“Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” is fancy chemical speak for “trans fat,” meaning unsaturated fat. The hydrogenation process creates fats that have a higher melting point, which is attractive to food manufacturers because it extends the shelf-life of products. Generally trans fats are not healthy. They promote heart disease by increasing levels of low-density lipoprotiens–the “bad” cholesterol your doctor probably wants you to reduce–and lower levels of high-density lipoprotiens, or “good” cholesterol. Trans fats occur naturally in animal products like milk and meat, but it’s the use of modern food products (like the shortening used for deep frying in restaurants) that introduces most of these substances into our diets…thus expanding our waistlines in most cases.
Unlike butter, hydrogenated oils contain high levels of trans fats. These fats are not essential, and they do not promote good health. The consumption of trans fats increases the risk of coronary heart disease by raising levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.It is recommended that consumption of trans fat be minimal. Trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are more harmful than naturally occurring oils and companies use them to prolong shelf life of various food items.
Food and nutrition board, institute of medicine of the national academies (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). National Academies Press.
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