Olive Oil vs Soybean Oil: Which of the Oils is Better?

Part of my job as a Certified Health Coach is to inform people about healthy oils. Olive oil and soybean oil are two oils commonly mentioned. A typical question asked, is soybean oil better than olive oil?

Olive oil is better than soybean oil due to its higher percentage of minerals, antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats. It contains calcium and potassium which soybean oils doesn’t. Olive oil is less refined and processed. Olive oil has a stronger, more desirable flavor and taste.

This article will start with the differences between the two oils. Then I’ll include a side-by-side nutrient comparison and their health benefits. In addition, I’ll take a close look at whether one can substitute for the other, their prices, tastes, smoke points and storage.

The Differences

As a Certified Health Coach many clients ask me about food comparisons including oils. Also, I purchase and consume olive oil every day. Therefore, I have researched this topic in the past and present. Let’s examine both oils closely.

They’re both cooking oils but what is the difference between them?

Soybean oil is made by extracting oil from whole soybeans. Olive oil is made by extracting the oil from olives. The finished refined olive oil is a blend of refined and extra virgin oils. 

A picture of Kevin garce's olive oil in his kitchen
<span style=font style normal font variant caps normal font weight 400 letter spacing normal orphans auto text align start text indent 0px text transform none white space normal widows auto word spacing 0px webkit text size adjust auto webkit text stroke width 0px text decoration none caret color rgb0 0 0 color rgb0 0 0 font size medium float none display inline important>Olive oil I frequently use in my kitchen<span>

Soybean Oil

In the United States, most of the oils labeled vegetable oil are actually 100% soybean oil. I checked the labels of vegetable oils sold in Walmart, Shoprite and Stop and Shop, and found this to be true.

Manufacturers do this for marketing purposes. In addition, it gives them flexibility to change the ingredients and not the label. This variety is a good substitute for the manufacturers to use due to the scarcity of other vegetable oils.

  • Made from whole soybeans.
  • Has a mild, neutral flavor.
  • Cost less money than olive oil.
  • Has a slightly lower smoke point than refined olive oil but a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil.
  • Typically lighter in color with a hint of yellow.
Olive oil and soybean oil.
<span class=Apple converted space> <span>Olive oil left and soybean oil right

It is made by the following method:

  • The soybeans are cracked to remove the hull and adjust for moisture content.
  • They are heated and rolled into flakes.
  • A solvent called hexane is added to extract more oil.
  • The hexane is then separated and removed.
  • The crude oil is filtered and cleaned.
  • The oil is then bottled and shipped for sale.

Olive Oil

  • Refined is made from olives using heat and chemicals.
  • Has a mild, peppery flavor.
  • Cost more money.
  • Refined has a higher smoke point than soybean oil.

It is made by the following method:

  • It is made by using the leftover paste from making the extra virgin oils.
  • The leftover paste is heated and kneaded with chemicals to release more oil, water and residue from the paste.
  • It is separated from the water and residue.
  • It’s then filtered and bottled.

Nutrition

The following table compares the nutrition contents of both oils contained in one tablespoon:

 Olive Oil (1 Tbsp/13.5 grams)Soybean Oil (1 Tbsp/13.5 grams)
Calories119119
Protein0 g0 g
Carbohydrates0 g0 g
Fiber0 g0 g
Fat13.5 g13.5 g
Sugar0 g0 g
Sodium0.27 mg0 g
Vitamin K8.13 mcg24.82 mcg
Vitamin E1.94 mg1.10 mg
Potassium0.135 mg0 mg
Iron0.076 mg0.003 mg
Calcium0.135 mg0 mg
Omega-3103 mg915 g 
Omega-61,318 mg6,547 g 
Saturated Fat1.86 g2.06 g
Monounsaturated Fat9.86 g3.07 g
Polyunsaturated Fat1.42 g7.73 g

Nutrient Resources12 

The number of the nutrients in the table above may differ depending on the manufacturer, time of year, olives used and other factors.

Which Oil is the Healthiest?

At first glance the nutrition for each oil may seem very similar.

Olive oil is healthier than soybean oil due to its higher percentage of heart healthy fats, antioxidants, minerals and fewer unhealthy fats. It contains more vitamin E, potassium, iron and calcium. In addition, it provides 221% more monounsaturated fats per tablespoon.

Soybean oil contains more vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids.

When choosing oils, I always choose the healthier option over soybean. If it is somehow unavailable, I’d rather drive to a different store and find it there. I use it for lower temperature cooking.

Olive oil and olives.
<span style=font style normal font variant caps normal font weight 400 letter spacing normal orphans auto text align start text indent 0px text transform none white space normal widows auto word spacing 0px webkit text size adjust auto webkit text stroke width 0px text decoration none caret color rgb0 0 0 color rgb0 0 0 font size medium float none display inline important>Olive oil and olives<span>

Let’s take a closer look at the nutrition content of each one.

Calories

  • Both oils contain the same calories per one tablespoon.

Vitamin K

  • Soybean oil contains 205% more vitamin K per one tablespoon.

Vitamin E

  • Olive oil contains 76% more vitamin E per one tablespoon.

Potassium

  • Olive oil contains more potassium per one tablespoon.

Iron

  • Olive oil contains 2,430% more iron per one tablespoon.

Calcium

  • Olive oil contains more calcium per one tablespoon.

Saturated Fat

  • Soybean oil contains 10.8% more saturated fat per one tablespoon.

Monounsaturated Fats

  • Olive oil contains 221% more monounsaturated fat per one tablespoon.

Polyunsaturated

  • Soybean oil contains 440% more polyunsaturated fat per one tablespoon.
Soybean oil and olive oil nutrient and health comparison.

Taste

Let’s face it, If you’re like me I won’t eat a food considered healthy unless I can tolerate the taste. I think if someone doesn’t like the flavor of a food they won’t purchase it.

Therefore, let’s examine how the taste of each oil compares.

Olive oil has a stronger flavor than the milder soybean oil. Soybean oil has a neutral taste with no real flavor, while olive oil has a hint of olives and is peppery. The virgin olive oil has more flavor than the refined versions.

I wanted to get the opinion of real people like you by conducting some original research. Therefore, I reached out to some clients, members of food groups and readers. I asked, which oil tastes better?

  • 78% said they preferred the taste of olive oil.
  • 16% said they preferred the taste of soybean oil.
  • 6% said they had no preference.

To conduct more research, I also participated in my own blind taste test. I tried a teaspoon of both oils and ended up choosing the olive oil for having the better flavor.

In the battle of oil taste, olive oil tastes better than soybean oil and was the winner in the poll and in my own taste test.

Substitutions

I think it’s happened to all us, at the last minute you find out you’re out of the food needed in a recipe. Unable to go out to the store or just don’t want to, you’ve probably wondered if you can use another one in its place.

Reasons why people will want to substitute both oils for the other in a recipe:

  • Availability
  • Taste
  • Smoke point
  • Price
  • Variety

Soybean oil and olive oil can substitute for each other in cold recipes although the flavor will be stronger when using olive oil. In hot recipes refined can substitute for each other up to 453°F. Refined olive oil can substitute for soybean oil up to 470°F due to its smoke point.

Adding olive oil to a salad.
<span style=font style normal font variant caps normal font weight 400 letter spacing normal orphans auto text align start text indent 0px text transform none white space normal widows auto word spacing 0px webkit text size adjust auto webkit text stroke width 0px text decoration none caret color rgb0 0 0 color rgb0 0 0 font size medium float none display inline important>Adding olive oil to a salad<span>

Smoke Points of Oils 

The following are the smoke points of the cooking oils:

Type of Oil & FatsSmoke Point
(Fahrenheit)
Soybean Oil453°F
Olive Oil – Refined470°F
Olive Oil – Virgin410°F
Olive Oil – Extra virgin375°F

Smoke point source ((Wikipedia: Smoke point))

  • Soybean oil has a higher smoke point than extra virgin or virgin olive oils.
  • Refined olive oil has a higher smoke point than soybean oil.

The types more refined or processed always have a higher smoke point than virgin oils.

How to Incorporate Them With Foods

Soybean

Some people like using soybean oil because it doesn’t overpower the other flavors in a recipe and it is cheaper to purchase.

Using it results in a neutral flavor and more people use it for cooking or baking than for dipping, salads or drizzling.

Although when oil is needed in something cold, it will be used when oil is needed without the added flavor. A great example of this may be when making a mayonnaise.

Use it for the following:

  • Use it when cooking in temperatures above 375 degrees.
  • Sauteing
  • Frying
  • Marinades
  • Baking
  • Stir fry
  • Soups
  • Mayonnaise

Olive

  • Use refined for any cooking in temperatures up to 470 degrees.
  • Use extra virgin for cooking in temperatures up to 375 degrees.
  • Dipping
  • Dressings
  • Salads
  • Grilling
  • Frying
  • Stir-frying
  • Baking

The following video explains to you things you must be aware of when shopping for the healthier oil.

Which to Choose Based on Your Goals

In this section I examine the most common goals people have and determine if one of the two is the better choice for each one.

Low Carb or Keto Diets

The goal for most low-carb diets is consuming few carbohydrates while adding more healthy fat and protein. With such a restrictive carbohydrate intake, every gram of carbs may make a difference.

Therefore, let’s examine which one has fewer carbohydrates or more fat and protein.

  • Olive oil is better for low-carb diets than soybean oil due to its higher percentage of healthy fats. They both provide 13.5 grams of total fat per tablespoon. Both oils have an equal number of carbohydrates per tablespoon which is zero grams.
  • A higher percentage of the fat contained in olive oil is the healthier monounsaturated (221% more) making it the better choice.

Weight Loss

Weight loss may be the most popular goal. If you’re trying to lose extra pounds from the midsection area, the number of calories may matter to you. 

Therefore, let’s examine which is better for weight loss.

  • Olive oil is better for weight loss than soybean oil due to its overall healthy fat content, although they have the same number of calories. A diet based on these is associated with weight loss.
  • It contains a good number of medium-chain triglycerides which has been associated with weight loss and maintenance in studies3.
  • The monounsaturated fats has been shown to increase good cholesterol and both have been associated with weight loss in studies4.

It should be noted to be careful about how much is added to a dish like salads. It’s easy to add multiple tablespoons. At 119 calories per, adding four tablespoons would equal 476 calories. Always be aware of the number of tablespoons and try not to overdo it with both oils.

Gluten Free

Avoiding any gluten is the main goal for people who wish to follow a gluten free diet or have Celiac disease. Therefore, let’s examine which one is gluten free.

  • Olive oil and soybean oil are both gluten free and good for gluten free diets.

Vegan or Vegetarian

If you’re thinking about following a vegan or vegetarian diet consuming dairy products or animal-derived products is important. Knowing which one is vegan or vegetarian friendly may help you choose between the two.

Olive oil and soybean oil are plant based and does not contain animal products making them both beneficial for vegans and vegetarians.

Bodybuilding

If you’re trying to gain muscle mass or just tone up, the amount of protein and carbohydrates may make a difference. Let’s take a look at both and determine which is better for bodybuilding.

Although both oils contain the same number of proteins and carbohydrates, olive oil is better for bodybuilding. This is due to its higher percentage of healthy fats and antioxidants. 

  • It contains oleic acid which has been shown to stimulate protein production and synthesis5.
  • One of it’s antioxidants, oleocanthal, is an anti-inflammatory that also reduces pain in joints. Pain in the joints may affect workouts or the amount of weight lifted.
  • The antioxidants help fight free radicals and prevent cell damage. It’s difficult to build and repair muscle cells with free radicals.
  • It is associated with decreases in inflammation which can benefit the joints6.
  • When bulking up, the calories may prove beneficial.
Soybean oil and olive oil comparison.

Most of the time, You’ll probably want to use olive oil whenever you can instead of a corn or vegetable oils.

The Prices

Its seems every trip to the supermarket results with more money spent at the checkout. For this reason and others, I’m sure the prices of food matters to most people.

I checked the price of store brands to keep things on an even playing field. I divided the price by the number of ounces. Therefore, let’s examine the prices of both.

Olive oil costs 118% more than soybean oil per ounce. Olive oil average cost per ounce is $0.24 and the average price for soybean oil is $0.11 per ounce.

To conduct my own research, I checked three different supermarkets located in my area. All the supermarkets are on different levels of pricing. Walmart is the most economical and Stop and Shop being more expensive.

Here are my findings, I first visited Walmart:

Walmart:

  • Olive oil (O.O.) (Store brand) – 51 ounce $10.98 ($0.21 per ounce) 
  • Soybean oil (S.O.) (Store brand) – 48 ounce $3.47 ($0.07 per ounce)

Shoprite

  • O.O. (Store brand) – 25.5 ounce $6.49 ($0.25 per ounce)
  • S.O. (Store brand) – 16 ounce $2.49 ($0.16 per ounce)

Stop and Shop:

  • O.O. (Store brand) – 25.3 ounce $6.79 ($0.27 per ounce)
  • S.O. (Store brand) – 24 ounce $3.99 ($0.17 per ounce)

In Walmart they didn’t sell any oil labeled as soybean oil but their oils labeled as vegetable oil is 100% S.O..

In Shoprite their vegetable oil was labeled the same. They did have a Goya brand S.O. selling for $0.16 per ounce. 

For further explanation about why many vegetable oils contain 100% S.O. read about it in my article.

Storage

Storing food often gets overlooked. The shelf life you get out of the oil is important, especially with the prices of good quality brands. In addition, improper storage may lessen the taste and quality.

Let’s examine how both oils should be stored.

Store soybean oil or olive oil the same way which is in a cool, dark location away from light. It’s best to store them in a tinted glass container. Both oils should be kept at a temperature between 55-60, although they can be refrigerated or frozen if needed.

If the temperature of a room rises above 70℉, they should be stored in the refrigerator. Leaving either oil in warmer temperatures affects shelf life and lessens the quality.

Unrefined or extra virgin can go bad quicker than refined oils. For this reason, many people store them in the refrigerator regardless of the room temperature.

Kitchens are often warmer than most other rooms of the house due to cooking and the heat-creating appliances. Therefore, monitor the temperature of the room to ensure the best quality.

I keep mine in the kitchen cabinet away from the oven. It’s a cooler area and never gets too warm there.

Find out how sesame oil compared in my article.

The following video explains the taste and quality of different oils.

Health Benefits

Each type contains healthy fatty acids and antioxidants which provide many health benefits. They are both healthy but not in the same ways. This section will examine those benefits for each one and the drawback of soybean oil.

Soybean Oil Benefits

Soybean oil has some health benefits of its own and also some concerns if consumed too much.

Heart Disease

It contains a good number of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAS). These are extremely beneficial for the heart and increasing good cholesterol.

It is low in saturated fat and has a high percentage of polyunsaturated fat. Studies show replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated reduces heart problems by 17%7.

The high percentage of Omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial for the heart.

Omega-3 fatty acids help keep arteries healthy. The omega-3s may help with the following:

  • Reducing plaque buildup.
  • Reducing inflammation.
  • Keeping bad cholesterol low.
  • Keeping good cholesterol high.
  • Lowering triglycerides
  • Help keep the heart rhythms more normal.

DHA and EPA, two of the fatty acids, are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels ((National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease)).

However, nutritionists have raised concerns about the high amounts of omega-6 found in some vegetable oils like soybean. Although omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are needed, many people consume too much of the omega-6 and not enough omega-3s.

This is so because processed foods are typically high in omega-6s. An imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 may lead to chronic inflammation.

Moderation is the key and it’s better to use when it makes sense.

Bone Health

One tablespoon provides approximately 20% of the daily recommended value of vitamin K. Studies have shown vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis of proteins beneficial for maintaining bone mass8.

One study evaluated how vitamin K supplementation affected postmenopausal women with osteopenia. The two-year study found vitamin K may have helped protect against bone fractures9.

Joint Pain

Studies suggest omega-3s can help reduce joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. They may also boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Find out how avocado oil compared in my article here.

Pouring olive oil with balsamic vinegar for dipping.
Pouring olive oil with balsamic vinegar for dipping

Olive Oil Benefits

Heart Disease

Heart disease is among the most common causes of death in the United States and throughout the world. Research has shown heart disease is lower in the Mediterranean countries where olive oil is a big part of their diets.

There are many ways olive oil is beneficial for the heart including the following:

Lowering Blood Pressure

Studies have shown an association between lower blood pressure and an increase in olive oil consumption. The Mediterranean diet has been linked to lower blood pressure and cardiovascular disease10.

Blood Vessel Health

Its been shown to help improve the lining of blood vessels. A study published in 2015 showed blood vessels opened up and increased blood flow in people who included olive oil in their diet11.

Reducing Inflammation

It is associated with decreases in inflammation which is a main component of heart disease. An antioxidant in olive oil, oleocanthal, is an anti-inflammatory that also reduces pain.

Cancer

The cancer rates in Mediterranean countries are lower than other places. As noted earlier, this type is a huge part of the diet.

Antioxidants are believed to contribute to the killing of cancer cells. In a 2015 study, oleocanthal, a phenolic compound, helped kill cancer cells in less than one hour12.

Another study published in 2015 evaluated the consumption of the Mediterranean diet and the incidence of breast cancer. For a six-year period, 4,282 women aged 60 to 80 years followed three different diets:

  1. Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts.
  3. A reduced fat diet.

After 4.8 years 35 of the women developed breast cancer. The lowest rate of breast cancer was seen in the women who supplemented with the oil13.

Oleic acid has been associated with helping to reduce the risk of cancers.

The doctor in the following video explains the benefits and which oil is better.

Brain Health

Research has shown the Mediterranean diet may be associated with a reduced risk of cognitive problems and dementia14.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior. A common feature of the disease is the build-up of proteins known as beta-amyloid plaques in certain neurons in the brain.

Animal studies have shown it to clear the beta-amyloid proteins from the brain helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease15.

Additional Article Resources165

If you have any questions to ask me about this article don’t hesitate to email us or comment below. You can find an email on our contact page.

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This is the Best Way to Store Your Olive Oil

  1. USDA: Oil, olive, salad or cooking []
  2. USDA: Oil, vegetable, soybean, refined []
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials []
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information: High Fat Diet with a High Monounsaturated Fatty Acid and Polyunsaturated/Saturated Fatty Acid Ratio Suppresses Body Fat Accumulation and Weight Gain in Obese Hamsters []
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: An overview of the modulatory effects of oleic acid in health and disease [] []
  6. National center for Biotechnology Information: Olive Oil-related Anti-inflammatory Effects on Atherosclerosis: Potential Clinical Implications []
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease []
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Vitamin K and bone []
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Vitamin K supplementation in postmenopausal women with osteopenia (ECKO trial): a randomized controlled trial []
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Virgin Oil and Hypertension []
  11. (National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effects on Markers of Inflammation and Endothelial Function-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis []
  12. Taylor & Francis Online: (-)-Oleocanthal rapidly and selectively induces cancer cell death via lysosomal membrane permeabilization []
  13. Jama Internal Medicine: Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial []
  14. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mediterranean Diet and Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease in the EPIC-Spain Dementia Cohort Study []
  15. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Attenuates Amyloid-β and Tau Pathologies in the Brains of TgSwDI Mice []
  16. Harvard Health Publishing: No need to avoid healthy omega-6 fats []

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