What are Hydrogenated Oils?

Hydrogenated oils – the very source of all the bad fat!

hydrogenated oils

Hydrogenated oils are formed through a process of hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is where a company places hydrogen inside an organic liquid in order to make them solid. Often times, this works with vegetable oils. Vegetable oils such as peanut oil are often subjected to hydrogenation. When the peanut oil is subjected to hydrogenation, the peanut oil becomes a hydrogenated oil which then turns into what we know as peanut butter.

But it doesn’t just end there. There are different reasons and things to know about Hydrogenated oils. Some hydrogenated oils are healthy, others are not. Or sometimes, it’s just best to avoid them altogether. Here’s some useful trivia to learn about the hydrogenated oils.

There are two kinds of hydrogenated oils: partial and full.

When it comes to hydrogenated oils, there are two kinds: partial and full. Partially hydrogenated oils often times appear as solid. And when they appear solid, they also form another kind of fat. This kind of fat is also known as trans fat. Now this term might appear more familiar to you. Why? Because this is the fat that people need to avoid. Trans fat are harder to break down due to the extra hydrogen bond.

On a molecular level, having an extra hydrogen can alter their chemical structure. By adding hydrogen, some oils break their extra double bond with another hydrogen to balance themselves. Because of this, they become a single chain and increase their melting point. With their melting point increased, they become also harder to break down.

Hydrogenated oils create trans fat.

Remember, there are two kinds of fat: LDL (Low Density Lipids) and HDL (High Density Lipids). Hydrogenated oils only provide the LDL which is the bad kind of fat. The bad kind of fat is what prevents your body from absorbing healthy fat. Another is that low density lipids from the trans fat block your body’s ability to produce chemicals that soothe inflammation. This is why people suffer from hypertension and high blood pressure when they take too much of hydrogenated oils.

Not only does the trans fat build up as plaque but the blockage of the chemical that soothes inflammation causes a biochemical reaction. As the plaque builds up, the body begins to work harder in order to get more blood through the veins. And when the body begins to work hard, damage starts to occur. As the damage occurs and there’s heat which causes the body to inflame, the trans fat blocks the body’s ability to create chemicals that soothe the inflammation. This is why people also die of heart attacks which can be caused by a variety of things with hydrogenated oils pouring trans fat into your body as the main culprit.

Hydrogenated oils are not naturally made. They’re man-made!

Hydrogenated oils don’t just happen and although there are trans fat that do occur naturally, it’s not as bad as the intervention done on hydrogenated oils. This occured because there was a purposeful intervention by man. In 1911, a scientist discovered that cottonseed oil (another hydrogenated oil) could be turned solid through hydrogenation. Originally, this cottonseed oil was to be soap. However, aesthetically, it looked awful and looked more like lard. Because of this, it was decided that this new form of cottonseed oil would be sold as crystallized cottonseed oil. Also known as, crisco.

Soon, this went on the rise. Back in the day when wars were still happening, people started losing supplies on butter. And in Western culture, butter was a must in everything. In baking bread, in enhancing the flavor of bread, and sometimes even in cooking. However, wars do drain resources and people were forced to find an alternative. This is where hydrogenated oils became the star. Because it virtually had no taste but had the same effect as butter, they decided to continuously use it to produce all the favorites.

So, it’s really bad?

If there’s one kind of fat you want to avoid, it’s this kind. Make sure you steer clear from eating too much of this as it can not only increase weight but it’s also difficult to burn. People think that eating more of this would help them, especially if on a ketogenic diet. But unfortunately, it’s one of the things that got people big in the first place. Because it’s difficult to burn, it ends up stored as fat which can cause heart problems when a person’s metabolism slows down.


Ohlrogge, J. B., Emken, E. A., & Gulley, R. M. (1981). Human tissue lipids: occurrence of fatty acid isomers from dietary hydrogenated oils. Journal of Lipid Research, 22(6), 955-960.

Thomas, L. H., Jones, P. R., Winter, J. A., & Smith, H. (1981). Hydrogenated oils and fats: the presence of chemically-modified fatty acids in human adipose tissue. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 34(5), 877-886.

de Oliveira, M. A., Solis, V. E., Gioielli, L. A., Polakiewicz, B., & Tavares, M. F. (2003). Method development for the analysis of trans‐fatty acids in hydrogenated oils by capillary electrophoresis. Electrophoresis, 24(10), 1641-1647.

Mounts, T. L., Warner, K. A., List, G. R., Fredrich, J. P., & Koritala, S. (1978). Flavor and oxidative stability of hydrogenated and unhydrogenated soybean oils: effects of antioxidants. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 55(3), 345-349.

McKelvey, W., Greenland, S., Chen, M. J., Longnecker, M. P., Frankl, H. D., Lee, E. R., & Haile, R. W. (1999). A case-control study of colorectal adenomatous polyps and consumption of foods containing partially hydrogenated oils. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers, 8(6), 519-524.

McKelvey, W., Greenland, S., Chen, M. J., Longnecker, M. P., Frankl, H. D., Lee, E. R., & Haile, R. W. (1999). A case-control study of colorectal adenomatous polyps and consumption of foods containing partially hydrogenated oils. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers, 8(6), 519-524.

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