Hydrogenated oils are made by cooking vegetable oils at high temperatures, adding hydrogen and a catalyst metal like nickel. This process enables the oil to cool as a solid. Unlike saturated animal fats, like butter or lard, that already have hydrogen molecules, hydrogenated fats are artificially saturated. Your body does not recognize this process and has a difficult time digesting the molecules causing them to remain in your body longer. This can cause chronic inflammation, heart disease, digestive problems and weight gain to name a few.
Although these heart clogging oils are in a wide variety of processed foods, it is possible to avoid them by cutting certain foods out of your diet:
Margarine is all hydrogenated oil. Replace this with soy or vegan butter or non-hydrogenated margarine from brands like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Promise, Blue Bonnet Soft Spread or Smart Balance Light.
2. Vegetable Shortening
Many cooking/baking recipes call for vegetable shortening which is another food that is chock full of hydrogenated oils. Try to use liquid vegetable oils instead. These types of oils do not have to be processed, therefore they are not an artificially saturated solid. Another alternative to vegetable shortening is leaf lard, which is the creamy white fat that surrounds a hog’s kidneys. Although it is considered healthier than processed lard it may be difficult to find and prepare.
3. Non-Dairy Whipped Dessert Toppings and Cake Frosting
These foods are very high in trans-fats but can be substituted by using a vegan recipe. Vegan products contain no animal products, including dairy, and are never hydrogenated. The company Soyatoo makes an excellent vegan whipped cream that can be found in most health food stores such as Whole Foods.
4. White Bread
White bread is highly processed and contains varying amounts of hydrogenated oil. Try to use sprouted breads often found in the freezer section of health food stores or go for wheat or oat breads that do not have processed white flour, fructose, corn syrup or hydrogenated or partially hydrogented oils.
5. Non-Dairy Coffee Creamers
This is another culprit that can also be replaced by vegan coffee creamers, such as MimicCreme by the company of the same name. Coconut Milk Powder by EnerHealth is another good option.
Although processed tortillas contain hydrogenated oil, if you must partake, a slightly more nutritious option is to choose corn tortillas over flour.
7. Fast Food
Traditional fast food options such as hot dogs and hamburgers are not a good idea. Hamburger and hot dog buns are loaded with hydrogenated oil as are french fries. Stay away from fast food.
As delicious and indulgent as they are, unfortunately, donuts are one of the highest trans-fat foods available–even the plain cake varieties.
9. Peanut Butter
Surprisingly, this staple of most households holds high amounts of hydrogenated oils. Look for non-major brand labels that have simple ingredients like peanuts and salt. Also, some stores offer a grind-your-own option which is the best tasting peanut butter around.
10. Ice Cream
Most ice cream choices contain trans-fats. However, Haagen Daz, one of the most popular brands in the country, is totally trans-fat free.