Hydrogenated Oil : The Hidden Killer

by FitnessMantra on May 22, 2006

Imagine if you walked into your favorite pastry store and found your favorite cookies lying in a pool of soggy vegetable oil. Chances are you wouldn’t buy them. Well, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention and in this unfortunate case, that invention is the hidden killer of the innocent consumers.

What are hydrogenated oils?
Regular vegetable oils are made up of chains of fatty acids which include many double-bonds of carbon and hydrogen, with hydrogen being mostly on the same side of the bond. The process of hydrogenation reconfigures these double bonds, so that the hydrogen atoms alternate sides and hence these are also called trans (latin: across) fats. This makes the oils more viscous and solid at room temperature. The result? Using them is easier for bakers (a paste as opposed to a liquid), cheaper (the process increases the volume of the oil so you get more), more beautifying for the cookies (no more sogginess!) and downright deadly for you.

Why hydrogenated fats are bad for you
How do I hate thee, let me count the ways:

  1. Hydrogenation changes the very molecular structure of the oil into a form that the human body has never dealt with in its evolution. This unnatural food is new and dangerous for a system not used to dealing with it.
  2. The hydrogenation process requires the use of such toxic catalyst-metals such as nickel, palladium, platinum or cobalt.
  3. Trans fats cause a lowering of HDL (good) cholesterol and an increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  4. The modified structure that hydrogenation causes is very similar to that od Stearic Acid (the same compound in making soap and candles – and is essential to make these products rigid) – it is believed thay also cause arteries to become rigid over time.
  5. One of the more serious consequences is the possibility of the onset of the non-insulin dependent version of Type 2 Diabetes. In this version of Type 2 Diabetes, the body is indeed producing enough insulin, but the insulin is not effective in removing glucose from the blood and feeding the cells. This condition is also known as insulin-resistance. This article gives the details.
  6. End of the day trans fats are artificially saturated, so they atleast have the harmful effects of saturated fats including artery clogging and raising the risk of heart disease.

“0 grams trans fat” and other lies
Ever seen the grocery aisles lined with products that seem to scream out “0 grams trans fats!”? The sad truth is that as per FDA regulations “if the serving contains less than 0.5 gram [of trans fat], the content, when declared, shall be expressed as zero.” So you can still see products with hydrogenated oils posing as healthy and trans-fat free ones.

Common products that have hydrogenated oils
Consumer Reports has a list of the top offendors in this category and the list includes surprising names like Nabisco Wheat Thins and Kellogs (frozen) buttermilk waffles. If ever a picture was worth a thousand words, this page has it.

More resources:

  1. A well-researched and comprehensive article on hydrogenated oils can be found here: “Hydrogenated Oils-Silent Killers by columnist, David Lawrence Dewey © copyrighted 1998” . This article is a must-read if you wish to fully understand the serious consequences of consuming foods with hydrogenated oils.
  2. An organisation called Ban Trans Fats runs an online campaign to ban partially hydrogenated oils.

Foods with hydrogenated oils pose a serious threat to your health and well-being. The good news is you can easily banish them from your pantry and find healthful alternatives to almost all of them. Take few seconds to check the list of ingredients on the nutrition label before you buy. If you see hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) oils listed high up on the list, then keep that product away from your family.

[tags] health, fitness, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, insulin resistance, diabetes, type 2 diabetes[/tags]

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

John May 16, 2007 at 11:38 am

As an organic chemist, I wanted to note that it is not necessary to use a metal catalyst, such as platinum, to hydrogenate an alkene or alkyne.


John May 16, 2007 at 11:44 am

There’s another mistake, I believe. Just because something has hydrogenated oil does not necessarily mean it has trans-unsaturation. Hydrogenation is used to convert double or triple bonds into single bonds by adding hydrogen accross the bond.

Trans fats are alkenes with trans configurations, which only results in specific hydrogenated cases. For instance, when Na/NH3 is used to reduce an alkyne to a trans alkene.


tanya May 19, 2007 at 7:49 am

John is totally right. Only partially hydrogenated oils can be trans – fully hydrogenated oils have no double bonds, hence cannot be trans. This is a VERY important distinction. Also, fully hydrogenated oils are not unnatural – that would be the same compounds found in saturated fats.


william October 15, 2007 at 8:54 pm

Our family started eating a product called MISSION WRAPS. We bought them from Wal-Mart. On the cover it says 0g Trans Fat, No Lard, No Cholesterol. But when I ate them my stomach felt so full, and I was not hungry for 4 to 6 hours later. Finally today I looked on the back and I saw that they have hydrogenated Soybean oil and hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oil, not to mentions monoglycerides. I became furious. Under the definition on Trans Fat in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia says: Most trans fats consumed today are industrially created by partially hydrogenating plant oils — a process developed in the early 1900s and first commercialized as Crisco in 1911. Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats are neither required nor beneficial for health. Eating trans fats increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are generally considered to be more of a health risk than those occurring naturally.

So by definition of Trans fat, are they lying by saying 0g Trans Fats on the cover?

Please advise,
Bill Sanford

check them out at: http://www.missionfoodsfsc.com/products/wraps/

these are the ingredients: http://www.missionfoodsfsc.com/nutrition_data.asp

Ingredients: Ingredients: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Vegetable Shortening (Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Seasoning [Salt, Maltodextrin, Jalapeno Pepper, Onion, Yeast Extract, Garlic, Citric Acid, Modified Corn Starch, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed and Soybean Oil, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Artificial Color (FD&C Yellow #5, FD&C Yellow #6)], Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate and/or Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Calcium Sulfate), Dough Conditioners (Fumaric Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite), Calcium Propionate and Sorbic Acid (To Preserve Freshness).

the ingredients above are different than the ones on my package which names a considerable amount of more harmful chemicals like monoglycerides.

I am very upset with these people to say the least.


Fred December 15, 2008 at 3:36 am

Those wraps look disgusting.


martha March 28, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Pretty soon we would not be able to eat anything at all.
What if left in the market to buy that does not contain
all this horrendous products…..even labels are a total
misrepresentation of the truth….


gypsy May 26, 2010 at 11:48 pm

There is always the option to buy real, live foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dry beans (not canned) you get the idea food our grandparents and great grandparents used to eat, the kind of stuff that grows in the garden.


Nomi March 5, 2011 at 2:52 am

Those wraps are disgusting! They taste like chemicals.


Darlene March 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm

There is very little left to eat. Especially when you consider how GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) are everywhere! Since GMO crops include corn, soy, beet sugar, and other, if you want to avoid these potentially hazardous “mutant” foods, you also have the check labels for corn sweeteners, corn oils, corn starch, etc……. High fructose corn sweeteners are in everything!!! No wonder so many kids are ADD. This explains peanut allergies! When I was a kid, everyone ate PB&J. Now they are banned from schools!!!!!


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