Partially hydrogenated oils have been in foods for decades but in the 1990’s hydrogenated oils started to come under fire after scientists realized it’s negative health effects. Hydrogenated Oils are made by adding hydrogen to the oil causing it to turn into a semi-solid fat. In turn, it has a longer shelf life and a consistency like butter but without the price tag. When the oil is chemically altered it changes the fats from unsaturated fats to a new fatty acid know as trans fat.
Trans fats are responsible for raising the LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowering the HDL (good cholesterol), and are linked to diabetes, coronary disease, obesity, and others. Americans on average are consuming more than 5.8 grams a day. That is almost 3 times the recommended 2 grams. It is no surprise Lipitor, a drug to lower cholesterol, has been one of the best selling pharmaceutical drugs for more than seven years.
In January 2006, companies were required to start labeling Trans Fats on the nutrition labels. But do not be fooled by the labels. Most of the time you will see 0g of Trans Fat when “Partially Hydrogenated Oil” is listed as an ingredient. They are allowed to do this when it contains less than .5 grams. I went to my local supermarket and was shocked at all the packaged items with 0g next to trans fat and partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients. Be sure to take the time and look for the words, “Partially Hydrogenated Oil”, in the ingredient list.
Partially hydrogenated oils are most likely to show up in cake mixes, crackers, chips, cereals, frozen entrees, peanut butter, whipped toppings, coffee creamer, cocoa mix, and microwave popcorn. See the trend? Mostly convenience foods you would likely grab in the supermarket isles. But the supermarket isles are not the only place; many fast foods are fried in oils that contain partially hydrogenated oils. Do you have Ritz Crackers, Doritos, Saltines, Rice a Roni, or coffee creamer in your home? And thats just to name a few! Time to give these offenders the boot and get trans fats out of your home.
There is a free app available called Fooducate. You can scan the UPC code on boxes and it’ll alert you if there are partially hydrogenated oils, and other additives. It will grade the food and then give you some better alternatives. This is a great tool to use in the supermarket to help make healthier choices.