Most people have heard of partially hydrogenated oil, and they know they should stay away from it, but many of us don’t actually know what it is or why we should avoid it.
What is partially hydrogenated oil?
Partially hydrogenated oil is oil that began as healthy polyunsaturated fat, and has been turned into a solid through a process called hydrogenation. Palm, kernel, soy bean, corn and coconut oil are all popular oils to hydrogenate. Partially hydrogenated oils appear as trans fat on the nutritional facts.
Why is this bad?
- Partially hydrogenated oils will raise your LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) and lower your HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol), this effectively doubles your risk of heart disease
- Partially hydrogenated oils also increases Lipoprotein(a) levels, which is another heart disease marker
- They can increase blood clotting and inflammation, which will increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke
What can I do?
There is no consensus as to safe levels of trans fat in your diet. Health Canada recommends you choose healthier foods that contain little or no trans fats (partially hydrogenated oil). The American Heart Association suggests limiting your intake of trans fats to less than 1 percent of your total calories. At Bare Foods none of the products we sell contain partially hydrogenated oil, and we recommend eliminating foods that do from your diet. There is no nutritional benefit to trans fats, and the costs to your health are substantial.
Unfortunately to eliminate trans fat from your diet it is not as easy as looking for products that list 0 trans fats in their nutritional facts. If there is less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving the company can list trans fat as 0. If a serving is 1 cookie, and you eat 3 the unaccounted trans fat can quickly add up. This means you need to look at the ingredients for anything with partially hydrogenated in the name.
What is the difference between fully hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated?
Fully hydrogenated fats are solid at room temperature and do not contain trans fats. Fully hydrogenated fats are safer to consume than their partially hydrogenated relative, but they are generally high in saturated fat so it would be a stretch to call them healthy. Fully hydrogenated fats are not nearly as common as their partially hydrogenated counterpart because their solid state can make them difficult to use in cooking and baking.
The Bottom Line
Partially hydrogenated oil provide no nutritional benefit and can greatly increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. If a product you eat contains partially hydrogenated oil you should seek out an alternative.