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What is Hydrogenation?

Hydrogenation is the process of heating an oil and passing hydrogen bubbles through it. The fatty acids in the oil then acquire some of the hydrogen, which makes it more dense. If you fully hydrogenate, you create a solid (a fat) out of the oil. But if you stop part way, you a semi-solid partially hydrogenated oil that has a consistency like butter, only it’s a lot cheaper.

Because of that consistency, and because it is cheap, it is a big favorite as a butter-substitute among “food” producers. It gives their products a richer flavor and texture, but doesn’t cost near as much as it would to add butter.

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What’s Wrong with Hydrogenation?

Unlike butter or virgin coconut oil, hydrogenated oils contain high levels of trans fats. A trans fat is an otherwise normal fatty acid that has been “transmogrified”, by high-heat processing of a free oil. The fatty acids can be double-linked, cross-linked, bond-shifted, twisted, or messed up in a variety of other ways.

The problem with trans fats is that while the “business end” (the chemically active part) is messed up, the “anchor end” (the part that is attached to the cell wall) is unchanged. So they take up their position in the cell wall, like a guard on the fortress wall. But like a bad guard, they don’t do their job! They let foreign invaders pass unchallenged, and they stop supplies at the gates instead of letting them in.

In short, trans fats are poisons, just like arsenic or cyanide. They interfere with the metabolic processes of life by taking the place of a natural substance that performs a critical function. And that is the definition of a poison. Your body has no defense against them, because they never even existed in our two billion years of evolution — so we’ve never had the need or the opportunity to evolve a defense against them.

But the worst part is that in the last stages of oil processing (or “refining”), the oil is literally steam distilled to remove its odor. So it doesn’t smell. But a hydrogenated oil is much worse than rancid butter. So it it did smell, it would smell worse than the most rancid butter you’ve ever seen. (And that goes for all refined oils, not just the hydrogenated ones. It’s just that hydrogenated oils are everywhere in the American diet.) So the next time you see “partially hydrogenated oil” on a label, think “rancid butter”.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils Make You Fat!

Partially hydrogenated oils will not only kill you in the long term by producing diseases like multiple sclerosis and allergies that lead to arthritis, but in the meantime they will make you fat!

You Eat More

It’s not like you have any choice in the matter. Remember that the essential fatty acids are vital to every metabolic function in your body. You will get the quantity of essential fatty acids that you need to sustain life, no matter what. You will not stop being hungry until you do.

If you are consuming lots of saturated fats, you really have no choice but to become fat, because saturated fats contain only small quantities of the polyunsaturated fats that contain the essential fatty acids you need. The key to being thin, then, is to consume foods containing large amounts of polyunsaturated oils. (Those foods include fish, olives, nuts, and egg yolks.) Over the long term, those foods remove your sense of hunger.

Note:
The difference between a “fat” and an “oil” is temperature. A “fat” is a lipid that is solid at room temperature. An “oil” is one that is liquid at room temperature. Both are lipids (or “oil/fat”). Change the temperature, and you can convert an oil into a fat, or vice versa.

Partially hydrogenated oils make you gain weight the same way that saturated fats do — by making you consume even more fat to get the the essential fatty acids you need. But partially hydrogenated fats are even worse. Not only do they produce disease over the long term, but they interfere with the body’s ability to ingest and utilize the good fats!

Picture it like this. The trans fats are now the guards along the watchtower. The essential fatty acids (the support troops) are waiting outside to get into the fort (the cell), so they can be distributed along the watchtower (the cell wall). But the guards won’t let them in! So they have to find someplace to stay in town. Over time, more and more troops are finding lodging in town. So new houses (fat cells) have to built to keep them in. The town grows more and more swelled with troops (fat), and it gets bigger and bigger (fatter). It’s not a pretty picture at all, when you realize that the town is your belly, buns, face, and neck.

Your Metabolism Slows

Worse, most partially hydrogenated oil is partially hydrogenated soybean oil. That’s a problem, because soybean oil depresses the thyroid–which lowers your energy levels, makes you feel less like exercising, and generally makes you fatter!

Of course, soybeans have been used for centuries in the Orient–but mostly as the basis for soy sauce and tofu. Asians didn’t have soy milk, soy burgers, soy this and soy that. Most of all, they never used concentrated essence of soybean, in the form of soybean oil. And they didn’t hydrogenate it, and they didn’t use it in everything.

Walking down supermarket aisles in America, you find product after product with partially hydrogenated oil–often in products you would never expect. But why not? After all, it’s cheaper than butter. And it’s not illegal. Yet. When you eat out, restaurant breads and fried foods are loaded with stuff.

As a result, Americans are consuming soybean oil–partially hydrogenated soybean oil–in virtually everything they eat. It’s no wonder that America is experiencing epidemic levels of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

Avoiding Hydrogenation

When you start reading food labels, it is astonishing how many products you will find that contain partially hydrogenated oils. In the chips aisle, there are maybe two brands that don’t: Lay’s Classic Potato Chips (not their other brands), and Laura Scudders chips. Most every other package on the shelf does.

Then there are the cookies and crackers. Most every single one does. About the only cookie that doesn’t is Paul Neuman’s fig newtons. Among peanut butters, the all-natural brands (Adams and Laura Scudders) don’t. All the rest seem to.

Even some items on the “health food” shelf, like Tigers Milk bars, contain partially hydrogenated oils. Can you imagine that?? A product marketed as a “health food” that contains partially hydrogenated oils? If they want to market it as a candy bar, fine. Caveat emptor. But to market it as a health food calls for a class action lawsuit on the basis of false advertising.

The more labels you read, the more astonished you will be at the variety and number of places that this insidious little killer shows up. Do read the labels. Do recoil in disgust, and do throw the product back on the shelf — or throw it on the floor, where it belongs.

Beware of sheep in wolves clothing.  The Manufacturers are listened and have stopped using these oils but be careful, for they are now using mono- and di-glycerides–which are also hydrogenated oil products.

What You Can Do

For starters, read food labels and avoid anything that contains the words “hydrogenated”. That means partially hydrogenated oils, hydrogenated oils, or anything of that kind (and mono-diglycerides, as well).

Note:
In 2006, a new FDA regulation took effect that requires manufacturers to list the amount of trans fats on their product labels. Much as I would like to tell you that you can simply look for “0% trans fats” on the label, it would be useless for you to do so. The FDA wanted to put the words, “Warning: Trans fats may be dangerous to your health” on the labels–the same warning that first appeared on cigarettes–but the industry wouldn’t let them. And the way the labeling law works, the product can contain a significant percentage of trans fat, and still claim “0%”. Simply put, the labeling law is nearly useless. For more information, see What’s Wrong with Trans Fat Labels?

When eating out, avoid deep-fried foods at all costs, and pretend you’re allergic to wheat. (You probably are! Something like 50% of the population is. See What’s Wrong with Wheat?) And when you avoid wheat you stay away from both partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup–another deadly ingredient in the American food supply that is rarely used in other countries–except where American corporations are involved.

If you follow those steps, you will do a good job of protecting yourself. But there is a simple thing you can do to help protect others, as well:

When you see a food that contains partially hydrogenated oils (especially if it claims to be healthy), put it back on the shelf upside down and backwards. (Sometimes it’s impossible to put things back upside down, so at least put them on the shelf backwards.)

Hope you found this article to be helpful.  Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

And remember: Eat Clean and Eat Organic whenever possible!

 Learn how to be healthier and more organic with this program:  http://bit.ly/FBRSad

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