Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
May 3, 2006 11:53 PM

Do you eat hydrogenated fat?

  • r

I started avoiding this stuff years ago because it's tasteless and leaves an icky waxy feeling in my mouth.

Now that we know it's 17 times worse for you than lard or butter ... why does anyone still eat the stuff? I don't get it.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. j
    JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

    It's on the way out the door, thank goodness. It's extremely popular in large food service operations because it is much more shelf stable than liquid oil. A bonus is that it is much easier to plunk a huge brick of hydrogenated fat into a freshly cleaned deep fryer than it is to pour in gallons of oil.


    1. People eat it because it's present in oh-so-many processed foods. I have now gotten to reading labels more carefully, and I try to avoid it too, where possible, but I've found that it's in a lot of things where I wouldn't expect it (can't thing of a single example now, of course). I just continue reading labels...

      2 Replies
      1. re: LisaM

        Until recently, the only way not to eat it was, basically, to never eat packaged food containing fat except meat things (and not always there.) It was certainly true of any form of baked goods including the vast majority of bakery products at any price point. (A couple of bakeries stuck to pure butter, and had to charge accordingly, but they are not the norm.) Imports don't get you off the hook, European stuff had as much as anything made in the US and in fact, from the labels I see, are a little slower in shifting over - guess they're labelling requirements are a little more recent and they haven't quite caught up.

        Unless he does all his own cooking and never eats snack/junk food, I suspect Robert was eating a lot more of it than he thinks, at least until the past year or so when companies started changing formulations in anticipation of the new labelling requirement.

        1. re: MikeG
          Robert Lauriston

          I don't eat much packaged food or any corporate junk food, the bakeries I frequent here in the People's Republic of Berkeley use only natural ingredients, and I always ask about the fry mix.

          Not that I'm a big health-food type. Throw some beef tallow in that fry mix, willya? And could I have some aioli on the side?

      2. Not that I use it that much, but easily because vegetable shortening still has very desirable properties for certain purposes. For example, an all-lard or all-butter pie crust is going to be quite different from a pie crust cut with some shortening. You cannot deep-fry in butter, and frying in shortening results in a different (and more desirable) texture in certain deep-fried foods.

        It is *very* difficult for most people to find non-hydrogenated lard. And lard (which I love) does have a distinct flavor that is not desirable in certain uses.

        Butter (which I dearly love) also has its limitations.

        Finally, not everyone is obsessed with finding evil in foods. Eating in moderation is a healthier perspective on things than obsesssing about evil ingredients. And the cyclical nature of evil food scares reinforces this, if anything.


        Let's use an example of Public Food Enemy Number One: Fast Food French Fries.

        Well, McDonalds used to partly prep their fries in tallow (the beef equivalent to lard). Then came the cholesterol scare, and they switched to hydrogenated vegetable oil. No cholesterol, but it did have transfats. And, because frying in shortening involves different temperatures and absorption rates than frying in tallow, the result was the the caloric load of the lower-cholesterol fries per uniform serving size was 1/3 HIGHER than the classic fried partly fried in tallow.

        Just like the low-fat craze exposed folks to eating lots of simple carbs whose digestion was not slowed down by fats: that begat the low-carb craze.

        It's just a cycle that most hounds prefer not to ride on.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Karl S

          But there's now shortening without hydrogenated fat, and even Crisco makes a version. Just FYI.

          1. re: Karl S
            Robert Lauriston

            I'm not against hydrogenated fat because it's evil, except in the sense that food that doesn't taste good is evil. On which basis that nasty-tasting rapeseed ("canola") oil is also condemned to the firey pit.

            I find that coconut oil works great for flaky pastry, and it actually tastes like food. Though to me an all-lard crust is superior in every way. Plus I have the fun of telling vegetarians they can't eat it.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Amen to the condemnation of nasty-tasting canola oil. I've smelled used motor oil that was more appetizing than canola.

          2. How do you know you aren't eating it? Do you know for absolute sure that whenever you eat out that no trans fats cross your lips?

            In a perfect world I would like to say I avoid this bad fat but unfortunately, I don't.

            5 Replies
            1. re: BlueHerons
              Robert Lauriston

              Trans fats cross my lips whenever I get my greasy paws on a nice piece of beef.

              I generally don't eat any unnatural ingredients, but that's probably easier here in Berkeley than in most parts of the USA.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                Morton the Mousse

                Most nutritionists and activists are concerned with trans fats from hydrogenated oils and not the small amounts of naturally occuring trans fats found in meat, dairy and some produce.

                I eat limited quantities of naturally occuring trans fats but I don't eat hydrogenated fat.


                1. re: Morton the Mousse
                  Robert Lauriston

                  Mmmm ... some activists. That's a relatively hip group. Others, for example the CSPI, are against all sorts of natural foods as well.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  um, Beef doesn't have trans fat. what do you mean?

                  1. re: jjb75

                    Small amounts of trans fat occur naturally in beef and dairy products.

              2. m
                Miss Tenacity

                I eat very few processed or fast foods, thankfully, so I don't even have the option to consume trans fat most of the time.

                HOWEVER, I have an on-again/off-again addiction to my own personal "crack": General Foods International Coffees. Pure non-dairy creamer (which is at least 50% trans fat) combined with sugar and flavoring. Its often imitated but no store brand is like the real thing.