Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are ruling trans fats as unsafe in food because they are linked to increased risk for heart attacks and strokes. This could lead to a ban of trans fats in baked goods and many other foods, such as icing and fried foods.
Recently, researchers at the University of Missouri created a soybean oil that has no trans fats. Grover Shannon, an MU professor of plant sciences, and Kristin Bilyeu, an MU plant sciences adjunct assistant professor and USDA molecular biologist, have found a naturally occurring gene in soybeans that, when combined with another natural gene, increases the amount of oleic acid in the oil from 20% to 80%.
"By raising the levels of oleic acid in soybean oil, we can effectively create a healthy alternative to foods with trans fats," Shannon says. "We are working with researchers around the country to begin growing these healthier soybeans and get the soybean oil into the market."
Shannon hopes the first of these healthier soybeans will be available in 2014, with plans to expand production in the next few years. Currently, he and Bilyeu are working on increasing the crop yields of these soybeans so that farmers are able and willing to grow them.
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