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. Olive contains calcium and potassium which soybean oil doesn’t. Olive oil is less refined and processed than soybean oil. 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.
Olive Oil vs Soybean Oil: The Differences
They’re both cooking oils but what is the difference between olive oil and soybean oil?
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 olive oil and extra virgin olive 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.
Soybean oil 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 soybean oil is filtered and cleaned.
- It’s then bottled and shipped for sale.
- Refined is made from olives using heat and chemicals.
- Has a mild, peppery flavor.
- Cost more money than soybean oil.
- Refined has a higher smoke point than soybean oil.
- Typically lighter in color than extra virgin olive oil.
Olive oil is made by the following method:
- It is made by using the leftover paste from making extra virgin olive oil.
- The leftover paste is heated and kneaded with chemicals to release more oil, water and residue from the paste.
- The oil is separated from the water and residue.
- It’s then filtered and bottled.
Olive Oil vs Soybean Oil: Nutrient Comparison
The following table compares the nutrients contained in one tablespoon of olive oil and soybean oil:
|Olive Oil (1 Tbsp/13.5 grams)||Soybean Oil (1 Tbsp/13.5 grams)|
|Protein||0 g||0 g|
|Carbohydrates||0 g||0 g|
|Fiber||0 g||0 g|
|Fat||13.5 g||13.5 g|
|Sugar||0 g||0 g|
|Sodium||0.27 mg||0 g|
|Vitamin K||8.13 mcg||24.82 mcg|
|Vitamin E||1.94 mg||1.10 mg|
|Potassium||0.135 mg||0 mg|
|Iron||0.076 mg||0.003 mg|
|Calcium||0.135 mg||0 mg|
|Omega-3||103 mg||915 g|
|Omega-6||1,318 mg||6,547 g|
|Saturated Fat||1.86 g||2.06 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||9.86 g||3.07 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||1.42 g||7.73 g|
The number of the nutrients in the table above may differ depending on the manufacturer, time of year, olives used and other factors.
At first glance the nutrients for each oil may seem very similar. This brings up a question often asked, which is the healthier oil?
Olive oil is healthier than soybean oil due to its higher percentage of heart healthy fats, antioxidants, minerals and fewer unhealthy fats. Olive oil contains more vitamin E, potassium, iron and calcium. Olive oil provides 221% more monounsaturated fats than soybean oil per tablespoon.
Soybean oil contains more vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids.
Let’s take a closer look at each nutrient and how much more each oil contains.
- Olive oil and soybean oil contain the same calories per one tablespoon.
- Soybean oil contains 205% more vitamin K than olive oil per one tablespoon.
- Olive oil contains 76% more vitamin E than soybean oil per one tablespoon.
- Olive oil contains more potassium than soybean oil per one tablespoon.
- Olive oil contains 2,430% more iron than soybean oil per one tablespoon.
- Olive oil contains more calcium than soybean oil per one tablespoon.
- Soybean oil contains 10.8% more saturated fat than olive oil per one tablespoon.
- Olive oil contains 221% more monounsaturated fat than soybean oil per one tablespoon.
- Soybean oil contains 440% more polyunsaturated fat than olive oil per one tablespoon.
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 one 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.
In the battle of taste, olive oil tastes better than soybean oil and was the winner in the poll.
I think it’s happened to all us, at the last minute you find out you’re out of the oil 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 one for the other in a recipe:
- Smoke point
This makes people wonder is it okay to use one for the other?
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.
The following are the smoke points for olive oil and soybean oil:
|Type of Oil & Fats||Smoke Point
|Olive Oil – Refined||470°F|
|Olive Oil – Virgin||410°F|
|Olive Oil – Extra virgin||375°F|
Smoke point source 3
- 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 oils more refined or processed always have a higher smoke point than virgin oils.
How to Incorporate Them Into Your Diet
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 soybean oil for the following:
- Use it when cooking in temperatures above 375 degrees (the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil).
- Stir fry
- Use refined for any cooking in temperatures up to 470 degrees.
- Use extra virgin for cooking in temperatures up to 375 degrees.
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 fats (221% more than soybean oil) making it the better choice.
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 the fats provided from olive oil, like the Mediterranean diet, is associated with weight loss.
- Olive oil contains a good number of medium-chain triglycerides which has been associated with weight loss and maintenance in studies 4.
- The monounsaturated fats has been shown to increase good cholesterol and both have been associated with weight loss in studies 5.
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.
Avoiding any gluten is the main goal for people who wish to follow a gluten free diet or have Celiac disease. Therefore, let’s answer 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.
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 olive oil and soybean oil 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.
- Olive oil contains oleic acid which has been shown to stimulate protein production and synthesis 6.
- 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 joints 7.
- When bulking up, the calories may prove beneficial.
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 brand oils 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:
- Olive oil (Store brand) – 51 ounce $10.98 ($0.21 per ounce)
- Soybean oil (Store brand) – 48 ounce $3.47 ($0.07 per ounce)
- Olive oil (Store brand) – 25.5 ounce $6.49 ($0.25 per ounce)
- Soybean oil (Store brand) – 16 ounce $2.49 ($0.16 per ounce)
Stop and Shop:
- Olive oil (Store brand) – 25.3 ounce $6.79 ($0.27 per ounce)
- Soybean oil (Store brand) – 24 ounce $3.99 ($0.17 per ounce)
In Walmart they didn’t sell any oil labeled as soybean oil but their oil labeled as vegetable oil is 100% soybean oil.
In Shoprite their vegetable oil was labeled the same. They did have a Goya brand soybean oil selling for $0.16 per ounce.
For further explanation about why many vegetable oils contain 100% soybean oil read about it in my article, Olive Oil vs Vegetable Oil: Which is Better? Let’s Compare.
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 they 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.
Find out how olive oil compared to sesame oil in my article, Sesame Oil vs Olive Oil: Which is Better? Let’s Compare.
Both of them contain healthy fats and antioxidants which provide many health benefits. This section will examine those benefits for each one and the drawback of soybean oil.
Soybean Oil Benefits
Soybean oil has some benefits of its own and also some concerns if consumed too much.
Soybean oil contains a good number of monounsaturated fats. These fats 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% 8.
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 9.
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.
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 mass 10.
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 fractures 11.
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 olive oil compared to avocado oil in my article, Avocado Oil vs Olive Oil: Which is Better? A Comparison.
Olive Oil Benefits
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 disease 12.
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 diet 13.
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.
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 present in olive oil, helped kill cancer cells in less than one hour 14.
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:
- Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil.
- Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts.
- 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 extra virgin olive oil 15.
Oleic acid has been associated with helping to reduce the risk of cancers.
Research has shown the Mediterranean diet may be associated with a reduced risk of cognitive problems and dementia 16.
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 disease 17.
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- USDA: Oil, olive, salad or cooking
- USDA: Oil, vegetable, soybean, refined
- Wikipedia: Smoke point
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
- 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
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: An overview of the modulatory effects of oleic acid in health and disease
- National center for Biotechnology Information: Olive Oil-related Anti-inflammatory Effects on Atherosclerosis: Potential Clinical Implications
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease
- National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Vitamin K and bone
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Vitamin K supplementation in postmenopausal women with osteopenia (ECKO trial): a randomized controlled trial
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Virgin Olive Oil and Hypertension
- (National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effects of Olive Oil on Markers of Inflammation and Endothelial Function-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- Taylor & Francis Online: (-)-Oleocanthal rapidly and selectively induces cancer cell death via lysosomal membrane permeabilization
- Jama Internal Medicine: Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mediterranean Diet and Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease in the EPIC-Spain Dementia Cohort Study
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Attenuates Amyloid-β and Tau Pathologies in the Brains of TgSwDI Mice
- Harvard Health Publishing: No need to avoid healthy omega-6 fats