing soaps, shampoos, bath oils, margarine.

Culinary Uses
The beans, being high in protein (soya beans are sometimes known as boneless meat') and containing vitamin A and B complex, constitute an important food source for many people throughout the world. The beans and the oil are especially important to vegetarians as from them can be made flour, tofu, tempeh, miso, and soya milk and cheese.

The strongly flavoured soya sauce ( which contains a high proportion of salt) is produced from fermented beans. The oil is unsuitable for frying because of its high content of polyunsaturates; the main use for this oil is dietary. Soya oil is used in the manufacture of margarine.

Folk-lore and Traditional Plant remedies
Originally used only for soap and for burning in lamps. Also used for adhesives, plastics, paper size, textile fibre, animal food, paint, printing inks and fertilizer.

Cautionary notes
On the debit side soya oil is prone to oxidation and may cause allergic reactions, pimples and hair damage. Much soya is now genetically modified.

Reference: Carrier Oils For Aromatherapy & Massage: Len Price with Ian Smith & Shirley Price

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