Olive oil is often considered the king (or queen) of baking and cooking oils. But, surprisingly, it’s not the top or most used oil in America. Holding steady in the number one spot is…
And it’s not even close!
Rounding out the top five are rapeseed oil, palm oil, coconut oil, and then olive oil.
So, why is soybean oil so popular? And how is it different from the other major edible oils? When baking or cooking, which ones are best to use? Below, we dig into the answers to these questions and more.
Why soybean oil is so popular
In a word, it comes down to price. Soybean has historically been one of the cheaper vegetable oils out there, so cost-conscious consumers have gravitated toward it over the years. What’s more, since soybean oil is a major US cash crop, it’s readily available in bulk. That particularly matters as global supply chains remain strained and droughts in Spain and other major olive oil producers recently drove olive oil prices to a 26-year high.
What’s more, soybean oil is extensively used in US-produced biofuels, so it’s a critical part of energy independence for us.
With the combination of its lower price, its use in domestically-produced biofuels, and its ready availability – I think we can all comfortably say that soybean oil will probably remain the dominant vegetable oil in the US for the foreseeable future.
But is it better than its less-popular cousins?
Comparing soybean oil vs coconut oil vs olive oil
Soybean oil is derived from whole soybeans, where the oil is separated from the bean and distilled and refined. Similarly, coconut oil is made by pressing coconut meat and producing an oil. In contrast, olive oil is made from olives, and centrifugation is used to separate the solid paste from the oil.
Interestingly, they all have very similar nutritional values, particularly when it comes to their macronutrient (carbs, fats, and protein) content. They also have similar caloric values, but I’ll cover that in more detail below.
Differences between the oils
As mentioned above, these oils are all made from different starting points, with soybean oil derived from soybeans, coconut oil made from coconut meat, and olive oil made from olives. This gives way to slightly different flavors. In particular, coconut oil has a more nutty and noticeable taste when compared to the ever-popular soybean oil and coconut oil. However, coconut oil makes wonderful fudge and many more baked goods or treats. Of course, if you choose to use refined coconut oil, you won’t notice the taste difference as much.
While all are used for baking, according to the statistics, soybean oil is the most commonly used one in the United States. Soybean oil can also be used for frying food items, such as for a stirfry. However, olive oil and soybean oil are often used for similar purposes as well.
Baking with different oils
These major oils are all pretty interchangeable. You can swap any of these oils at a 1:1 ratio pretty easily in most recipes. The one thing you may want to be careful about is the taste, as coconut oil will add a nutty flavor, but soybean oil and olive oil won’t add almost any extra flavor.
Coconut oil is also a popular choice for adding to one’s morning cup of coffee, as it has immune-boosting effects and energy-enhancing effects!
Soybean oil vs coconut oil vs olive oil nutritional facts
|Per 1 tablespoon serving||Soybean oil||Coconut oil||Olive oil|
|Carbs||0 g||0 g||0 g|
|Fiber||0 g||0 g||0 g|
|Fat||14 g||14 g||14 g|
|Protein||0 g||0 g||0 g|
Soybean oil contains more than just fat! It also is a great source of vitamin E. However, it is important to note that the majority of the fat in soybean oil is unsaturated fat. Specifically, it contains plenty of omega-3s which are often raved about for their health benefits.
In comparison, coconut oil doesn’t contain any significant vitamins or minerals and is higher in saturated fats. Olive oil, meanwhile, contains some iron and is comprised of monounsaturated fatty acids, which may have some heart benefits.
The stats would say yes! However, this comes down to what is meant by “better.” If you’re referring to healthy fat content, soybean wins here.
Yes, you can easily substitute olive oil for soybean oil and vice versa.