Hydrogenated Oils: Information You’ll Want to Read!

 

Healthy Home

Welcome to Healthy Home, an enlightening weekly series on Mom Going Green.  Healthy Home focuses on natural health topics for the whole family.  The goal of this series is to provide moms (and dads too), with information on how to achieve optimal health for the entire household naturally.   The series will include the latest in natural health news, wholesome health tips, yummy recipes, and natural health remedies that have worked for healthy homes in years past.

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Are the chemically altered oils in the foods you eat Killing you?

Watch out for these foods

Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils are found in countless processed foods on grocery store shelves.  So what are hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils?  They are liquid vegetable oils which have been turned into solid fat.  This is done by a process called hydrogenation where the structure of the oil has been chemically changed by adding hydrogen atoms.  During this hydrogenation process, some of the fat molecules change shape to create a completely unnatural type of fat known as trans fat.  One example is margarine.  Trans fats are appealing to food producers because they increase the shelf life of the product.  They are commonly found in baked goods, pastries, packaged crackers and cookies, and other processed foods marketed toward children.  There are 2 types of hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated and fully hydrogenated.  Partially hydrogenated oils are by far the worst.  They contain significant amounts of trans fat.  Fully hydrogenated oils have no trans fats and contain saturated fats only.  However, during the process of hydrogenation, there are likely to be some fat molecules that slip through the cracks and are not fully hydrogenated.  These fats remain partially hydrogenated and therefore, are likely to contain some small level of trans fat.     

Health Ramifications of Trans Fats

Health ramifications

Health ramifications of trans fats are evident and not good.  Trans fats increase LDL, the bad type of cholesterol, and decrease HDL, the good type of cholesterol.   According to a 2009 study by Harvard School of Public Health, “if you add just 2% more calories from trans fat to your diet there is a 23% increased risk for heart disease.”  Trans fat also increases inflammation in the body.  Chronic inflammation is linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis.   It is widely agreed that trans fats are far worse for our health than saturated fats.  There are no known health benefits of trans fats.  So read your labels and be an educated shopper, and your family will reap the benefits.

Misleading FDA Labeling:

Is Zero Really Zero?  No!   According to the FDA a product can be labeled zero Trans fats if it has less than .5 grams.  If you have one serving of “zero” trans fats for each meal a day, after a week you could be taking in 10.5g Trans fats, that is 546g a year, when you think you are getting zero!  As a health conscious consumer I find this extremely frustrating and deceiving!  It’s loopholes like this that make it difficult for consumers to put their trust in the FDA, that they really do have the consumer’s best interest in mind.

Read your Labeles

Therefore when reading labels it is best to look at the ingredient list.  If it contains hydrogenated oil but states zero trans fats, you can guarantee trans fats are in the product.  Additionally you need to pay attention to the wording.  Often times it will say hydrogenated oil in the label and won’t specify if it is partially or fully hydrogenated.   “Hydrogenated oil” and “Partially Hydrogenated oil” are sometimes used interchangeably.  Therefore if it doesn’t say “Fully Hydrogenated Oil” then you have to assume that there are trans fats in the product.

Knowledge is power!  You may be overwhelmed when first digging through your cubbards or walking through the grocery isles at how many products have hydrogenated oils on the label.  Don’t be discouraged.  There are many healthy foods out there to choose from, it just takes a little more time and effort to find them.  The peace of mind I get from knowing that my family is eating wholesome foods without dangerous additives and ingredients such as hydrogenated oils makes the extra for reading labels well worth it!  I hope this gives you the knowledge and power to feel confidant in the foods you give your family.

Have you come across any foods you were surprised contained hydrogenated oil?  I’d love to hear from you.

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