What is Hydrogenated Oil. All you need to know.

About Hydrogenated Oil

Imagine biting into a crispy potato chip, enjoying the buttery goodness of a croissant, or indulging in the comforting warmth of a chocolate chip cookie. These may seem harmless but what is hidden you should know – hydrogenated oil.

Why do I choose to write this topic today? Coffee with powdered coffee creamer is what I drink every day without fail. Not anymore since I found Coffee-Mate isn’t my “healthy mate”. And, I like to share what I found with you about hydrogenated oil. Yes, coffee creamer has this nasty stuff. So are many other foodstuffs. Read on…

What is Hydrogenated Oil?

Hydrogenated oil is a type of fat that undergoes a process called hydrogenation, where hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid at room temperature. This process transforms the oil into a more stable and longer-lasting fat.

While this process may seem harmless, it produces a harmful byproduct – trans fats.

How is hydrogenated Oil Made

Picture this → a hot, bubbling pot of liquid vegetable oil undergoing a chemical dance with hydrogen gas.

Hydrogenated oil is made using a process known as hydrogenation where hydrogen atoms are added.

This process, known as hydrogenation, involves adding hydrogen atoms to the oil’s molecular structure. A metal stimulant, such as nickel or platinum, helps rearrange the bonds in the oil. This creates a firmer, more stable fat with a higher melting point.

It’s crucial to note that there are two primary types of hydrogenated oils

  1. Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs)
  2. Fully hydrogenated oils

The key difference lies in the extent of hydrogenation.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs)

PHOs also known as trans fats, are partially transformed, retaining some unsaturated fats.

Imagine a jar of peanut butter or a bag of your favourite snack. Chances are, if you see “partially hydrogenated oils” on the ingredients list, you’re looking at PHOs.

These oils, despite the transformation process, maintain a degree of unsaturation. This means they contain trans fats, which have been linked to adverse health effects.

The food industry often uses PHOs for their ability to enhance texture and increase product shelf life.

Fully Hydrogenated Oils

Now, let’s shift your focus to fully hydrogenated oils.

Fully hydrogenated oils undergo complete saturation, resulting in a fat with different properties. The oil returns to a “zero trans-fat” level.

In this process, nearly all unsaturated fats are converted into saturated fats. This results in fat with a consistency similar to that of saturated fats from animal sources.

While fully hydrogenated oils do not contain trans fats, they are not immune to criticism.

The debate surrounding the health implications of saturated fats continues, with some studies suggesting potential risks.

Read this – Interesting Facts on Fats

Uses of Hydrogenated Oil in the Food Industry

Hydrogenated oils, with their unique properties, have become indispensable tools in the food industry, serving a variety of culinary purposes. Their ability to enhance texture, shelf life, and flavour has made them integral to the production of a wide range of food items.

Here are 4 uses

1. Enhancing Texture

Ever wondered why that bag of potato chips is so irresistibly crispy or why certain baked goods have that perfect flakiness? Enter hydrogenated oils. One of their primary functions in the food industry is to enhance texture.

The process of hydrogenation transforms liquid oils into solid fats, providing a unique structure to products like cookies, crackers, and pastries. This structural transformation not only contributes to the desired mouth feel but also extends the shelf life of these products.

Processed Foods

While hydrogenated oils excel at creating the ideal crunch in snacks and the delicate layers in pastries, it’s essential to be aware of potential health implications.

The use of PHOs can introduce trans fats into these products, which have been associated with adverse health effects.

You must practice good habits in reading ingredient labels making sure to avoid this nasty ingredient.

2. Increasing Shelf Life

Step into the aisles of your local grocery store, and you’ll find a myriad of packaged goods with a surprisingly long shelf life.

Hydrogenated oils play a crucial role in food preservation. By stabilizing fats through hydrogenation, food manufacturers can extend the longevity of products without compromising their quality.

From cookies to frozen pastries, the incorporation of hydrogenated oils helps prevent rancidity and maintains the freshness of these items over time.

While the extended shelf life is undoubtedly convenient, it’s essential to strike a balance between convenience and health-conscious choices.

Again, read the food label. Opt for products that use healthier alternatives or, better yet, prepare homemade treats using whole ingredients.

For example, you can snack on nuts and seeds – find out how to build your own trail mix.

3. Flavour Enhancement

Have you ever marvelled at the rich, buttery taste of certain baked goods, only to discover they’re made with hydrogenated oils?

The use of hydrogenated oils for flavour enhancement can come with the baggage of trans fats.

The culinary world often relies on these oils to impart a desirable flavour profile to various products. Hydrogenated oils can mimic the taste of butter, providing a cost-effective alternative in the production of cookies, pastries, and margarine.

Talking about cost-effectiveness, the next point ↓

4. Manufacturing Efficiency

Hydrogenated oils offer cost-effectiveness for food manufacturers.

Hydrogenated oils offer cost-effectiveness for food manufacturers.

Their stability and versatility make them suitable for large-scale production, reducing waste and ensuring consistent product quality.

Their ability to extend shelf life also minimizes storage costs and product losses.

So, hydrogenated oil is essential for food manufacturers but what is important to you? Your health!

Health Implications of Hydrogenated Oils

While hydrogenated oils offer valuable benefits in food production and consumer appeal, their potential health risks cannot be overlooked.

The presence of trans fats in these oils poses a significant threat to cardiovascular health and other aspects of your well-being.

1. Disrupt Cholesterol Balance

One of the primary concerns linked to hydrogenated oils, particularly those containing trans fats, is their association with an increase in LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels.

Numerous studies have consistently demonstrated a direct correlation between trans fat intake and elevated LDL cholesterol. This poses a heightened risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes.

These artificial fats not only raise LDL cholesterol but also decrease HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol – the “good” cholesterol that helps in removing bad cholesterol from the bloodstream. (1, 2)

Atherosclerosis – The Silent Danger
As arteries become clogged with plaque, blood flow is restricted, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular complications.

This is important for you to know. The imbalance in cholesterol levels caused by trans fats accelerates the development of atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of arteries.

As arteries become clogged with plaque, blood flow is restricted, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular complications.

2. Inflammatory Effects

Beyond cholesterol concerns, hydrogenated oils have been implicated in triggering inflammatory responses within the body.

Chronic inflammation is a known factor in the development of various health conditions.

Research, such as a study published in the National Library of Medicine, suggests that the consumption of trans fats may contribute to inflammation, further elevating the risk of heart-related issues.

Not only that. Inflammation potentially impacts other organs including the pancreas, liver, kidney, lung, brain, intestinal tract and reproductive system. (1)

On top of that, chronic inflammation can disrupt the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections and allergies.

3. Impair Blood Sugar Control – Insulin Resistance

Research has looked into the connection between hydrogenated oils, especially those rich in trans fats, and insulin resistance. (1, 2)

Insulin resistance happens when the body’s cells don’t respond well to insulin, causing higher blood sugar levels. This problem is a warning sign for type 2 diabetes.

A study published in Diabetes Care proposes a strong link between consuming trans fats and a higher chance of developing insulin resistance.

Although there are only 3 health implications these are the primary ones which are of utmost importance. If not taken care of, will lead to many other health problems and diseases.

How to Avoid Hydrogenated Oil

The severity of the health risks associated with hydrogenated oil consumption is dependent on the amount of trans fats consumed.

While some trans fats occur naturally in dairy products and meat, the major source of trans fats in our diets is from processed foods containing hydrogenated oils.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting trans fat intake to less than 1% of total daily energy intake. This translates to less than 2 grams of trans fat per day for an average adult consuming 2,000 calories per day.

Let’s look at 5 practical steps to steer clear of these nasty fats in your daily life.

1. Limit consumption of processed foods. Choose whole foods.

Processed foods, such as fried snacks, pastries, and baked goods, are major sources of hydrogenated oils. Opt for fresh, whole foods whenever possible.

Choosing whole, unprocessed foods is a great way to minimize your intake of hydrogenated oils.

Picture a plate filled with vibrant fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Choosing whole, unprocessed foods is a great way to minimize your intake of hydrogenated oils.

Whole foods are in their natural state, untouched by the hydrogenation process. These nutrient-dense options not only fuel your body with essential vitamins and minerals but also reduce the likelihood of hidden trans fats found in processed foods.

Why should you eat whole foods. Read here.

2. Read food labels carefully

Imagine yourself in a grocery store, scanning the aisles for your favourite snacks or pantry staples. The first line of defence against hydrogenated oils lies in reading food labels meticulously.

Check ingredient lists for terms like “partially hydrogenated oil” or “vegetable shortening” and avoid products containing these ingredients.

3. Choose healthier alternatives

Use naturally occurring fats, such as olive oil, avocado oil, and nuts, in your cooking and baking.

In my early years, I used to bake with shortening. Now, it is either pure butter or olive oil depending on what I’m baking.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned using coffee creamer and has since ditched it. Now, it is either dairy milk or plant-based milk such as almonds and oats.

Although dairy milk contains trans fats, it is naturally occurring trans fats and the amount is not a concern. At least not for me since I’m only adding a dash or two to my 2 cups of coffee a day.

There are many healthier food choices if one explores them. Know what’s in your fridge and pantry. Do you need to swap any food products?

4. Cook at home

Cooking from scratch allows you to control the ingredients and avoid hidden sources of hydrogenated oils.

Imagine the aroma of a homemade meal in your kitchen. This sensory experience goes hand in hand with the power to control the ingredients in your dishes.

Cooking at home allows you to eliminate the guesswork associated with restaurant or pre-packaged meals. This means you have complete control over the oils and fats used in your cooking.

Cooking at home allows you to control the oils and fats used in your cooking.

5. Be mindful of portion sizes

Even healthy foods, when consumed in excess, can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of chronic diseases. Practice moderation and mindful eating.

By making informed food choices and limiting your intake of hydrogenated oils, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing trans-fat-related health problems.

Remember, a healthy diet is an investment in your long-term health and vitality.

Incorporating Healthier Fats into Your Daily Meals

Here are some simple ways to incorporate these wholesome fats into your meals:

  • Olive Oil. Drizzle olive oil over salads, use it for sautéing vegetables, or incorporate it into marinades and dressings.
  • Avocado Oil. Use avocado oil for high-heat cooking, such as roasting or stir-frying, or drizzle it over avocado toast or salads.
  • Nuts and Seeds. Snack on a handful of nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, or chia seeds, for a healthy dose of unsaturated fats and fibre.
  • Fatty Fish. Include fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, in your meals at least twice a week to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

Hey, I hear you. Still insist snacking on crispy chips?

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This is a great snack option. A bit pricey though.

Check out the food label – contains only 1 ingredient and fruits are freeze-dried.

Terra Vegetable Chips with Sea Salt, 6.8 Oz

Chips are made with real, non-GMO vegetables for a snack that’s vegan and gluten-free. And with 0mg of cholesterol and 0g of trans fat

*I receive a small commission at no extra cost to youThis allows me to enjoy a cup of coffee while writing and sharing more articles like this one.

In a Nutshell

As you come to the end of this article, it’s clear that making informed food choices is key to protecting our overall health.

By understanding the different types of hydrogenated oil, their health implications, and the many healthier alternatives available, you know what to do to keep yourself in good health.

Remember, hydrogenated oils, once considered a healthier alternative to animal fats, have now been linked to potential health risks due to their trans fat content.

Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) contain higher levels of trans fats than fully hydrogenated oils (FHOs).

Trans fats disrupt the balance of cholesterol, increasing LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol, putting you at risk for cardiovascular diseases.

You ought to know, that hydrogenated oils are sneaky and often hidden in processed foods under inconspicuous names like “partially hydrogenated oil” or “vegetable shortening.” That’s why it’s important to read food labels carefully.

Instead of reaching for processed foods laden with hydrogenated oils, opt for fresh, whole foods whenever possible. And when you do need to use fats, use naturally occurring options like olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, and seeds. These fats not only taste great but also provide health benefits.

Cooking from scratch is a great way to control the ingredients you use and avoid hidden sources of hydrogenated oils. Plus, it's a great bonding time with your children.

Cooking from scratch is a great way to control the ingredients you use and avoid hidden sources of hydrogenated oils. Plus, it’s a fun and rewarding experience. Get your children to be involved in your cooking (with watchful eyes). It’s a great bonding time.

Finally, practice mindful eating. Choose moderate portions, savour each bite, and enjoy the flavours and textures of your food.

By making small changes in your dietary habits, you can make a significant impact on your overall health and longevity.

So, embark on a journey towards a healthier lifestyle by limiting your intake of hydrogenated oils and embracing nutrient-dense, whole foods. Your body will thank you for it!

What say you? Are you ready to ditch foodstuffs that contain trans fats – partially hydrogenated oil? Believe me, it’s fairly easy to make the change.

Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below. Or share with us the foods you’ve bought hidden with these fats. Go check the food labels.

I hope the information in this article gives you a good idea of what hydrogenated oil is and why should you be wary of its presence in our diets.

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Thanks for reading.

Me YourHealthy CornerStay in good health, healthy eating habits

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Medical Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional, and this post should not be taken as medical advice. Please do your own research. The material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.

4 thoughts on “About Hydrogenated Oil”

  1. I remember doing the same thing, looking at the ingredients of a coffee creamer and going, “What?! This has hydrogenated oil in it?!”

    It’s so easy to ignore how things are hurting you, until you read about effects like the atherosclerosis mentioned in your post, and realize anew that what you consume is a big deal.  I will be checking more labels for hydrogenated oils and choosing mostly whole fresh foods.  Good advice just before the holidays! We can celebrate and protect our health at the same time!

  2. Joseph Stasaitis

    This is an extremely important article for everyone’s health. I became aware of hydrogenated oil several years ago and have done my best to avoid it since. Manufacturing efficiency and increased shelf life are not good reasons for having this substance in foods. There are many detrimental effects from hydrogenated oil as you point out. Avoiding processed foods is a major step in the right direction. Reading labels is critical as well as eating whole foods. Cooking at home does help a lot.

    1. Thanks for reading, Joseph. You’re absolutely correct – manufacturing efficiency and longer shelf life are not good reasons for having hydrogenated oil in our foods. We should not bear the consequences.

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