Ask U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist Kristin Bilyeu and she’ll tell you that not only will high-oleic soybeans help provide a healthier alternative for consumers, they also will help increase demand for U.S. soybean oil.

Ultimately, the high-oleic soybean varieties could help the U.S. soybean industry maintain and even regain lost edible oil market share.

Bilyeu and University of Missouri (MU) professor Grover Shannon, lead a project that’s partially funded by the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff that discovered two high-oleic soybean genes. The oil from high-oleic soybeans is healthier than partially hydrogenated vegetable oils because it requires no hydrogenation, a process that leads to trans fats. High-oleic oil also contains about 25 percent less saturated fat than soybean oil processed from commodity U.S. soybeans and is healthier than high-stability fats and oils, such as palm, that contain high levels of saturated fats.

“If we can improve the health profile of a food ingredient without people having to make any changes in their lives, we can potentially improve the health of all consumers,” said Bilyeu, a USDA molecular biologist and adjunct professor of plant sciences at MU.

“High-oleic soybean oil will be in high demand from the food industry. I think it will be an obvious choice for food companies. It has no negative attributes.”

Soybean checkoff farmer-leaders serve on the board of directors for QUALISOY, an organization that helps identify and capitalize on new soybean oil opportunities to increase profit potential for U.S. soybean farmers. Two QUALISOY partners continue to develop new higholeic U.S. soybean varieties. Pioneer’s Plenish high-oleic soybeans may be grown under contract in the U.S. in 2011, with commercialization anticipated in 2012 upon full regulatory approval and field testing. And Monsanto could have Vistive Gold varieties available for planting in 2013 pending regulatory approvals.