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Apr 8, 2005 12:43 PM

trans fat and partially hydrogenated oil

  • j

I am a little confused. Are trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils the same? If so, why do some products claim to be "Trans Fat Free" yet have partially hydrogenated oils in their ingredient lists? Any help on this subject would be great!

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  1. j
    Joan Kureczka

    To my understanding they are the same thing. However, if the total amount is below a certain defined level (which I can't remember exactly right now), the food can qualify for the "trans-fat free" label. Not exactly truthful labeling.

    1. Any food with partially hydrogenated oil contains transfat and will raise your cholesterol. It's not good for you! It's just as bad as saturated fats.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Richie
        Amanda Demarest

        I've been buying a butter substitute put out by Fleischmann's (ConAgra Foods) that advertises "no trans fat" and "made with olive oil" because I thought it would be better for my family. However, I just noticed that the fourth ingredient listed is partially hydrogenated soybean oil. How can it claim to have no trans fat? I guess I'm confused because I thought the terms "trans fat" and "partial hydrogenated oil" were synonymous. This product tastes good, but now I'm wondering if using butter or olive oil would be preferable.

      2. Partial hydrogenation, despite the adjective, is like being pregnant: it's a yes or no thing. It does not tell you how hydrogentation. The no-trans-fat products have a relatively slight level of hydrogenation that produces such a negligible amount of trans fat that it is rounded down to 0% (all food nutritional data is approximate, btw, and averaged over large production quantities -- people don't realize this). And trans fat levels used for labeling are based on the total product composition, not only the fat portion.

        1. Hydrogenation is the process, trans-fats are the result. Rather than get into the specific legalities of labeling, why not simply avoid any and all of it? Use mono- and poly- unsaturated liquid vegetables oils for most things, and saturated butter for a few things, as nature provided, and as mankind used for millennia, long before he figured out how to process corn oil with extreme heat, nickel, emulsifiers, bleach, and artifical flavors and coloring, to produce something that would make increased rates of heart disease and subsidies to corn growers our norm!

          3 Replies
          1. re: applehome

            And don't forget healthful lard!

            1. re: Karl S.

              Lard: About 40% saturated, 48% monounsaturated and 12%polyunsaturated. Like duck and goose fat, lard is stable (won't go rancid quickly, like the mono's), and an excellent source of Vitamin D. The amount and balance of omega-3's and 6's varies according to the pig's diet. Lard has traditionally been used for frying because it has a fairly high smoking point, and low level of free fatty acids - where high levels of fatty acids (as in unsaturated veg oils) will ruin the flavor of whatever is being fried, even without smoking.

              (Info from Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking, and Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions.)

              I don't hear anybody saying eat gobs of saturated fats. But I do hear that eating zero isn't necessary, and oh by the way, you should eat zero trans-fats.

              1. re: applehome
                Eldon Kreider

                I have seen lard containers indicating a blend of lard and hydrogenated lard. You do need to check the ingredients even in lard.

          2. In light of the recent announcement by KFC to eliminate most trans fats from its products, why is this such a big deal to the fast food industry?
            Vegetable oils are not in short supply and are inexpensive. Higher smoke point oils (canola, soybean) are compatible with deep frying.
            I find it hard to believe that large corporations can't tune their recipes for a more healthful fat.
            Is this a frying fat 'life cycle' cost issue to them?