Concerns about high-PUFA seed oil in Soylent

I saw a physician, Dr. Cate Shanahan the former nutritionist for the Lakers, on Real Time with Bill Maher and it really concerned me.

Has anyone considered whether the high oleic sunflower oil and canola oil in Soylent causes an inflammatory immune response as some scientists believe high-PUFA seed oils such as Canola, Corn, Cottonseed, Soy, Sunflower, Safflower, Grapeseed, Rice bran oils do?

Seems like a concern when we need our immune systems to be in top fighting shape for COVID-19.

Here is a link to the supporting citations.

The American Heart Association is fine with it. One doctor and Bill Maher (has has a shaky history on health claims) isn’t enough to make me worry.

No matter what thing you’re looking at, you can find a few docs that say it’s bad. It makes more sense to go with the view of the major professional organizations than a vocal minority, which will always exist.

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Researcher Alan Aragon’s latest Instagram post coincidentally has this covered with references attached.


Awesome post! And yeah, that’s how it works. Two or three nutritionists with celebrity status (maybe working with the LA Lakers, maybe have a popular radio or TV show…) make some claim, and a lot of people buy it without checking.

The fact is, Mediterranean people have been eating diets high in nuts and seeds for centuries, and they live longer and healthier lives than Americans, who don’t. That doesn’t mean the nut and seed oils are making them live longer, but it does mean they aren’t so unhealthy that they are living shorter lifespans.

It’s also worth noting: Soylent has been pretty popular since it originally came out in 2013. I don’t know if anyone has managed a 100% Soylent diet in the 7 years since, but plenty of people have used Soylent as a significant part of their diet and some have used it as a majority of their diet. Now, the recipe has changed a few times since, but if there was anything in Soylent that would cause significant health problems within a 4 to 7 year timespan (depending on how long that ingredient was in it), we would have seen enough reports of people having issues to be aware of the problem. If I am not mistaken, soy oil has been a prominent ingredient in Soylent from the beginning. If high consumption of soy oil caused any significant problems, Soylent would almost certainly have provided significant evidence of that. As it is, the biggest issues caused by Soylent seem to have been gastrointestinal distress, which is annoying but not generally serious, and which they have managed to fix fairly quickly any time it arose.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t ingredients that might cause problems after more extended use, but any claims about prominent ingredients in Soylent causing significant issues only within a period of a few years have pretty much been disproved by the fact that such issues have not been reported by any significant number of people using Soylent.


Thanks to everyone for the replies. This article on Harvard Health debunks the recent criticism of Omega-6 rich vegetable and seed oils like those used in Soylent. In fact, they call it “hogwash.” :wink:


I’ve been roughly 50% to 100% Soylent since 2015 and I have had regular physicals and bloodwork to verify that I am healthy.

However, a small part of me always wonders if there will be slight, long-term affects, so I’m always keeping an eye on nutritional trends.

This Soylent discourse community has been a reliable source of good information that is thoughtfully communicated (which my doctor has confirmed over the years).

I think posts like this that tackle “hot” topics are helpful to me after ~5 years on Soylent, so I can only imagine how new customers feel.


I can understand the thinking that being that much Soylent in the long term might result in some negative effects because you’re getting less of whatever might be slightly good in regular food that we don’t know about yet and the effects could accrue over time

But I think that could work in the other direction too. There might be things in regular food that are slightly bad that we don’t know about and the effects could accrue to the negative over time and someone consuming a lot of Soylent is less likely to experience such effects.

As an example, consider what is widely assumed to be a healthy diet of regular food. Do we know whether every single chemical in that diet is good? No. We say “This diet has a lot of X, Y and Z and we know X, Y and Z are all good for you and we know by studies that diets with a lot of X, Y and Z tend to be better than diet without it.”

Okay, fine, but those diets also contain many other chemicals that we don’t know much about outside of the fact that they’re not REALLY good or REALLY bad for you. Those things are just there and we consider them neutral but they could have slight positive or slight negative effects. Even if they have slight negative effects, the positivity of the diet having a lot of X, Y and Z would overwhelm the slight negative effects of the other things when comparing to a diet without X, Y and Z.

In other words, it’s impossible to compare a diet with only X, Y and Z to a diet with X, Y, Z and all the other stuff that’s just in there. We have to take the other stuff because it’s in there along with the X, Y and Z. It’s possible that avoiding all that stuff over time could accrue positive benefits.

A high school chemistry teacher in Australia named James Kennedy once made a list of all the chemicals in “natural” foods and it was long. And actually it was only a partial list because he said there are trace elements of far more things than was in his list. Anyone can google it. There’s tons of stuff in there beyond the parts that we know is good for us.

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Here is one link but there are more out there.

List of chemicals in some foods

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This list is very helpful. If I understand it correctly, this teacher basically broke down fruit into its chemical components. This reminds me of Soylent’s founder’s approach to concocting Soylent as a “synthetic” (i.e. human engineered) food substitute. Thanks for sharing!

FWIW in the new RTD PUFA down from 3.5 to 3.0g and MUFA up from 16 to 18g… although saturated fat is up from 1.5 to 2.5g…

So is that a good thing?

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